An Arizona scholarship program that allows certain students to receive aid from the state for a variety of educational services, including private school tuition, was ruled constitutional by the Arizona Court of Appeals last week.
The program was challenged by teachers’ unions and school board associations in the state that argued it violated the state constitution’s aid and religion clauses, which bar the distribution of public money to private or religious schools. However, the court found that the so-called “empowerment” scholarships provide families with an array of educational options.
Certain groups of students—those with special needs, children in active-duty military families, foster children, and families with students in D- or F-rated schools—are eligible for the voucher-style aid. The money may be used for private school tuition, educational therapy services and aides, textbooks, college tuition, online learning courses, and college textbooks, among other educational expenses.
A recent analysis from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice found that the vast majority of families receiving the aid (207 out of 316) use it at least in part for private school tuition; 34 percent of the families use the aid for multiple educational expenses.