During National School Choice Week, we celebrate the policies that enable families to choose the learning environments that align with their values and work best for their children. School choice policies recognize that parents—the people who know their children best and love them most—are in the best position to decide where and how children are educated. Whereas bureaucrats and politicians tend to focus narrowly on test scores, parents take a more holistic approach to education. Parents are looking for schools that take moral instruction and character development seriously—schools that not only produce good workers, but that produce good citizens, good neighbors, and good people. That’s why many families want faith-based instruction to be the heart of their child’s education.
Arizona has long been at the forefront of empowering families with education choice. In 1997, Arizona became the first state to offer tax-credit scholarships, and in 2011 it became the first state to offer K–12 education savings accounts (ESAs). With an ESA, families have the freedom and flexibility to customize their child’s education. Families can use ESA funds on private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, homeschool curricula, online learning, and more. In 2021, Arizona expanded eligibility for the ESA to all K–12 students, leading a universal education choice revolution nationwide and earning it the top spot for education choice in The Heritage Foundation’s Education Freedom Report Card two years in a row. In “Making the Grade,” we profile four faith-based schools in Arizona to see the difference that education choice policies make for the families they serve.
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When you consider the things that these Families have been pushed out of for Decades and now they get to come in and Do this this is everything that they've Prayed for thanks to the policies in Arizona we have been able to serve Whoever wants to come they can come We're able to make it work with Esa Money we were able to pay for our son's Aid and my son can read now and he Couldn't read [Music] Before okay [Music] My favorite subject is probably writing Or math spelling composition and grammar Spelling wow I think the minuses are so Fun but the pluses I think are so hard We are reading different books like Little bear and frog and toad we do Problems on the Whiteboard like 53 plus 702 and stuff a hyrax is like this Little animal they kind of look like a Rabbit I like it way better than my Other school we've seen in Arizona how Education choice is the rising tide that Lifts all boats Arizona was the first State to adopt a tax credit scholarship In 1997 and in 2015 Arizona was the first State to adopt an education savings Account Arizona has been the fastest Improving State on the national Assessment for Education progress and we
Expect that other states that follow Arizona's lead will see similar results When you have education freedom you have A wide diversity of options so families Can choose the schools that align with Their Values our mission is to partner with Families in nurturing their children for Academic and spiritual growth so we have 120 students in our school preschoolers All the way through sixth grade the Unique thing about our school is that we Are a hybrid model which means that we Are blend between homeschool and at School learning our students are on Campus Tuesdays and Thursdays for Instruction Wednesdays are optional and They're a really fun day because Students get to attend electives and we Have music stem art and culinary art Mondays and Fridays are at home days so The same curriculum that we use on Campus transfers to home as well and the Parents do the educating on Mondays and Fridays I've taught online I've taught In public school night and day Difference here I think the biggest Difference is I'm able to give my Students the time and energy that they Need because I only have 15 kids there's So many uh different types of learning Environments they encourage movement They encourage kids to be expressive and Not just sit and be quiet and spit back
Out whatever information they're given I Truly believe that the esa has enabled Us to exist this year and to thrive Nearly all of the families that attend Our school use the esa we intentionally Set tuition below the esa allotment so That it would be accessible to all Families with an education savings Account or as they known in Arizona Empowerment scholarship accounts Families have the freedom and Flexibility to truly customize their Child's education within Esa families Can tap into 90% of the funding that the State would have spent on their child at A traditional public School I love Latin I love classical Studies it's a good base for language Formation starting to create that Foundation of patterns my sister Actually said hey have you heard of Highland ldin School a classical Education is simply studying the Ancients studying Greece the best things That came out of Rome and Jerusalem to Instill virtue and wisdom into a child So that they will love their Western Heritage their western civilization and Pass that on to the next Generation Esa Has made it possible for us to be in This school they can use those funds for Things like private school tuition Tutoring homeschool curricula online Learning textbooks school uniforms and
