October 12, 2018
This election cycle brings numerous propositions for Arizona voters to research, review, and make decisions on as we prepare to vote.
Proposition 305 is one such initiative that voters are learning more about in order to make an informed decision. AFHE has received numerous inquiries about our organization’s position on Prop 305.
As a general rule, AFHE does not take a position on propositions, and since Prop 305 is not a homeschool-related issue, our organization does not have recommendations for voters on this topic.
Some information for clarification purposes
Prop 305 seeks to expand the eligibility for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA). The ESA is a unique classification of student in Arizona and is separate from homeschooling. Homeschoolers are not eligible to apply for the ESA and, as such, Prop 305 does not impact homeschooling in Arizona. A student must be enrolled in the public school for 100 days and meet other eligibility requirements to apply for the ESA, so only public school students may apply. (There are exceptions for siblings of students who already have an ESA and a couple of other special circumstances).
Parents of ESA contract students have two choices once they are approved for the program: they can enroll their child in a private school – or – they can teach their child at home and use the ESA funds for tutors, therapies, service providers for children with special needs, some curriculum and resources, and other authorized expenditures. At last report, approximately 85% of the ESA population is enrolled in a private school and 15% of ESA contract students are taught at home.
Arizona law articulates that ESA contract students taught at home do not file an Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool. In addition, ESA contract students do not fall under the protection of the homeschool statute or meet the legal definition of a homeschooled student. Because ESA contract students taught at home operate in much the same way as homeschoolers in the day-to-day, there are many similarities and there is often confusion about the distinction between the two student classifications. The ESA is taxpayer funded, has a particular level of oversight and regulation, and instruction may be provided primarily by someone other than the parent. Homeschooling is parent-led and privately funded and this nonpublic instruction is provided primarily by the parent or in the child’s home. When a family chooses to homeschool, they are taking full responsibility for their child’s education including the financial obligation.
AFHE fully supports parents in choosing whichever education option best meets their children’s needs, including the ESA, which has been a great help in particular to families who have children with special needs requiring expensive therapies. We are blessed to live in a state with so many options from which to choose. It is our desire for parents to have enough information to aid in making the best decision for their own family. Every education option in our state has benefits, requirements, responsibilities, and restrictions.
The mission of AFHE is to encourage and equip families who have chosen parent-led, privately funded homeschooling in accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes and to protect homeschool freedom. We are honored to serve Arizona homeschool families for 35 years and counting.
The most important thing we as parents have in common, regardless of where or how education is received, is a love for our children and a desire to see them grow, learn, and thrive—and that is something worth celebrating. Whichever education option you choose for your child, we pray for great success.
For more information about Arizona homeschool law and the different education options available to families in our state, visit AFHE.ORG/AZ-LAW
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One of the questions we are asked regularly is whether there is a tax credit for homeschoolers or if homeschool materials can be deducted from one’s income taxes. The short answer is no, in Arizona there is neither a tax credit nor a tax deduction for homeschool expenses. READ MORE