Autistic Kids Tell Their Stories To Help All Other Arizona Children Have School Choice

The kids at Gateway Academy in Phoenix, Arizona know better than anyone why school choice matters! Most of the students attending Gateway transferred from traditional public schools and use an education savings account (ESA) to pay tuition.

Nearly all of these kids endured severe bullying situations at their former schools.  Also, many of them were being warehoused in special education classes that did not teach specifically to students who are autistic yet incredibly intelligent and in some cases, gifted.

“I felt like I was teaching myself at my public school,” says Antonio Gipson, 17. “Here at Gateway, I’m actually learning from my teachers.”

At Gateway, the kids have classes that challenge them and equally important, they are comfortable at school because they fit in with their peers.

Antonio Gipson, 17, testified at the Arizona House and Senate

in favor of ESAs for all children.

They made the decision to band together and become vocal advocates to help make the case that all Arizona students should have access to education savings accounts (ESAs) allowing them to go to any school they need.

Thanks in part to their hard work and compelling testimony, the Arizona legislature and Gov. Ducey worked together on a law bringing a sweeping expansion of ESAs to every child.

ESA students Diego Martinez, 14, and Antonio Gipson, 17,  helped thank

Gov. Ducey and legislators for the new ESA law.  

Although the new law will not affect the kids at Gateway, who already qualify for ESAs, advocating was their way to “pay it forward” and help all other children in the state who, for whatever reason, may need to find a different school.

Students at Gateway were treated to a special food truck lunch as our thank you to them!

After months of testifying at the legislature, telling their stories and taking part in video projects all to help expand the ESA program, the whole school was treated to a special well-deserved celebratory lunch!

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