Gov. Doug Ducey has signed SB1332 into law, officially expanding the state’s innovate Empowerment Scholarship Account program offering unprecedented educational options to all students living on tribal lands, which includes 22 reservations in total.

“We are very thankful to Gov. Ducey and the bill sponsor, Sen. Carlyle Begay, for their commitment to addressing the long-standing education problems on the state’s reservations,” said Kevin Chavous, executive counsel for the American Federation for Children. “These children have been ignored long enough when it comes to providing them with quality educational options. Today Gov. Ducey did his part to right that wrong.”

According to the Arizona Department of Education, Native American students have the state’s lowest graduation rate at 61 percent making Native children less likely to graduate than any other ethnicity or group including students with special needs.

Arizona has the second largest Native American student population in the United States. Most of the 55,000 Native American students in Arizona attend school on or near their reservation. The new law gives these families on tribal lands, mostly in rural areas, the opportunity to customize their children’s education. Parents can choose how to use their state-funded education accounts and can pay for options like private school tuition, online classes, homeschooling or other education related expenses.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Carlyle Begay, D- Ganado, who has made education in his district, including the Navajo Nation and eight other Tribal communities, a top priority.  

“My gratitude goes out to Gov. Ducey ... for signing a bill that means so much to families living in my district and throughout all of Arizona’s tribal communities,” Sen. Carlyle Begay, D-Ganado said. “Native American parents went from having almost no options to having a mechanism to build their child’s education around their child’s learning needs. It is an exciting first step toward fixing education on tribal lands!”

With the new law, ESA eligibility now includes students in D or F rated schools, students with special needs, students in adoptive care, students with an active-duty military parent, siblings of an ESA recipient, and students living within the boundaries of an Arizona reservation.

(3) comments

DeniseCastleman

Great post, just what i was looking for and i am looking forward to reading your other posts soon!

great article

Durable Brad

Hopefully, Senator Begay will fight as hard for the rights of the underrepresented taxpayers in District III of Apache County. [beam]

Fabian Bush

We pay more sales taxes than you, if it wasn't for us Tribal Members many of our businesses would go under. We spend millions, millions of dollars to off reservation economies. Your are crying for a few pennies you pay in taxes. That old-stuff. We also pay with our 'lives" in the battle fields in foreign wars you started. The publics schools are "well-paid" for "educating" Native American students. You will never-ever pay for the land you "stole" from Tribes here Arizona. You paid back .50 cents an acre for the land you took. You need to know this. Do we live in "peace" or racial adversaries, again. It's your call!

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