Two Republican candidates for the Minnesota Legislature want to follow Arizona’s example by bringing universal school choice to the state.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski, currently running for Senate District 20, and Pam Altendorf, a candidate for House District 20A, have authored an “Education Freedom Act” that they plan to introduce if elected.
They said the bill would mirror Arizona’s newly-enacted “universal school choice” legislation and make Minnesota the “second state to support tax dollars following the student.” In Arizona, all K-12 students are now eligible for $6,500 in scholarship funds per year for private schools, homeschooling, tutors, or “any other kind of educational service that helps meet the needs of students outside the traditional public school system.”
The program is available to every student in the state, unlike other school-choice programs, which often have income or eligibility restrictions. Some programs, for instance, are only available to students who are enrolled in a public school, have a disability, or attend a low-performing school.
“Students are our future and most precious asset and yet our ‘one-size-fits-all’ education approach is clearly not working,” Altendorf said.
She and Drazkowski were inspired to author the bill after hosting a series of town halls with voters across their district. They said Minnesota spends roughly 40% of “every state tax dollar on education” but still has a widening achievement gap and failing schools.
“Education freedom will remove the limiting constraints of our current system and empower parents and their children to find educational success,” said Drazkowski.
Their bill would provide families with roughly $6,700 in annual funds per pupil.
“Parents know their child best,” Altendorf said. “[By] allowing parents and their tax dollars to have the final word on where their child is educated, we will then start to see underperforming schools get weeded out and productive schools will grow.”
Their bill would likely be supported by Dr. Scott Jensen and Matt Birk, who are running at the top of the Republican ticket.
“If you’re talking about social justice, I think you have to be talking about parental choice when it comes to schools,” Birk previously told Alpha News. “How are you going to tell a family that their student can’t go to a certain school because of economic factors but other students who have the financial means can?”