The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman's Vision of School Choice for All Children

School Choice in Arizona

Summary

Arizona has four private school choice programs (educational savings accounts, tax-credit scholarships). The state does have a charter school law, and it also enables public virtual schooling. Open enrollment exists, both for intradistrict and interdistrict public school choice.

Laws and Regulations Governing Private Schools

Constitutionality

Both tax credit programs and vouchers are school choice options for Arizona. The Arizona Constitution contains Blaine Amendment language in two separate provisions, but Arizona state courts have interpreted neither expansively. In Kotterman, the Arizona Supreme Court definitively upheld the constitutionality of tuition tax credits.

Given its strong adherence to federal precedent on Establishment Clause issues, the court is also likely to uphold a religiously neutral voucher program. It has already held that the state can contract with a religious organization for public services without improperly aiding the organization’s religious mission. In addition, the Arizona Supreme Court has viewed the “uniformity” language of its education article (Article XI, Section 1) as establishing a floor for adequacy below which districts may not go, but permitting programs that go further.

–Quote from the Institute for Justice (April 2007)

School Choice Programs

"Switcher" Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Enacted 2012 • Launched 2012

Arizona’s “switcher” tax-credit scholarship program supplements its original individual tax-credit scholarship program. The switcher program provides a credit on individual income taxes for donations to School Tuition Organizations (STOs), nonprofits... Read More

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

Enacted 2011 • Launched 2011

Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) program allows parents to withdraw their children from public, district, or charter schools and receive a portion of their public funding deposited into an account with defined, but multiple, uses,... Read More

Lexie’s Law Corporate Tax Credits

Enacted 2009 • Launched 2009

Arizona allows corporations to receive tax credits for donating to School Tuition Organizations (STOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships to children with special needs and students who are currently, or have been at any time, part of... Read More

Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Enacted 2006 • Launched 2006

Arizona provides a credit on corporate income taxes for C-Corporations for donations to School Tuition Organizations (STOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. STOs receiving donations for this program must award scholarships to... Read More

Original Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Enacted 1997 • Launched 1997

Arizona provides a credit on individual income taxes for donations to School Tuition Organizations (STOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. In the 2014 tax year, individual taxpayers contributing to STOs may claim a... Read More

Research

Public Rules on Private Schools: Measuring the Regulatory Impact of State Statutes and School Choice Programs

5/30/2014

Is regulatory creep a fate that awaits all school choice programs? With the number of those programs doubling over the past five years, the need for context and understanding is critical.   This report provides a framework for understanding the... Read More

Schooling Satisfaction: Arizona Parents' Opinions on Using Education Savings Accounts

10/10/2013

Thousands of families across the country, in states like Florida, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin, are using school vouchers to access private schools for their children. Thousands more in other states, like Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Georgia, are choosing... Read More

The Education Debit Card: What Arizona Parents Purchase with Education Savings Accounts

8/28/2013

As parental choice in education takes root in more communities throughout the U.S., education savings accounts (ESAs) have taken on greater importance as the funding mechanism for customized learning. This is especially true in Arizona. The state’s... Read More

The Way of the Future: Education Savings Accounts for Every American Family

9/27/2012

Education savings accounts are the way of the future. Under such accounts—managed by parents with state supervision to ensure accountability—parents can use their children’s education funding to choose among public and private schools,... Read More

The Greenfield School Revolution and School Choice

6/5/2012

The recent explosion of educational innovation has focused primarily on creating wholly new models of what a school can be. From KIPP to Carpe Diem, education is entering a revolutionary period driven by the reinvention of the entire school rather than... Read More

A Guide to Understanding State Funding of Arizona Public School Students

1/19/2004

This study analyzes and explains Arizona’s school funding system. It finds that Arizona spends between $8,500 and $9,000 on each student in public schools, but students using private-school scholarships funded through the tax code receive only... Read More

 

News

4/15/2014 Breaking the ice for a growing school choice plan to bloom
4/15/2014 Two-Minute Talk with Jonathan Butcher
2/6/2014 Tulsa World | Education service accounts put parents in charge
10/15/2013 National Review | The Education Debit Card
10/10/2013 Arizona parents more satisfied with ESA than public school
10/1/2013 Education Week | Ariz. Scholarship Program Ruled Constitutional
9/20/2013 Savannah Morning News | Commentary: A new way to fund education
8/28/2013 Study reveals how Arizona parents use education savings accounts
8/15/2013 Sharing your story in “The ABCs” can be as easy as one, two, three
10/15/2012 Education News | Are Arizona’s Ed Savings Accounts a Model for Voucher Programs?
10/12/2012 Forbes.com | Can Education Savings Accounts Level The Playing Field For All American Students?
10/11/2012 Heartlander | New Report Labels Education Accounts ‘Way of the Future’
9/11/2012 Last Resistance | Survey and Parents Say Public Schools Failing
8/27/2012 President's Comments: School Choice Still Rising with More States Coming on Board
5/15/2012 Arizona Governor Signs Groundbreaking School Choice Plan
4/6/2012 AP | School Vouchers Spark Growing Court Fights in US
11/18/2011 America | Where Credit Is Due
9/29/2011 Lawsuit Would Restrict Arizona Families' Educational Options
8/2/2011 AP | School Voucher Bills Flood GOP-led Statehouses
7/30/2011 Enlow | Friedman's Dream Unleashed
5/27/2011 Reed | Jeff Reed on WSPD's Brian Wilson and the Afternoon Drive
4/28/2011 Washington Times | States Leaving Feds Behind on School Reforms
4/5/2011 Wall Street Journal | Private-School Tax Break Is Upheld
4/5/2011 Orlando Sentinel | Arizona scholarship program upheld by U.S. Supreme Court, advocates say it gives “wide discretion” to lawmakers who want more choice programs
4/4/2011 School Reform News | Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Tax Scholarship Program
4/4/2011 Foundation Lauds U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Arizona Tax Credit Program
2/28/2011 Why 2011 will be a Year of Growth for School Choice
12/7/2010 Christianity Today | School Choice 2.0
9/2/2010 Enlow | Robert Enlow on Lowman Henry's Newsmakers
3/25/2009 Statement by Friedman Foundation President Robert Enlow on Arizona Supreme Court ruling on Vouchers for Special Needs and Foster Children
3/1/2008 Federal Court Hears Challenge to Arizona Tax Credit Program
6/14/2007 Arizona Superior Court Judge upholds constitutionality of scholarships for disabled and foster children
6/21/2006 Arizona: Three more steps toward universal school choice
6/21/2006 Arizona : three more steps toward universal school choice
3/30/2006 Arizona enacts corporate tuition tax credit, expands educational freedom for second consecutive year
5/20/2005 Arizona Governor Vetoes School Choice
1/19/2005 New report brings transparency to arizona education finance