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Ducey backs ballot initiative to use state funds for private schools

(Photo by Alexis Egeland/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who has made education one of the focal points of his gubernatorial campaign, said he supports a ballot initiative that would continue to provide state funds for parents who want to send their children to private schools.

“It’s not just resources and money, it’s also reforms that are going to bring results and outcomes inside of the classroom,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

“I am someone who believes in school choice. I want a parent to be able to send their child where they want to send them. That’s why I’m a yes on Proposition 305.”

Ducey signed a law in 2017 that would expand the Empowerment Scholarship Account program, which provides state funds for parents who choose to send their children to private schools.

Public school students who have special needs, are in foster care, are in military families, are a sibling of a student in the program, live on an Indian reservation, or have a parent who is legally blind or deaf are eligible to apply for the program.

The 2017 law would eventually make all of Arizona’s public school students eligible to apply.

If Proposition 305 passes, the expansion would continue. If it fails, it would be repealed.

Ducey said the program helps children like Jordan Visser, a student with cerebral palsy and autism who uses the ESA vouchers to access therapy, and Adonis Watt, who is able to use the vouchers to buy his Braille books.

“(Proposition 305 is) going to expand (the program) and it should be expanded, Ducey said. “Why would we want to have it limited when Arizona children need it?

“The ESA, if it is expanded, it’s limited and it’s incremental,” he continued.

“That’s how you move good policy forward. We can bring additional resources into our traditional K-12 system and provide options for teachers.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report. 

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