Opponents fall short in effort to block landmark Arizona school choice law

An Arizona anti-school choice organization’s attempt to overturn Arizona’s new universal scholarship program has officially failed.

Save Our Schools Arizona fell short of the 118,823 valid signatures required to challenge the state’s Empowerment Scholarships Account law on an upcoming ballot. This, despite the organization’s claim to have submitted over 141,000 signatures.

On Friday morning, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced the quota for signatures was unmet, though the shortcoming was anticipated as early as Monday.

At that time, school choice advocate Corey A. DeAngelis told The Lion that the failure would mean “families will be free from the clutches of the government school monopoly.”

The ESA victory comes after an explosion in school choice demand since 2018, when a similar Arizona law was killed in a similar move by anti-school choice groups.

Under the new expansion, families can receive nearly $7,000 per year per child for private school education, home-based education, learning pods, tutoring, or other educational services.

School choice supporters reacted to the news on Friday.

“This is the day that Arizona families have been waiting for,” said Jenny Clark, a mother of five and the Executive Director of Love Your School. “Our family, and thousands like ours, have seen firsthand the difference that ESAs can make in our kids’ education.”

“This is a monumental victory for students not only in Arizona, but also across the nation,” said the Goldwater Institute’s Matt Beienburg, director of education policy and director of the Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy. “Lawmakers in every other state now know it’s possible to defeat the radical teachers unions and make students the priority of our education system once again.”