NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Education Savings Accounts

January 31, 2011

In 2006 the Arizona Supreme Court ruled against the implementation of a scholarship program for children with disabilities.

The scholarship program struck down in Arizona was based on a Florida school voucher called the McKay Scholarship Program. 

  • The McKay program allows children with disabilities to take a portion of the funding the state would spend on their education and use it at any school they choose.
  • Researchers have found that the program significantly improved learning among Florida's children with disabilities.
  • The Arizona Supreme Court based its decision on a provision in the Arizona Constitution called the Blaine Amendment, which prohibits aid or support to religious schools.
  • Thirty-seven states have similar provisions.

A new report by Matthew Ladner and Nick Dranias, vice president of research and director of the Center for Constitutional Government, respectively, at the Goldwater Institute, recommends creating education savings accounts into which the state would donate funds in exchange for parents agreeing not to enroll their child in a public school.  These accounts would be compatible with the Blaine Amendment. 

  • Parents would be free to use the money for a wide range of educational services, including private school tuition.
  • These accounts would be constitutional and hold distinct advantages over school vouchers.
  • Those advantages include allowing students to save for college and encouraging the creation of innovative low-cost, high quality online and hybrid school models.

Source: Matthew Ladner and Nick Dranias, "Education Savings Accounts: Giving Parents Control of Their Children's Education," Goldwater Institute, January 28, 2011.


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