BRIEF: School Choice in the States April 2015

Arkansas – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

On April 8, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed Arkansas’ first school choice program into law, making it the 25th state (plus Washington D.C.) to enact a private school choice program. The signature of HB 1552 created the Succeed Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities, which allows students who have attended public school for at least one year and have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or active-duty military parent to be eligible to receive a school voucher.

Arizona – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

Gov. Doug Ducey signed two key education bills into law to expand educational opportunity for Arizona students on April 7. SB 1332 expanded eligibility of Arizona’s innovative education savings account (ESA) program to students living in tribal lands. The expansion allows 55,000 students on 22 reservations in Arizona to participate. Additionally, HB 2153 improved the state’s tax-credit scholarship program to allow for contributions from small businesses. Enacted in 2006, the tax credit was available for contributions only from C-Corporations to school tuition organizations. With this new expansion, S-Corporations are also eligible to receive a tax credit for up to 100 percent of their contributions to the scholarship program.

Indiana – Robert Enlow @RobertEnlow

The Indiana legislature voted to increase the state tax-credit scholarship program’s tax credit cap by $1 million per year and removed the state’s voucher program funding cap for elementary students.

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) released a report in April on the impact of Indiana’s school choice programs, specifically its school voucher program. The study not only condemned Indiana school vouchers, but voucher programs in general. As one might expect, the report was hotly debated with many questioning the report’s exclusion of studies and other supporting data. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice weighed in here.

Louisiana – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

The Education Research Alliance for New Orleans released a report in April that examined how school leaders respond to competition from school choice. The report found many schools responded by improving their marketing tactics, which opponents of school choice heralded as a negative effect of school choice. Visit our blog to read our take on the survey findings.

Maryland – Doran Moreland @Dmoreland9

The Friedman Foundation released a report, “The Achievement Checkup,” which examined the educational attainment—including high school graduation rates and college attendance rates—of Baltimore students who received private school scholarships during their elementary and middle school years. Find a helpful summary of the report’s key findings here.

Minnesota – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

The Friedman Foundation released the “Minnesota K-12 and School Choice Survey” on April 15. The survey gathered Minnesota voters’ opinions on the current state of K-12 education, their public schools, school choice programs, and more. Click here to learn the top seven key findings.

Mississippi – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

On April 16, Gov. Phil Bryant signed SB 2695 into law, enacting the nation’s third ESA program. Known in Mississippi as the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act, the program creates state-funded accounts of up to $6,500 for families of children with special needs. To learn more about the program’s eligibility, funding, regulations, and more, visit our website.

Montana – Michael Chartier @mchart1

The Montana legislature passed two school choice bills this session. SB 322, which would have created a special needs education savings account (ESA) program for students with special needs, was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Steve Bullock. Additionally, HB 410, which will create a tax-credit scholarship program, is currently sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting his decision.

Nevada – Michael Chartier @mchart1 

Gov. Brian Sandoval signed AB 165, which created a tax-credit scholarship program.  This is Nevada’s first school choice program, making it the 26th state to join the school choice family. SB 302, a universal ESA bill, also passed out of the Senate Education Committee and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Tennessee – Brittany Corona @BrittanyLCorona

The Tennessee legislature passed SB 27/HB138, companion bills that will create the state’s first private school choice program and possibly the nation’s fourth ESA. The Individualized Education Act would allow parents of children with certain special needs to use a portion of their state education funds to customize their child’s education. The bill is currently awaiting signature on Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk. For a breakdown of this bill, visit our blog.