Category Archives: Education

Proposition 305: Save Our Schools Arizona referendum of school ‘vouchers on steroids’ qualifies for the 2018 ballot

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Voucher expansion referendum makes ballot:

With validation results in from Maricopa County, “it’s a mathematical guarantee” that the referendum on school voucher expansion in Arizona will make it to the 2018 ballot, Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a tweet Tuesday.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office has validated 86.6 percent of a sample of signatures collected by Save Our Schools Arizona, putting the school voucher referendum on track to reach the 2018 ballot.

The majority of the roughly 108,000 signatures deemed valid by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office were gathered in Maricopa County, and now, SOS Arizona’s statewide validation average sits at about 87 percent overall.

That gives SOS Arizona a comfortable margin of error; with an 86 percent validation rate, the referendum would have nearly 93,000 valid signatures, about 18,000 more than it needs to make it to the ballot.

Elections Director Eric Spencer reiterated what Reagan announced via social media, adding that barring the pending legal challenges SOS Arizona still faces, the outlook for the referendum is “sunny.” He anticipated a notice of certification would be sent to the governor’s office on Sept. 11, the deadline for the remaining three counties to report results.

But if those counties were to report tomorrow, Spencer said, the Secretary of State’s Office is ready to certify what will be billed as Proposition 305 on the 2018 general election ballot.

Results from Cochise, Yavapai and Yuma counties are still pending.

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Trump Ends DACA: Will Congress Save Dreamers?

Undocubus

Undocumented workers and students protested at the DNC in 2012. (That’s me in the turquoise dress before the cops told me to move.)

Our country’s most ill-prepared president just lobbed one of our country’s stickiest problems into the court of the country’s least effective Congress, ever. What could go wrong? The dreams of nearly one million young people.

On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General and long-time anti-immigration advocate Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s decision to rescind President Obama’s executive order that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Implemented five years ago, DACA was supposed to be a stop-gap measure to shield children and young adults, who were brought to the US illegally as minors by their parents. The plan was that Congress would move on immigration reform while DACA protected these young people from immediate deportation.

Roughly 800,000 young adults under DACA could face deportation if Congress fails to act within the next six months. The crux of the problem is that DACA was created because Congress shirked its duty on meaningful immigration reform. For 16 years, Congress has failed to pass any immigration reform– let alone comprehensive reform, which is sorely needed. Even the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) — which outlined a path to citizenship for Dreamers– has died a bipartisan death in Congress multiple times, since it was originally proposed in 2001.

Will Congress have the guts to save the Dreamers now?

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Take No Prisoners

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

During the last legislative session in Arizona, lawmakers approved a full expansion of vouchers to all 1.1 million Arizona students against very vocal opposition. In response, Save Our Schools Arizona conducted a grassroots petition drive with over 2,500 volunteers collecting over 111K signatures to get the issue on next year’s ballot.

To fight back, privatization proponents have recently ramped up their “take no prisoners” war on public education in Arizona with attacks on Arizona’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, Christine Marsh. According to The Arizona Republic, the American Federation for Children (AFC), (“dark money” group previously led by Betsy Devos), recently “unleashed robocalls” in the Phoenix area targeting Marsh. In a related effort, a Republican state legislator, Rep. David Livingston, R-Glendale, also filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Isela Blanc, D-Tempe, accusing her of disorderly conduct.

What is the egregious violation these women are accused of? According to voucher proponents, (during the drive to gain petition signatures for an anti-voucher referendum), both circulated petitions without a box at the top of the petition checked. The box, according to state law, is required to be checked prior to petitions being circulated, to reflect whether the circulator is a volunteer or paid petition gatherer. In Livingston’s complaint and in AFC’s robocall, Blanc and Marsh respectively, are accused of “falsifying petition sheets” by marking the boxes after the signatures were collected. Continue reading

Our lawless TeaPublican legislature seeks to avoid accountabiity for failing to adequately fund the capital needs of school districts

I posted about the latest school funding lawsuit against our lawless TeaPublican legislature and governor back in April. The other show drops: Lawsuit against our lawless Tea-Publican legislature for unconstitutionally underfunding capital needs of school districts.

