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Vox Investigates: Arizona Universal ESA Vouchers

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

ESA - Educational Savings Account. Sounds innocent enough, right?

Vox investigative reporter Andrew Prokop took the time to explain last week the MAGA education extremists' "true Holy Grail: public money funding private school tuition, for all who want it, including middle-class and wealthy families."

“It’s really hard to overstate how different from any kind of previous legislation these programs are,” said Liz Cohen, policy director for Georgetown University’s FutureEd think tank. “It’s not income-tested; it’s not about getting the lowest-income kids in the worst schools. Prior to three years ago, I would have bet a lot of money you would have never seen this happen.”

West Virginia and Arizona led the way in implementing ESA programs over the last couple of years, and this year a flood of states followed: Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah. More are likely to follow.

Former Arizona Superintendent of Public Schools Kathy Hoffman (D) said that 75 percent of applicants had never attended public schools in Arizona. Our tax dollars are now paying for private school tuition for families who have never sent their kids to public schools. Families who have always been able to afford private school tuition. Our tax dollars can even be used for marketing those private schools.

No student testing is required, so we have no way of knowing which schools are actually educating the children. Right now, the only data we have is enrollment—no performance data.

Opponents of ESAs have long predicted that public schools would be forced to close if the program were expanded this way. Sure enough, Arizona's current Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Horne (R-MAGA) has already said he will push to close public schools whose enrollment is dropping.

There are few controls on the spending, too. Families have been buying tickets to Disneyland, setting up home gyms, and misusing our tax dollars in hundreds of ways that don't impact the education.

The Arizona universal ESA voucher program is bankrupting our public education system. It has grown wildly over budget, and there are few controls in place to ensure the money is spent as it was intended to educate children.


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