Tag Archives: vouchers

Citizen Initiatives filed – now comes the challenges to keep them off the ballot

Thursday was the filing deadline for citizens initiatives. Several hot-button initiatives were filed. If they survive signature verification and the inevitable lawsuits from well-funded special interest opponents, this year’s fall campaign will be dominated by a flood of “dark money” negative advertisements from corporate special interests and the Chambers of Commerce. Their privileged plutocrat attitude is that “We own this state! Who are the unwashed masses to tell us what we can do? You will obey!

The AP reports, Arizona ballot initiatives focus on energy, school funding:

Thursday was the deadline for proposed ballot initiatives to file the hundreds of thousands signatures necessary to put a question on the ballot. Three groups of organizers trucked boxes full of petitions to the state Capitol.

The signatures still have to processed and verified. The Arizona Secretary of State’s office has 20 days to complete petition processing. Then counties have 15 days to verify signatures, followed by another three days for the Secretary of State to determine if the initiative qualifies.

Followed by the inevitable lawsuits from well-funded special interest opponents.

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School Choice in Arizona talk on June 9

“School Choice in Arizona: Privatization, Charter Schools, and Vouchers”
Saturday, June 9, 2018 (11:00AM – 12:30PM)
Joel D Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Avenue

“Join us for a FRANK Talk about school choice.

Arizona is one of the nation’s most “choice friendly” states regarding educational opportunities at the K-12 level.School choice is a term for K–12 public education options in the U.S. describing a wide array of programs offering students and their families alternatives to public schools, that students are usually assigned to based on where their family lives.

The legislature approved Arizona’s charter school law in 1994 and currently Arizona has over 540 charter schools with more than 180,000 students. Since then the expansion of charter schools and vouchers (often called educational savings accounts) is not without controversy. Does school choice improve school quality? Does school choice increase educational opportunity for all students? Has school choice fostered the privatization of education in the U.S.? Join us for a FRANK talk about the policy and practical implications of school choice.

This community conversation is facilitated by Dr. Angelina Castagno, Northern Arizona University, Educational Foundations.

Additional reading:

FRANK Talks are sponsored by Arizona Humanities.

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