August 15, 2019
By Matt Beienburg
The men and women of America’s armed services have pledged — and often sacrificed — their lives to protect our freedoms. Yet just a single state, Arizona, has decided these heroes deserve their own freedom when it comes to their children’s education.
Also known as “Empowerment Scholarship Accounts,” Arizona’s education savings account (ESA) program takes a portion of what the state would spend covering the cost of a student’s education in a K-12 public school and instead deposits that money into a personalized account. Children with special needs or in foster care, students in failing schools, and those in military families are among those able to use them. Families can use the funds for tutoring, educational therapies, private school tuition, curriculum materials and other teaching tools.
More than 800 children from military families found freedom and flexibility through this program in fiscal 2019, with each grade school student receiving an average of $6,100 toward their educational needs (while generating substantial taxpayer savings compared to the roughly $10,100 cost that taxpayers normally shoulder for every Arizona public school pupil).
Matt Beienburg is the director of education policy at the Goldwater Institute. He is the author of the new Goldwater Institute report The Public School Benefits of Education Savings Accounts: The Impact of ESAs in Arizona.