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Education is critical to the success and economic security of future generations. By providing a solid educational foundation from the start, we can ensure that our children have the tools necessary to keep the United States competitive in the global economy.

I strongly believe in the importance of STEM education as we move towards a more technology and data-driven economy. Ensuring all grade levels have access and experience in science, technology, engineering, and math is paramount to building up the next generation of Americans to face the difficulties and challenges ahead.

Here are some of my favorite examples of how Arizona is rising to the STEM challenge:

Arizona Science Center | Engineering is Elementary (EiE)

“Engineering is Elementary (EiE) is a rigorously researched, classroom-tested curriculum that increases students’ interest in and confidence about engineering. EiE is designed to encourage all children—including those from underrepresented groups—to envision themselves as potential engineers.”

Arizona Science Foundation Helios STEM School Pilot

“Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) and the Arizona STEM Network congratulate the seven schools and districts selected as pilot sites for the Helios STEM School Pilot Program. They are part of a strategic partnership and investment by Helios and SFAz to help the Arizona STEM Network develop a coordinated and effective STEM education system that provides the infrastructure, resources and metrics needed to improve educational outcomes and achieve collective impact for Arizona students.”

School Choice

I believe in the inherent value that comes with choices, this is especially true as it relates to educating America’s future generation of problem solvers. School choice is a proven means to effectively spend taxpayer dollars, improve student outcomes, and empower local communities seeking change from a rigid system where a student’s outcome is often defined by their zip code.

Few stakeholders understand the needs and ambition of a child better than parents. Through school choice programs, families can explore diverse learning environments, save for future education, and self-determine the ecosystem that will best foster their child’s needs and passion for learning.

The future skills of our nation’s workforce will require innovative and agile education from an early age. Going forward, we must continue to support the diverse body of educators, families, and students to prepare for the future challenges that society will inevitably face. The limit for any child’s education should not exist – school choice ensures that each child can be developed to their fullest potential.

Here is a thought-provoking example that I believe further highlights the benefits of school choice:

National Review | ESAs Are Changing the Game

“A blind student in Arizona gets about $21,000 a year,” says Marc Ashton, whose son, Max, is legally blind. That $21,000 represents what Arizona spends to educate a student such as Max in the public-school system.

“We took our 90 percent of that, paid for Max to get the best education in Arizona, plus all of his Braille, all of his technology, and then there was still money left over to put toward his college education,” Marc explains. “So he is going to be able to go on to Loyola Marymount University, because we were able to save money, even while sending him to the best school in Arizona, out of what the state would normally pay for him.”

How did the Ashtons do it? Thanks to Arizona’s innovative education savings account (ESA) option, they were able to take 90 percent of the funds the state would have spent on Max in the local public school, and instead create a customized education plan for him. In Arizona, those eligible for an ESA include children in underperforming schools, foster children, children of active-duty military families, and children with special needs and their siblings.”

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