How far would $125 to $175 thousand go in a typical Arizona traditional or charter public school district?
Well, it could pay for about three or four full-time school teachers.
It could pay for three full-time counselors. Remember close to 300 schools just submitted approximately $100 million in grant applications to the Department of Education for new counselor needs when only $20 million is available.
It could pay for two School Principals.
It could pay for several teacher assistants.
In a clear example of government waste to satisfy fringe Republican reactionary interests, the Republican-led Joint Legislative Audit Committee, persuaded by the Donna Trump of the Arizona State Legislature Kelly Townsend, has decided to spend the money on an audit of the Department of Education’s Empowerment Scholarship Program.
Why is this a waste of people’s money?
Because Ms. Townsend’s public justification for the audit to ascertain how the Department of Education is spending the $1.4 million dollars allocated (below what the law requires) by the legislature is laughable.
Where was this concern when Republican Diane Douglas was Superintendent, where the Auditor General, according to AZ Central, found questionable spending in the E.S.A. program under her tenure in 2016?
This is not the first time a Republican Legislator has attacked the Democratic Superintendent for her handling of the E.S.A. program?
In July, Legislative District 11 Representative Mark Finchem attempted to enlist the Attorney General to investigate the waiting times at the E.S.A. program?
What could be the real motives for Townsend and her fringe buddies?
Could it be as AZ Central Columnist Laurie Roberts pointed out that Townsend admitted she was concerned with current Superintendent Kathy Hoffman’s forensic audit of the department after an audit from last year uncovered $700,000 in questionable spending on the E.S.A. debit card expenses? How many small-government conservative hypocrites spent taxpayer money on noneducation needs?
Could it be because Townsend and her colleagues on the far right are catering to the whims of extreme conservative organizations like the American Federation of Children, a group that has been caught for helping send Arizona children, with monies from the E.S.A. program, to a private Christian school in New Mexico, who oppose what Hoffman represents at the Department of Education. This group is also the entity that motivated Finchem to raise his unfounded concerns in July?
Even Republicans like Senator John Allen publicly wondered about the wisdom of this move, saying that just having a committee hearing would have accomplished the task this $125 to $175,000 audit would have performed over a quicker period of time (the audit will not be completed until April 2020.) and cost only a fraction of the audit.
What is very bizarre about all of this from the right is the answer to how to solve the difficulties of the E.S.A. program is to do what Superintendents Douglas and Hoffman both wanted for years: the full funding and staffing of the E.S.A. division with appropriate oversight.
By fully funding the E.S.A. staff at the Department of Education, wait times for processing E.S.A. scholarship applications would be sharply reduced. Phone calls would be returned at a faster pace. Scholarship decisions would be reached quicker. Out of state enrollments like what happened at the border with New Mexico would be uncovered and prevented rather than falling through the cracks.
Instead of launching a witchhunt into the E.S.A. division and wasting government resources, just fully fund what the Department of Education needs so they can serve families and do what is best for the kids.
This is what this should be all about.
Featured Image from Vox