Our View: Despite voucher vote, school choice is better than no choice

November 10, 2018

Voter rejection of Arizona Prop. 305 was a confounding setback for school choice in a state known as a leader on the issue.

Even though a whopping 65 percent of voters said no to expanding an indirect school voucher system, the election results may have said more about the ballot measure itself than the concept of state-supported school choice.

The ballot language called for the approval of a bill approved by the Legislature (the language of which wasn’t in the ballot question), left open the question of real costs and left some specifics to be worked out later.

It also lacked for campaign advocates as lawmakers were almost forced to jump on the public education bandwagon after approving 20 percent raises for teachers.

Unfortunately, the vote will be seen as a majority of Arizonans rejecting school choice.

Against that argument, the Legislature will have a difficult time crafting new and better school choice laws, especially with Republicans apparently dropping to a single one-vote majority in the Senate.

Even new Senate Majority Whip and former Marine Sonny Borrelli of Lake Havasu City would have a very tough time with that vote wrangling.

In our view Prop. 305 expanded school choice in a measured way, expanding eligibility to the general population to provide a large enough program that it could be measured and tested for further expansion.

While public schools deserve strong financial support, the RedforEd movement, with its threats and confrontation, left a sour taste. The state can’t be held hostage by public employees. School choice offers a way around the ransom.

More broadly, expanded school choice offers real options for low-income areas which are often tied to lower-performing schools. Good education solves a lot of society’s problems and that’s the overall goal.

Lawmakers may understandably avoid this topic for a while given the defeat of Pro. 305. The benefit of doing so may be new bills that reflect more consensus and understanding in a bi-partisan way.

Choice is a good thing.

— Today’s News-Herald

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