Before the Arizona legislature ended their session last night, Sen. Barbara McGuire voted to give hope to 16,000 Arizona children. Sen. McGuire helped pass SB 1363, which increases the number of children eligible for education savings accounts and the amount of money the Arizona Department of Education deposits in each account. Under the bill, incoming kindergarten students assigned to a failing school will not have to attend a D or F-rated school for one year before applying for a savings account. These children will have the chance at a great education immediately and not have to attend a failing school first.
In fact, the bill provides that all incoming kindergarten students who meet education savings accounts’ eligibility provisions can apply for an account without attending a public school first. Nearly 1 in 5 Arizona public school children are already eligible for an account, including children with special needs, children attending a failing school, children in military families, and children adopted from the state foster care system.
The Arizona Department of Education deposits 90 percent of an eligible child’s portion of the school funding formula in each education savings account. Parents can use the accounts to buy online classes, hire a personal tutor, pay for educational therapy, buy textbooks and homeschool materials, or send their child to a private school. Parents can rollover funds from year to year and even save for their child’s college tuition with an account.
The bill also increases the base amount of education savings account awards to approximately $6,000, which is an increase of $3,000 over previous savings account deposits (children with special needs who use the accounts are funded using a different formula and receive a higher funding amount).
Sen. McGuire’s courageous vote proves that giving all children the chance at a bright future is a bipartisan issue. Helping children succeed should be a priority for everyone—no matter your political party.