Category Archives: Education

Schapira to Fight Right-Wing Conspiracy to Destroy Public Schools

David Schapira is a Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

David Schapira is a Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

At first, David Schapira thought that Republican state legislators didn’t get it. He thought they didn’t realize the damage caused by taking $1.1 billion out of our public school system.

But after six years in the state legislature, he realized he was wrong.

“They do get it,” he said. “They are intentionally working to dismantle the public school system in Arizona.”

Speaking at the Tanque Verde Valley Democrats meeting, Schapira warned ominously, “Our public schools are on life support. If Diane Douglas is re-elected, she will let our schools die,” he says.”

A mountain of a man at 6-foot-5, he vowed to fight back. Schapira is a Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, which oversees the state of Arizona’s public school system and directs the state’s Department of Education.

Schapira, age 37, knows how to get elected. He’s a Tempe city councilman, a former state representative and senator. As the leader of the Senate Democrats, he served on the Education Committee for six years.

Importantly, he’s a teacher. He has taught school high school, worked as a school administrator and has been at East Valley Institute of Technology for the last four years.

His proudest achievement is the Tempe Free Preschool program for low-income families, launched in April 2017.  “I’ve seen education from every perspective it can be seen from,” he says.

Douglas not qualified Continue reading

Now comes the attempt to prevent the Save Our Schools Arizona referendum from qualifying for the ballot

I mentioned in a comment that last week the right-wing Public Integrity Alliance was claiming that the Glendale Elementary School District personnel and Save Our Schools Arizona violated rules regarding the use of public resources to influence political campaigns in their referendum campaign against the “vouchers on steroids” bill passed by our Tea-Publican legislature, and signed into law by our Koch-bot Governor Ducey. Non-profit alleges campaign volunteers, school district violated election laws.

Now the big guns of the right-wing are rolling out their attacks to try to prevent the referendum from qualifying for the ballot. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Voucher expansion on hold as effort to kill campaign begins:

School voucher expansion legislation is on hold after Save Our Schools Arizona delivered, by the group’s count, 111,540 signatures today to refer the law to the 2018 general election ballot.

A yellow school bus decked out in SOS Arizona banners carried the signatures to a loading deck below the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office. Volunteers in red SOS Arizona shirts loaded wagons full of petition boxes, and children dressed as professionals carted them to the building.

Beyond the spectacle, spokeswoman Dawn Penich-Thacker (above) was clear that the effort to quash the expansion of the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program was far from over.

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The House Always Wins

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I’m not a gambler, but I do know that Sin City isn’t prospering because those who visit its casinos win more than they lose. Rather, the casinos of Las Vegas and those all around the world, prosper because in the end, the house always wins.

That truism comes to mind when I think about our Arizona Legislature and their non-stop assault on the state’s public education system. Yes, it is sad that on the day Save Our Schools Arizona turned in over 111,000 petition signatures for a voucher expansion veto referendum to our Secretary of State, I’m thinking about how the battle has just begun. Not only that, but I’m worrying the battle is likely to not end in the people’s favor because just like the casinos, the game is rigged against us.

Senator Debbie Lesko, the sponsor of SB 1431, (full expansion of vouchers) is no doubt already planning repeal of the law should the referendum actually qualify for the ballot. Why would she do that? Well, for one, because when Arizonans are given the opportunity to vote on public education, they usually support it. For another, if the repeal of the voucher expansion actually gets on the ballot in November 2018, she and her GOP colleagues know that the issue will bring public education supporting voters out to the polls. We know which party the majority of those voters are likely to come from, right? Continue reading

SOS Arizona Collects 100,000+ Signatures to Stop Voucher Law

A plan by Gov. Ducey and the AZ Legislature to undermine public schools with a voucher program will be put on hold, thanks to Save Our Schools Arizona.

Thousands of parents and other volunteers collected more than 100,000 signatures to halt the law, which puts taxpayer money into private and religious schools.

According to AZCentral.com:

That’s enough to put the law on hold while the secretary of state determines whether the group has the 75,321 valid signatures needed to force a public vote on the law in November 2018.

The signature-vetting process will take nearly two months.

“Based on the committee’s forecast of how many signatures it has turned into the secretary of state, that is normally going to be sufficient to suspend the operation of the law,” says state Elections Director Eric Spencer.

The fate of the voucher law may now go before voters in a referendum that can take place in November.

SOS Arizona correctly argues that taxpayer funds should pay for public district schools, and not fund scholarships for wealthier people who can afford private schools.

“The power of the people is stronger than money,” said Melinda Iyer, a member of Save Our Schools. “Education is the great equalizer. It’s the bootstraps that people pull themselves up by.”

Volunteers braved the blazing Arizona summer to collect signatures for months, and in recent days vetted signatures to be sure they met the new “strict compliance” standard for public initiatives.

“It was the right issue, and the right time, and now here we are making history together. Watch the news Tuesday night to learn our final count!” SOS Arizona said in an email. “Whether you filled out 1 petition or 160, whether you donated $5 or $500, you can rest easy today knowing that your work–this summer and in the year to come–will preserve the future of public education in our state.”

Yeah, Let’s Focus on Our Students!

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

In a recent Scientific American article, a U.S. Department of Education spokesperson for Betsy DeVos said “The secretary believes that when we put the focus on students, and not buildings or artificially constructed boundaries, we will be on the right path to ensuring every child has access to the education that fits their unique needs.” As good as that sounds, it is total bullshit.

Here’s the deal. As much as its proponents try to tell us otherwise, school choice does NOT put the focus on students, because the “choice” is largely that of the commercial school, not the student. We know for example that private schools have total control over what students they accept, irrespective of the students’ funding sources (taxpayer-funded vouchers included.) Charter schools are by law required to accept all, but we also know they enroll much lower percentages of special needs students, those of color, and those in poverty.

As for the secretary’s belief that we should put the “focus on students, and not buildings or artificially constructed boundaries,” puhleeeeeeeaaasssee! This is just a thinly veiled swipe at community district schools. In Arizona, over 80% of our students attend these district schools where facility maintenance and repair is severely underfunded and there are no “artificially constructed boundaries” since we’ve had open enrollment since 1994. Continue reading

Voters Get Clear-Cut Choices of Candidates for Ward 3 of Tucson City Council

Tucson voters in northernmost Ward 3 have clear-cut choices among the three Democratic candidates running for the city council, as they spoke to Democratic precinct captains in the sprawling Ward.

Voters will select one in the primary on August 29. The winner will run against an “independent” in the general election on November 7. Some 88,700 people (36% Hispanic) live in the Ward, which sprawls from River Road on the north, to Swan on the east, to I-29 on the west, and Drachman on the south. Click here to see a map.

The Intellectual: Paul Durham

Paul Durham

Paul Durham

Attorney, MBA in finance.

Raised $41,000 in contributions and matching funds.

Key issues: run Tucson 100% on solar power, attract jobs that pay well, build community.

Lived in Tucson since 2004.

Voted for Hillary.

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