Special Education News in Brief

Arizona Creates Vouchers for Special Ed. Students

By Nirvi Shah — April 19, 2011 2 min read

Lawmakers in Arizona, where a private-school-voucher program for students with disabilities was found unconstitutional in 2009, are trying a new approach to pay for special education students’ tuition outside of public schools.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed a measure into law April 12 that will allow the parents of students with disabilities to sign up for an “empowerment scholarship” account that could be used to pay for tuition, tutoring, online courses, classes at home, or college classes while the students are still in high school. The families could also choose to save the money and use it to help pay for full-time college after the students graduate.

The state will make payments into those accounts equal to 90 percent of what a public school would have received to educate the student. That amount varies based on the child’s disability. A state Senate analysis of the bill showed that for students with mild disabilities, schools are provided about $5,000 a year, while for students with the greatest needs, schools are provided about $30,000 a year.

All of the state’s 17,000 students with disabilities will be eligible for an account starting this fall, as long as they are full-time students who attended a public school for at least 100 days of the previous fiscal year or were receiving a scholarship from a “school tuition organization.” Such organizations in Arizona are funded by donations made in exchange for state income-tax credits.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court rebuffed a challenge to the tax-credit program by taxpayers who had argued it is unconstitutional because the tuition organizations can limit their grants to students who will use them at religious schools. (“High Court Tax-Credit Ruling Could Offer New Momentum to School Choice Supporters,” April 20, 2011.)

The same day that Gov. Brewer signed the special-education-voucher legislation, she vetoed a bill that would have expanded the tax-credit program.

The new empowerment-scholarship law requires the state to perform random audits of the education savings accounts to ensure the money is being spent properly.

Several other states, including Florida, Georgia, and Utah, allow public money to be used for private school tuition for students with disabilities. Ohio allows students diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to use a voucher for education services from a private provider.

The Arizona Education Association, which challenged the earlier Arizona voucher law, is still weighing whether to file suit over the new version.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 20, 2011 edition of Education Week as Arizona Creates Vouchers for Special Ed. Students


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education 'They Already Feel Like Bad Students.' A Special Educator Reflects on Virtual Teaching
In a year of remote teaching, a high school special ed teacher has seen some of his students struggle and some thrive.
4 min read
Tray Robinson, a special education teacher, sits for a photo at Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos, Calif., on April 21, 2021.
Tray Robinson, a special education teacher, says remote learning has provided new ways for some of his students to soar, and has made others want to quit.
Sarahbeth Maney for Education Week
Special Education What the Research Says Gifted Education Comes Up Short for Low-Income and Black Students
Wildly disparate gifted education programs can give a minor boost in reading, but the benefits mainly accrue to wealthy and white students.
8 min read
Silhouette of group of students with data overlay.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Special Education What the Research Says Most Students With Disabilities Still Attend Remotely. Teachers Say They're Falling Behind
A new survey finds that students with disabilities are struggling in virtual classes, even with added support from teachers.
3 min read
Image shows a young femal student working on a computer from phone, interfacing with an adult female.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Special Education Whitepaper
A Comprehensive Guide to the IEP Process
Download this guide to learn strategies for bringing together all stakeholders to plan an IEP that addresses the whole child; using relia...
Content provided by n2y