Arizona Judge Rules Voucher Program Constitutional

Published January 30, 2012

An Arizona judge has refused to block education savings accounts for disabled and foster children in the state, removing one more hurdle to school choice for the state’s one million schoolchildren.

“The exercise of parental choice among education options makes the program constitutional,” ruled Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Maria del Mar Verdin. “The monies are earmarked for a student’s educational needs as a parent may deem fit—not endorsed directly to a private institution in an all or nothing fashion.”

A lawsuit by the state’s teachers union and other groups requested a preliminary injunction to stop the program, arguing it violated a state constitutional provision against sending state aid directly to private schools. They have promised an appeal.

“The program gives parents a full menu of educational options on which to spend the funds,” noted Tim Keller, executive director of the Institute for Justice Arizona, which represented parents in the case. In that way, it is abundantly clear the program aids individuals, not institutions.”

The program, first of its kind in the nation, lets parents apply for an Arizona Empowerment Account and use funds the state deposits into it for a wide variety of educational expenses, including tutoring, private tuition, textbooks, and college. 

—Staff reports


Image by Abby Batchelder.