As an Arizona native and product of our public schools, I am proud that Arizona has become a national leader for school choice and allowing families to access multiple public school options that best meet the needs of their children. As a mom and member of the Agua Fria Union High School Governing Board, I know that access to a quality classroom can change a child’s life for the better. I am an education advocate, which means I support policies that empower every family to make the best education decision for their children.
Arizona lawmakers just cracked the code for education funding in Arizona. But perhaps not in the way they intended. The breakthrough came during Phoenix mom Elyssa Garcia’s testimony on SB 1280, a bill which would provide much needed transportation funding flexibility for Arizona public school families.
Despite widespread advances in technology and educational research in recent decades, most states use a one-size-fits-all public education model that looks largely the same as it did a century ago. But Arizona has been an outlier, leading the way in expanding educational opportunities and providing families with options that allow them to find a school that best fits the needs of their students. Now, policymakers in Arizona are once blazing education innovation trails with a bill that would give educators even greater flexibility to adopt learning models that fit the unique needs of students.
For decades, attendance zones have intentionally blocked out predominantly students of color, students with disabilities and low-income students from the best public schools. This must stop. Enrollment processes like 'first come, first serve' disenfranchise the working poor who cannot afford to miss days of work to wait in line and schools should not be asking questions like the birth country of origin before a child is enrolled.
Many American families have few options outside of their residentially assigned schools, but it doesn’t have to be this way. One way policymakers can put parents in the driver’s seat is through a form of public school choice that everyone can get on board with — inter-district school choice, which allows families to enroll in schools across district boundaries.