Arizona schoolchildren can get vouchers to attend private schools

State representatives voted Wednesday to let any Arizona youngster get state funds to attend a private or parochial school.

The party-line vote for universal vouchers for all 1.1 million students came even after the Republican majority removed the one bit of accountability that had been inserted in the original plan: a requirement for annual testing of the students who get those tax dollars. Rep. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, who moved to delete the requirement, said what’s happening at private schools is none of the government’s business, even if the test results would not be made public.

But Rep. Kelli Butler, D-Paradise Valley, said the fact that tax dollars will be flowing to those schools is precisely what gives the state an interest. “We will not know if students are using. our tax dollars — $7,000 is the typical award — if they’re using that money to learn anything,” she said.

House Majority Leader Ben Toma, R-Peoria, who crafted HB 2853, said those who demand testing of students in private schools, even if their tuition is being partly or fully funded with state tax dollars, are missing a key point.

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