Special needs therapy and they can also Roll over unused funds from year to year To save for later Expenses the mission of the school is to Teach our kids to become like Christ Through a classical Christian education Within the covenantal community we just Do it in Spanish we pour into the kids Learning their native tongue and then we Slowly integrate the immersion in Greater percentages so that they would Learn how to speak read and write both Languages at grade level these kids are Really able to take the beauty that is Classical education that push rdge has Done for the last 25 years the way that We do the Arts and the way we do Athletics we now get to do that in Spanish in a neighborhood that is Predominantly Spanish speaking around Schools that never see anything like This we feel that the public school is Lacking in uh educating the children Nowadays so you wanted something better For our daughter our daughter has Flourished here she loves coming to School when she's on vacation she misses Being here we're both Hispanic so we Both speak the language we both speak Spanish and her grandparents they only Speak Spanish so we wanted her to Continue to be able to communicate with Them under Arizona's tax credit Scholarship policy families apply to
School tuition organizations or stos for Scholarships that they can use to pay For private school tuition and donors to The stos get dollar for dooll tax Credits when they file their taxes so All but one family last year used stos And they were fully funded you know when We first started this school we didn't Have the building yet but these stos Would show up at a cafe down the street And they would literally share with These moms hey this is the education That's available to you and this is how We're here to help you financially they Have gone above and beyond to ensure That these kids have these scholarship Ship oh I mean we wouldn't be able to Have her here at push rdge without um Without that help yeah Theos have Completely help us yeah because of the Scholarships is why we're able to give Her this kind of education Yes Tor Day School was founded in 2010 So we started with seven kids it was Actually started in my house and thanks To really the policies in Arizona we Have grown tremendously since we started With seven students now we have over 400 Most of the students who come to our School come from low-income families so We have a lot of students who are able To receive the corporate tax credit Scholarship from Arizona and we have Children who are also receiving an Esa
We never wanted to turn a child away Because their parents couldn't pay Anything thanks to the policies in Arizona we have been able to maintain That open door policy parents are Looking for schools that take character Development the moral development of Their child seriously unfortunately in The district school system too often Students are expected to leave their Faith at the schoolhouse door and for a Lot of families having a religious Outlook having God front and center in The classroom is something that is Really important so when I was looking For a school for my daughter um I wanted Something different I actually was a Teacher so I was in public education for Several years I wanted a um a Christian Worldview to be taught to my daughter at Our K Christian we're really seeking to Develop students to be contributing Members of society and uh to be Authentic Lovers of people so going out and Sharing the good news of Jesus with all That they they meet we decided to trust Highland Latin School with this Educational Journey with our sons Because I think it all comes down to Identity and who they are in relation to God the source of love and truth and who They are in relation to um themselves Who God made them to be and learning
About how to get along in this world With others religious study infus the Entire day at Tor Day School of Phoenix We have half a day of religious studies Half a day of General Studies however The religion permeates everything so From how the kids dress when they come To school we make sure that it's a Religious dress code we serve kosher Food we have misas on the door we try to Have religious extra cric activities Happening and that's the reason why Parents send their children to our School is because they want that Religious environment they want their Kids to learn Judaism and to appreciate Judaism and to love Judaism these Parents who were shut out of the schools For so long even when they were children Their parents were shut out now they Come to a school in a safe way where They get to be involved and everything That's coming I can just pop in and see My child yes absolutely I can just come In and help out with the teacher Absolutely I can come in and do Chapel With you guys absolutely wait you're Going to do Chapel in Spanish as well as English every other week yes absolutely Wait a minute my child gets to praise The Lord in the hindos that my Grandparents s to me in the tongue in The language that they sing to me in Mariachi class while they're playing
Guitars yes Absolutely they're really learning how To come together in a beautiful new way To ensure that their children have a Christian education without losing the Cultura but always remembering this is The beauty of push rich Christian Academy is that Jesus is above all Politicians and bureaucrats often try to Judge schools along one objective metric Test scor and that's one thing that Parents consider but parents take a much More holis IC look at education parents Don't want schools that only produce Good workers they want schools that are Producing good citizens good neighbors And good people if other states want to Have an education system that truly Empowers families following Arizona's Lead and enacting education savings Accounts is the way to go there's enough Bad people in the world right now and a Lot of chaos going on and I think like We're made to be bold and different and I think that's something that we're Trying to do here with these kiddos is Teach them that that's good to be bold And [Music] Different