Last week, we introduced you to Jordan Visser, a student who has found academic and life success through the opportunities afforded to him by Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
As South Carolina considers whether ESAs are a good option to help children in our state succeed, it is helpful to explore how they have worked in other states. Jordan’s family lives in Arizona, the first state to enact an Education Savings Account program, so Arizona is a perfect place to start.
Arizona passed their version of ESAs, called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, in 2011. Since then these accounts have been expanded to several different student populations, including military families, those who have been enrolled in failing schools or school districts, students who have been adopted out of the state foster system, those with disabilities, those who live on Native American Reservations, and siblings of current or previously enrolled ESA students.
Success has been building year after year.
This fall, there are 2,909 students benefitting from Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, with 22% of Arizona’s student population now eligible to participate in the program. This year, the program will deposit an average of almost $13,000 into each participant’s bank account to be used for an education that is 100% customized by parents.
When the program launched in 2012, only 153 students benefitted from it. So in just 5 short years, enrollment has increased 18-fold!
Though the number of students enrolled is growing every year, the success of the program is seen most clearly in the new opportunities students have been able to access through tuition assistance, homeschooling, or the ability to afford tutoring, new textbooks, or therapy. Thankfully, families in Arizona are sharing their stories so we can let them do the talking.
Check out the gains that Jordan Visser has improved from both an academic and physical standpoint.
Though statistics will not tell you how Salima, who has Down Syndrome, was able to find the right school, her proud parents will. They will tell you how stress and anguish turned into a joyful learning experience with a teacher Salima loves.
In Arizona, ESA’s are about changed lives. Let Jennie Rubio and her son Ezequiel tell you of the opportunities they have been afforded by the Empowerment Scholarship Account program.
Source: American Federation for Children
Over and over again, year after year, Arizona’s successful ESA program grows as an example to other states of the power education choice has to expand new hope and opportunity to students. South Carolina can learn from this success and make sure every child in the Palmetto State has the chance to reach their full God-given potential.