On May 11, 1993, Jack and Isabelle McVaugh and other prominent members of the Phoenix community held a press conference at Olympic boxer Michael Carbajal's gym, announcing the formation of Arizona School Choice Trust (ASCT). The privately funded scholarship program would give low-income students in Maricopa County the opportunity to attend private school. Within 10 days of announcing the scholarships, ASCT had 500 students on its waiting list.
ASCT awarded 54 scholarships in 1993-1994. Ten years later, ASCT is providing scholarships to 572 students for the 2003-2004 school year, thanks largely to the Arizona scholarship tax credit program enacted in 1997. Another 2,000 students are on the ASCT waiting list.
A survey of the parents of children receiving scholarships and those on the waiting list suggests that a significant number of Arizona families with incomes below $30,000 is benefiting from school choice policies. Survey results show that parents who are able to exercise school choice are generally more satisfied with their children's educations. More than 80 percent of parents choosing private schools had overall satisfaction ratings of A, whereas less than 20 percent of parents with children in public or charter schools expressed equal satisfaction. The median parental satisfaction grade for private schools was A, while charter schools and public schools scored median grades of B and C, respectively. The findings also suggest that many more low-income families wish to participate, and believe their children would be better off if they had the opportunity to choose different schools.