Why we shouldn’t expand Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

Certain Arizona extremists want to expand a voucherlike program that fails to increase student achievement while costing taxpayers untold millions of dollars — without a shred of proof of results.

LADNER: Why ESAs should be expanded

Arizona’s so-called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts — vouchers in disguise — drain public dollars to fund private-school vouchers, with no accountability.

Research shows that vouchers do nothing for academic achievement. But more troubling, voters and parents will have no way to judge the impact because ESA voucher recipients are exempted from all state assessments — the ones mandated in traditional public schools to measure academic gains.

No accountability, no evidence, no comparison — and no real interest in what’s right for students.

When the Goldwater Institute lobbyists and others first hatched voucher schemes, they promised education gains and careful approaches, including targeted groups of students. Now, the real intent of this program is clear.

Current proposed legislation would expand eligibility to 880,000 students and cost taxpayers more than the investment in our public schools.

House Bill 2291 and Senate Bill 1236 would include all students attending Title I schools in the pool of students eligible for ESA vouchers — about 73 percent of the student population, or nearly 900,000 students.

HB 2291 is sponsored by Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, who is the Arizona chairwoman of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate bill mill wanting to cash in on our kids by privatizing public education.

READ MORE AT AZCentral.com