Education Freedom Movement is Here to Stay: ALEC in the Washington Times
Arizona and West Virginia responded to the strong demand among parents in their states for more education freedom by creating the two most expansive ESA programs in the country.
Andrew Handel, ALEC’s Education and Workforce Development Task Force Director, authored a new op-ed in The Washington Times on the recent victories for families in Arizona and West Virginia following challenges to their education savings account programs.
The idea is to recognize that not every school or learning environment is going to be the best fit for every student, so public education dollars should be flexible enough to allow a student to learn in whatever manner is best for them. This is not to say that public schools and teachers are “bad” or “not doing their jobs.” If a family finds that their public school is the best place for their children to learn, as many do, then they are free to keep using it and that student’s public funding is unchanged
Arizona and West Virginia responded to the strong demand among parents in their states for more education freedom by creating the two most expansive ESA programs in the country. They represent the best examples of how states can and are rethinking American education — shifting away from the misguided “one size fits all” approach that we have historically taken to instead focus on freedom and choice, thus ensuring that every student in America is put in the best position to succeed whether that be a private school, home school, or virtual school. Underlying demand among families for more freedom and choice in their children’s education. With West Virginia and Arizona leading the way, 2023 promises to be another major year for education freedom as even more states look to put parents and families in charge.
In West Virginia, the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals took up a case aimed at halting the Hope Scholarship Program, a significant ESA program that allows 93% of students to participate statewide. Opponents claimed that the program violated the state constitution’s guarantee of a “thorough and efficient system of free schools” and had won a lower court injunction blocking the program. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals overruled the lower court, concluding that the Hope Scholarship Program is constitutional and can take effect immediately.
In Arizona, opponents launched a referendum petition drive aimed at temporarily halting the Empowerment Scholarship Program’s expansion to all Arizona students until voters could have a say in 2024. These efforts were led by a group called Save Our Schools Arizona (SOS), which forced a referendum and defeated a previous expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Program a few years ago. This time around, SOS failed to gather the required number of signatures to force a referendum — a sign of the Empowerment Scholarship Program’s support among Arizona voters.