This case is back in the news this week. Our lawless TeaPublican legislature and governor are asking the court to dismiss this lawsuit, arguing that the plaintiffs have no standing to sue to hold them accountable for their unconstitutional underfunding of the capital needs of Arizona school districts.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports State asks judge to dismiss legal challenge to school finance scheme:

Saying challengers have no right to sue, lawyers for the state want a judge to throw out a challenge to the state’s school funding scheme.

In legal papers filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, attorney Brett Johnson does not directly address the contention by education officials, taxpayers and others that the lack of cash from the governor and Legislature has left schools with hundreds of millions of dollars of unmet construction, maintenance and equipment needs.

Instead, Johnson is telling Judge Connie Contes she has no authority to decide if the state is providing enough money. He said whatever they decide to provide in cash is a “political question” beyond the powers of the courts.

“Whether and how much money can be paid out of the state treasury is clearly committed by our constitution to those acting in a legislative capacity,” he wrote.

This “political question” doctrine defense is complete bullshit. The present lawsuit arises out of a prior lawsuit, and alleges that the state of Arizona is in violation of its previous settlement agreement in the long-running school capital funding case of Roosevelt Elem. School Dist. No. 66  v. Bishop (No. CV-93-0168 1994), in which the Arizona Supreme Court held that the statutory financing scheme for public education violated the Arizona Constitution, Article XI, § 1.

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‘Kochtopus’ funded lawsuit to challenge school ‘vouchers on steroids’ referendum

Last week the Save Our Schools referendum for school “vouchers on steroids” bill, SB 1431, survived its first hurdle with the Secretary of State’s office. Referendum on school voucher survives first hurdle:

The referendum to kill expansion of Arizona’s school voucher program survived its first hurdle despite efforts of the lawyers who don’t want it on the ballot.

State Elections Director Eric Spencer concluded there are more than enough signatures on petitions calling for a 2018 vote, even after he disqualified some of them. That sets the stage for county recorders to do their own verification.

Spencer rejected efforts by attorneys of pro-voucher supporters to strike even more names from the more than 110,000 submitted to call for the referendum on the new law.

* * *

In doing the initial screening, Spencer’s office discarded 216 petition sheets because the required sworn affidavit of the circulator was unsigned or otherwise incomplete. Others were disqualified over problems like not having the required notary seal or the failure to have attached a copy of the measure being referred.

And more than 1,900 individual signatures were disqualified for things like missing information.

But Spencer said some of the complaints by those who want an expanded voucher program have no basis.

For example, attorney Kory Langhofer argued that Spencer should not count anyone whose signature looks like their printed name. Langhofer, who represents Americans For Prosperity, a group funded by the Koch Brothers [and the American Federation for Children] who support vouchers, argued that a signature must be significantly distinguishable from a printed name to be considered a true “signature.”

Spencer rejected that argument.

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Huppenthal / Horne Ban on Mexican American Studies Held Unconstitutional; Thucky’s Blog Comments Cited Extensively by Court

Three years ago, when my colleagues here at BfAZ and I exposed then Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal as a closet racist, I knew we had done the right thing. But I didn’t know how right it would prove to be.

Huppenthal, or Thucky as we know him here, along with his predecessor, Tom Horne, had closed down the Mexican American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District. I don’t know much about that controversy, but I know this: If a student of any national heritage wants to learn more about that heritage, it takes a special kind of creep to deny her the opportunity to do so.

Students, with the assistance of David Morales, proprietor of the Three Sonorans blog and friend of this blog, other community leaders, and some very capable attorneys, challenged the legislation promoted and enforced by Horne and Huppenthal. A critical issue, it turned out, was whether Horne and Thucky were motivated by racial animus either in the enactment or the enforcement of the statute banning the MAS program. This may shock a few of you, but ole Thuckenthal didn’t acquit himself well on the witness stand. Imagine that? And those comments he posted at this site and others? Yeah, those didn’t play very well either. Here are the leading paragraphs in each of the first three sections of Judge Tashima’s opinion: Continue reading