State Board of Education Fails to Stop Supt. Horne’s New ESA Handbook

State Board of Education Fails to Stop Supt. Horne’s New ESA Handbook


April 24, 2023

Contact: Tyler Kowch, 602-321-7290

State Board of Education Fails to Stop Supt. Horne’s New ESA Handbook

Today, the State Board of Education passed Superintendent Horne’s new ESA Parent Handbook without increasing transparency of taxpayer dollars or boosting child safety. ESA vouchers now cost $500 million per year, and taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are used. Yet, this new ESA voucher handbook decreases accountability, removing allowable items lists that created a modicum of guardrails for spending. 

The ADE’s new ESA voucher handbook waters down instructional standards by stripping away credentialing requirements for instructors — now requiring a mere high school diploma instead of subject-matter degrees or certification. The State Board of Education’s mission is “to develop successful citizens through robust public education;” reducing requirements for ESA voucher instructors directly contradicts this mission, removing all guarantees for parents that their child’s teachers have the pedagogical knowledge or skill to teach core subjects.

The new SBE-approved handbook also fails to improve student safety within the ESA voucher program, leaving children vulnerable to bad actors. The ADE & the State Board could have used the new handbook to put safety processes in place, such as requiring fingerprint clearance or background checks of instructors; the Board, however, has failed to act even after a current ESA vendor was arrested for sexual molestation of a minor at his martial arts studio. 

The handbook was co-written by special interests like the DeVos-backed American Federation for Children, facilitating the AZ Department of Education’s prioritization of their political agenda — putting voucher subsidies for wealthy private academies over the needs of local public school students.

SOSAZ Director Beth Lewis testified, “I am truly devastated that the Board has chosen to enshrine this attack into public policy while utterly failing to increase transparency or accountability of a $500 million per year program that now stands even more rife for bad actors, fraud and abuse because of the inaction of this Board.”