January 29, 2023 by Dan Mitchell
- In 2021, West Virginia adopted statewide school choice.
- In 2022, Arizona adopted statewide school choice.
- In 2023, Iowa adopted statewide school choice.
Now Utah has joined the club, with Governor Spencer Cox approving a new law that will give families greater freedom to choose the best educational options for their children.
Here are some details from , reporting for the Deseret News.
The Utah Senate gave final passage to legislation that will provide $8,000 scholarships to qualifying families for private schools and other private education options… The bill passed by a two-thirds margin in each legislative house, which means it cannot be challenged by referendum. …The bill creates the Utah Fits All Scholarship, which can then be used for education expenses like curriculum, textbooks, education, software, tutoring services, micro-school teacher salaries and private school tuition.
As you might expect, teacher unions and their allies are very disappointed – which is a very positive sign.
…the Utah Education Association…opposed HB215… The bill was also opposed by the Utah State Board of Education, Utah PTA, school superintendents, business administrators and school boards. The Alliance for a Better Utah was pointed in its reaction… “Conservative lawmakers just robbed our neighborhood schools of $42 million. Private school vouchers have been and continue to be opposed by Utahns but these lawmakers are instead pursuing a national agenda to ‘destroy public education.’
The Wall Street Journal opined on this great development.
School choice is gaining momentum across the country, and this week Utah joined Iowa in advancing the education reform cause. …Utah’s bill, which the Senate passed Thursday, 20-8, makes ESAs of $8,000 available to every student. There’s no income cap on families who can apply, though lower-income families receive preference and the program is capped at $42 million. The funds can be used for private school tuition, home-schooling expenses, tutoring, and more.
But the best part of the editorial is the look at other states that may be poised to expand educational freedom.
About a dozen other state legislatures have introduced bills to create new ESA programs, and several want to expand the ones they have. In Florida a Republican proposal would extend the state’s already robust scholarship programs to any student in the state. The bill would remove income limits that are currently in place for families who want to apply, though lower-income applicants would receive priority. …South Carolina legislators are mulling a new ESA program for lower-income students. In Indiana, a Senate bill would make state ESAs available to more students. An Ohio bill would remove an income cap and other eligibility rules for the state’s school vouchers. Two Oklahoma Senate bills propose new ESA programs… ESA bills are in some stage of moving in Nebraska, New Hampshire, Texas and Virginia.
Let’s hope there is more progress.
School choice is a win-win for both students and taxpayers.
P.S. Here’s a must-see chart showing how more and more money for the government school monopoly has produced zero benefit.
P.P.S. There are very successful school choice systems in Canada, Sweden, Chile, and the Netherlands.
P.P.P.S. Getting rid of the Department of Education would be a good idea, but the battle for school choice is largely going to be won and lost on the state and local level.
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