by Rachel McPherson

Every parent knows there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach to parenting. Each child has different strengths and struggles that have to be taken into account. The same is true for education, which is why the Goldwater Institute is such a strong supporter of school choice and why we designed Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs). To date, six states have adopted such programs: Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, and Tennessee.

In a video released by our friends at Utah’s Libertas Institute, Goldwater Vice President Christina Sandefur discussed how these accounts can help Utah families customize their child’s education. “The way it would work is that parents get a portion of the money that the state would have spent on their child’s education through traditional public schools and they can use that money to tailor their child’s education to their individual needs. They can purchase things like tutors or books or private education–whatever it is that their child needs for their specific plan for success.”

Every student is different, and the education system should give each student the chance to learn in environments conducive to their success. These programs allow families the flexibility to pursue alternative opportunities if the current educational environment is not the best fit for their student.

Arizona leads the way when it comes to school choice. Since the Empowerment Scholarship Account program was implementation in 2011, thousands of Arizona students and their families have been able to use education programs that best suit their unique needs. Currently, this program is open to special needs students, children in D or F-rated schools, military and foster care families, and siblings of existing participants. Next week, Arizonans will have the opportunity to vote to expand this successful program to all students. You can read more about the Goldwater Institute’s position on Proposition 305 and why Arizona voters should vote yes here. “Imagine that you’re the parent of a child with a learning disability or special needs or maybe your kid is even just being bullied. You can use these accounts to get your child the education that he or she needs so that they can thrive,” says Sandefur.

Rachel McPherson is a Ronald Reagan Fellow at the Goldwater Institute.