Tag Archives: vouchers

Budget passed by the legislature, signed by the governor

The #RedforEd protestors will return to work now. They only partially succeeded on one of their demands, a 20 percent pay increase for teachers, but that is all they are going to get out of this Tea-Publican legislature and governor.

The Arizona Republic reports, Arizona Legislature passes state budget, including #RedForEd teacher pay-raise plan (note to the copy editor, this is NOT the “#RedForEd teacher pay-raise plan,” it is the GOP leadership’s plan):

The Arizona Legislature passed a state budget early Thursday that included nearly $273 million aimed at giving teachers pay raises. It came after nearly 13 hours of debate in the House and Senate.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill dealing with education, which had the teacher pay raise plan as part of it, at about 6:10 a.m. Thursday, according to a post on his Twitter feed.

Passage of the pay raises was called the triggering event that organizers said would end the statewide teacher walkout, the largest in recent U.S. history.

The galleries in both chambers remained crowded overnight Wednesday with teachers and education advocates wearing the red shirts indicative of the #RedForEd movement.

The Senate passed all the budget bills just after 5:30 a.m., and the House followed suit more than three hours later.

For the educators, watching the votes wasn’t about a victory. Most of the lawmakers they cheered through the hearings and debates voted against the budget bills.

All but one of the Republicans they jeered voted for it. The education portion of the budget bill had four Democratic votes for it in the Senate; in the House, all Democrats voted against it.

More so, for the educators it was about bearing witness, feeling engaged in a process they felt they had spurred on by their threat to walk off the job, followed by the unprecedented action of actually doing so.

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AZ Supreme Court sends Prop. 305 to the ballot (unless the AZ Lege sabotages it)

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled Voters can decide whether to keep school-voucher expansion:

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that voters get to have a say on Proposition 305, a ballot initiative that asks if they want to keep or do away with an expansion of the state’s school voucher-style program.

The Empowerment Scholarship Account program currently allows only certain students to apply for the program, including special-needs students and those from poor-performing schools. The program gives parents public money and allows them to spend it on private school tuition, educational materials and therapies.

Last year, Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican lawmakers narrowly passed legislation (the “vouchers on steroids” bill) to expand eligibility to all 1.1 million public students but capping the program at about 30,000.

A mostly grassroots group of parents and public-education advocates called Save Our Schools Arizona collected enough signatures to refer the expansion to the November 2018 ballot.

But supporters of the expansion — the “Kochtopus” and their Tea-Publican lackeys in the legislature — waged a legal battle to try to keep the initiative off the November ballot.

The decision from the high court deals a final court blow to those supporters and upholds a lower court decision.

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Yet Another Scheme to Raid School Funding

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

An article titled, “Proposed GI Bill Model For K–12 Schools Would Impact Arizona Education Funding” by Claire Caufield on KZJJ.org recently caught my attention. Ah…coming to a state near us I thought, the latest school privatization effort to be shoved down our throats. Evidently, the conservative Heritage Foundation has written policy that would make all children of active-duty military members eligible to receive education savings accounts (ESAs) to attend private schools. These ESA would provide “from $2,500 to $4,500 annually to help parents send their child to a private or online school or to pay for tutoring and special education services.”

The idea of ESAs for military children is not new, we already have that in Arizona. What is new, is that the proposal calls for the funding to come from Impact Aid, a fund established by Congress in 1950 to assist districts with the cost of educating children who live on federal lands, and therefore don’t pay local taxes that support the districts. “Today, Impact Aid is disbursed to schools connected to tribal lands, military bases, low-rent housing and other federal properties.”

“Because of the state’s high number of students on tribal lands, Arizona districts received $169 million last year in Impact Aid, the highest total in the country. Over $11 million was for children of military and uniformed services families, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.” Continue reading

Happy (sort of) Anniversary

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

Five years ago today, I wrote and published my first-ever blog post. It was titled, “Don’t Believe the Pundits, Traditional Public Education Works.”

Since then, I’ve written over 230 posts which garnered over 16,300 views. I hope I’ve enlightened a few folks about the war against public education, and am grateful for all those who read my words and took time to comment. Our efforts are stronger when we stand together!

What I’m not grateful for, is the fact that nothing much has come out of the AZ Legislature in the last five years to make the situation better for our district schools.  I wrote then about how education tax credits siphon funding away from our district schools. The caps for corporate tax credits have grown from about $56.6 million in 2013 to $94 million in 2018, and the President of the AZ Senate, Steven Yarbrough (who has enriched himself through his School Tuition Organization or STO), is proposing legislative changes that will grow the program even more.

I also wrote about Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) or vouchers. I discussed how they redistribute state revenue and that most of the students receiving these vouchers, would have attended private schools without taxpayer help. That is still true today, but instead of 302 students accessing the program five years ago at a cost to the state of $5.2 million, there were 4,102 in 2017 at a cost of $37 million. Moreover, in 2017, more than 75 percent of the money pulled out of public schools for vouchers, came from districts with an A or B rating, not from schools that are failing. Continue reading

What IS glaringly obvious…

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com. Sources are referenced in original posting.

After I became an Arizona school board member and public education advocate, I was routinely asked, “doesn’t the Legislature understand what they are doing to our public schools?” I would respond with, “of course they do, it is all part of their plan.” That was five years ago and although we are still fighting the same battles, some things have changed.

Today, many more people understand that the privatization of America’s system of public education is actually the end game. The public is more “woke” than ever to the privatizers’ pursuit of profit and power via the $500B+ K-12 education market in the United States. Of course, the privatizers don’t refer to it that way. Rather, as reported in the Washington Post, they couch their war on public education as a benign attempt to improve the system. As Stacy Hock, a major Koch donor and co-founder of Texans for Educational Opportunity, said, “The lowest hanging fruit for policy change in the United States today is K-12, I think this is the area that is most glaringly obvious.” Continue reading

Public education funding is top priority in new legislative session: this is war

On Saturday, Thousands marched, calling on Ducey and Republican lawmakers to fully fund public schools:

Dawn Penich-Thacker, SOS Arizona spokeswoman, said the march was created for two reasons. The first, she said, was to celebrate public schools for doing what they can with the limited funding that state leaders have invested in education.

The second, she said, is to hold Ducey and lawmakers accountable, making them aware that their talking points on education funding fall short of resolving what has become a crisis in public education.

Earlier, Save Our Schools issued a plan to raise almost a billion dollars for public education without a sales tax increase. This good faith attempt to play on the Tea-Publican’s field also falls far short of the funding actually needed by our public schools.  Our former blogger David Safier breaks down the educators’ plan at the The Range in the Tucson Weekly. How to Raise a Billion Dollars For Schools Without Raising Sales Taxes.

These lobbying efforts fell on deaf ears from our Koch-bot governor and lawless Tea-Publican legislature who are hellbent on privatizing public education through school vouchers, the long-term goal of the “Kochtopus” (and a violation of the Arizona Constitution). Further, these ideological extremists are true believers in the false religion of faith-based supply side “trickle down” economics, the First Commandment of which is “Thou shalt never raise taxes (for corporations and plutocrats).”

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