Living in La-La Land?

Linda Oyon

Cross-posted from

Not one to give up on any ALEC-concocted or promoted government shrinking effort, AZ Senator Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, managed to gain traction this week on her latest version of this year’s voucher expansion. The zombie voucher expansion effort was resurrected when it became apparent the House couldn’t pass its original version to make every AZ student eligible. HB 2482 stalled due to public outcry over lawmakers trying to settle the inflation funding lawsuit with a reduced payment via Prop. 123, while siphoning even more away from public schools with the proposed total expansion of vouchers.

“To the rescue”, rides Senator Lesko, the Arizona ALEC Chair, with her bill, SB-1279. Introduced as a “strike-everything” bill, it was fast-tracked for consideration and met the Appropriations versus the Education Committee to no doubt provide some cover for the contentious bill. Instead of full expansion, Lesko’s bill settles for expansion to free- or reduced lunch program eligibility which for a family of four translates to an annual income of no more than $44,863. The bill passed on an 8-5 vote.

In that the voucher is only worth $5,400 and the average cost of private school tuition is Arizona is about $10,000, it is highly unlikely that those lower on the socio-economic scale will be lining up anytime soon to ditch their district schools. Rather, Lesko’s bill serves to again chip away at the foundation of our public school system and yes, the very core of our democracy.

To my point, Representative Rick Gray, R-Sun City, was quoted by Howard Fischer as saying that it is wrong to look at how the legislation will affect public schools. “ it really comes down to that child, and what’s best for that child” he said. What a crock of BS! Gray is saying that state legislation shouldn’t be concerned with how it affects the largest portion of the state budget and the 900,000 district school students it provides for? That’s like a U.S. Congressman saying that federal legislation regarding the military shouldn’t be concerned with its affect on national defense, but rather on the individual soldier. The soldier might appreciate the consideration, but the misplaced focus would no doubt weaken our ability to defend our Nation.

These efforts aren’t about the individual child, or even children in general. What they are about is shrinking the government and reducing the ability of the people to participate in their democracy. Our Tea-publican Legislature won’t be happy until they have total control over every aspect of an extremely limited government which is all about keeping them in power and making their wealthy supporters even more wealthy. That’s the real bottom line and anyone who believes otherwise is living in La-La Land.


Previous articleWill Sanders Supporters Stay Home in November? Yes. Will it Be Sour Grapes? No.
Next article“The mother only contributes the egg and the incubator”
Linda Lyon retired as a Colonel (Thomas) from the U.S. Air Force in 2007 at Andrews AFB, Maryland where she served as the Mission Support Group Commander (city manager) for a 20,000 person community with 2,000 people under her command. After retirement from the Air Force, she managed a $28 million logistical service contract at the Department of Energy and served as Deputy Program Manager for the $30 million SBInet contract at L-3 Communications. Since moving to Tucson in 2008, she (and her wife Holly) created and ran four annual Wingspan charity golf tournaments bringing in almost $65,000, and she served as the organization’s Director for 14 months. She also served in key positions for five AZ legislative races. Linda is in her second term as a Governing Board member for the Oracle School District, was named Advocate of the Year for 2013 by the Arizona School Board Association and in 2018, served as the Association's President. She'll be the past president in 2019 and will also be serving as the Federal Legislative Chair for the Arizona PTA.


  1. Let’s hit the data from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress one more time:

    The math academic gains for Arizona Black eight graders ranked number one in the nation which moved Arizona Black students to number one in the nation in math achievement. This is not a typo, Arizona African Americans outscored Massachusetts African Americans in 8th grade math.

    The reading academic gains for Arizona Black eighth graders ranked 17th which resulted in Arizona eight grade Blacks ranking 14th in reading scores.

    The math academic gains for Hispanics eight graders ranked 5th in the nation resulting in a ranking of 11th for math scores.

    The reading gains for Hispanics ranked 14th for a ranking of 29th in reading scores.

    The math gains for Arizona whites ranked 1st in the nation for a ranking of 6th in math scores.

