PHOENIX — State senators voted Monday to do what opponents have argued has been their agenda all along — allow every one of the more than 1 million students in Arizona the opportunity to attend private and parochial schools with tax dollars.
The 17-13 vote starts the process of removing the restrictions that now exist for vouchers, restrictions that to date limit enrollment in the program to no more than 5,500 students. Current law makes these “empowerment scholarship accounts” available only to students with special needs, those living on reservations and youngsters in schools rated D or F.
By the 2018 school year, all restrictions would be gone. And the following year, the numerical cap on vouchers, currently 0.5 percent of all students in public schools, self-destructs.
The only restriction that would be left is that a student first has to attend a public school. But that need not be for more than 100 days. And it could be in kindergarten.