Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law yesterday the expansion of an Arizona school choice program, explicitly making children of active military members eligible to participate - a first nationwide. The expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program also makes students in failing public schools or school districts and those adopted out of the state foster care system eligible starting in the 2013-14 school year. Currently, Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) are available only to Arizona children with special needs. The program allows parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive 90 percent of their state funding deposited into an account. Children’s ESA funds can go toward private school tuition, online courses, tutoring services, textbooks, and even future college expenses. Qualifying families do not have to meet income requirements.It's not Parent Performance Contracting, but we're closing on it. The most effective institutional accountability mechanism that humans have yet devised is a policy that lets unhappy customers take their business elsewhere. "You cut, I choose" is the formula for fair sharing of resources. In public policy, where insider interest groups like public employee organizations have a strong incentive to run up the bill, policies that empower customers with the power to apply their share of the budget to institutions other than those which insiders control create escape options for customers and incentives for insiders to limit demands on taxpayers. Hawaii's legislature remains indifferent to the welfare of children and taxpayers. Update: Here. To quote one of the Scottish nobles after Mel Gibson's Wallace torpedos negotiations with the English commander at Stirling: "That was rather less civil than he was used to".
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser recently reported that NAEP Science scores put the Hawaii DOE in the national cellar, as usual. Meanwhile, Arizona's legal environment moves toward greater parent control over schooling and more financial accountability for schools, as the Friedman Foundation reports here: