One Week's Progress Gives Hope for Another Year of School Choice
Awhile back I asked the pertinent and hopeful question: Could 2015 turn out to be the Year of School Choice: Part II? Now that your split sides have had ample time to recover from yesterday’s laugh-out-loud April Fool’s posting, let’s look back on the updates from just the past week.
To do so, we really need go no further than the American Federation for Children website, just to rehash the developments of the past seven days:
- “ESA program passes Mississippi House & Senate”: Awaiting the governor’s signature on the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act, the Magnolia State is on the verge of becoming the third state with the Education Debit Card.
- “Arkansas legislature passes bill to create special needs educational choice program”: The state senate concurred with the house’s unanimous adoption of HB 1552, setting up Arkansas to become the 20th state with a private school choice program.
- “School choice passes [Tennessee] state senate in wide bipartisan vote”: At least to start, the power to choose private education is only extended to 5,000 kids in the bottom 5 percent of schools, but this legislation looks like it will add the Volunteer State to the ranks of those with school choice, as well.
- Both the Alabama Senate and the entire Arizona legislature have approved expansions of their respective scholarship tax credit programs. That means more students soon could be extended the opportunity to succeed through philanthropic investment.
- “Nevada State Assembly passes tax credit scholarship legislation”: AB 165 cleared one hurdle, but now its companion measure (SB 302) moves forward for consideration with a committee hearing tomorrow. Let’s see if the Silver State can beat Arkansas and Tennessee to the punch.
- “Ariz. legislature passes bill giving Native American students on Tribal Lands access to Empowerment Scholarship Accounts”: The Grand Canyon State appears ready to do it again, making its revolutionary ESA concept available to another group of needy students with Senate Bill 1332. All the legislation needs is a signature from pro-school choice Gov. Doug Ducey.
All the above good news updates have come rapidly during the span of one week. While Colorado doesn’t look to be among those opening more school choice doors in 2015, enough states appear to be on the verge of success that my hope of seeing this year as a spectacular sequel to 2011 seems close to fulfillment.
The upswing in educational freedom is certainly worth celebrating, though those on the ground know that legislative victory means the hard work has only begun. Effective and faithful implementation is the other half of school reform. But today, I’m just thankful to be able to smile at the progress made thus far and ready to cheer for more.