Good Summer News: Two Arizona Choice Programs on Verge of Expansion

There’s no time like summertime to focus on some good news, even if it comes from some place even hotter than home: Arizona. Thanks to Matt Ladner guest-posting on Jay Greene’s blog, I learned that the Grand Canyon State is a small step away from creating more opportunities for students and families after the legislature voted to expand two of its leading school choice programs.

The nation’s leading school choice advocacy organization offers up some key details:

The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today praised the Arizona Legislature for passing two educational choice bills that will greatly improve educational options for thousands of Arizona families. Senate Bill 1363 expands the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program to include kindergartners who were previously excluded from the program and expands the scholarship amount for qualifying children. House Bill 2617 improves the Corporate Tax Credit, allowing qualifying small businesses to donate to the tuition tax credit program. Both laws now await Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature.

It must be a pretty neat feeling to accomplish so much good with the stroke of a pen. When (not if) SB 1363 is officially adopted, it will be the second straight year Arizona has grown its first-of-a-kind ESA program. The 2013 improvements include putting more educational dollars in families’ control by tying the formula to charter school funding, and making kindergarteners eligible for the program (yay!).

The other bill, HB 2617, affects one of Arizona’s three existing scholarship tax credit programs by allowing small businesses (not just large corporations) to take a credit for making donations that allow poor and some middle-income kids a chance to attend a private school of their choice. If you want to learn more about Arizona’s Corporate STO Credit and how a similar program could work for Colorado, check out my Education Policy Center friend’s recent paper and the fabulous website Colorado Kids Win.

This is some good news you can take with yourself to the ballpark, on vacation, or wherever else the summer season might take you. Cheer up, and celebrate the progress of school choice!