    The reading gains for whites ranked 3rd in the nation for a ranking of 7th in the nation in achievement scores.

    The combined math and reading gains from Arizona 2011 fourth grade to 2015 8th grade were the highest in the nation. (2015 8th graders would have been in 4th grade in 2011). Perhaps the best data you can pull from raw NAEP data. Indicating that Arizona might have the best schools in the nation.

    From 1994, when Arizona started charter schools, to 2012, Arizona’s juvenile violent crime index fell from 520 in 1994, 17 points above the national average to 149 in 2012, 35 points below the national average despite an incredibly more challenging demographic in our schools. More violent crimes fell even more. Murders fell from 70 to 7. Check it, that is not a typo. The data has likely improved even more since 2012.

    Empowerment savings account will be even more powerful than charter schools because they will be free of all the bureaucracy and toxic culture of district education. We will finally be able to answer perhaps the ultimate question: “how fast can the human brain learn?” Our students of color and poverty are getting less than 5% of their brain potential out of the classic classroom; lecture, homework, exams, grades.

    The Gallup corporation has spent millions measuring the emotions and attitudes of our students. By the end of 8th grade, 30% of students (over 16 million students nationwide) have completely disconnected from school. These students don’t go to school each day, they go to prison. 14 of these 30 go in each day with the mission of destroying the teacher.

    You all are fighting to preserve this system and prevent the rescue of these children. You do no one a favor, not teachers, not public education and especially not these students. Our public schools have proven that they can match the best of charter schools toe to toe, mano a mano and will continue to improve under the pressure. In fact the unrelenting pressure is critical for them to improve. With twice the money per student, they will be able to easily keep up with private schools too.

    • Gotta hand it to you John, you are dogmatic. Problem is, you spout a bunch of disconnected data that ultimately doesn’t make any sense. Maybe that’s the point, just throw out a bunch of numbers and claims and hope no one follows up on it. Here’s what I’m sure about:
      1. AZ absolutely does not have the best schools in the nation. Multiple sources show us at somewhere between 46th & 49th in the Nation.
      2. Juvenile violent crime has fallen across the Nation and is now dropped to a 30-year low.
      3. Give me a freakin’ break on your assertion about vouchers (ESAs). We know that they are primarily serving wealthier students (not normally children of color) who can afford the private school without siphoning taxpayer dollars away from district schools and we don’t really have data about how the private schools are doing because they don’t report it. One thing ESAs are really good at is robbing district schools and their students of taxpayer dollars with no accountability or transparency on the program’s efficacy.
      4. Yes, there is a pipeline to prison, but it starts with poverty, not schools. Let’s please be sure we draw the correct correlations!
      5. Can’t make any sense of your last paragraph, it seems to be all over the place. What we pro-public education advocates are fighting for is not “to preserve the system”, but to ensure equity of opportunity for all children, not just those who can avail themselves of pricier options. Unrelenting pressure is not the key to improvement! What is key to improvement is providing stability for requirements, funding, and education professionals. The constant turmoil created by ever-changing rules and laws only serves to create chaos. Don’t even know what you are referring to regarding the “with twice the money per student”, unless you are pointing to the fact that in AZ, private schools cost an average of twice the current ESA voucher amount?

      I’m surprised you continue to post comments on this blog. Our readers are just too smart to buy what you are selling.

  2. Screw ’em Linda. I hope we can see a change this election year. People need to get out and vote. They need to start giving a damn.

  3. This Arizona legislature should be in session for two weeks a year. They should have one week of public hearings around the State on the budget, and one week working in the budget and then passing it. Then adjourn. All other time is only spent on nonsense and self serving stupidity ( yes that includes Sonny Borrelli carrying the water for The billboard industry, Cathi Herrod’s never ending crusade to fund reproduction police, Lesko’s slavery to ALEC, and Jay Lawrence’s crusade for the hair color industry). Please just go home already before the State is damaged beyond repair.

Comments are closed.