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Save Our Schools Arizona
Weekly Education Report

56th Legislature, 1st General Session
Volume 5, Issue 27 • Week of July 10, 2023

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ESA Vouchers “Barrel AZ Towards Bankruptcy”

This week brought breaking news around Arizona’s ESA voucher crisis— and as usual, it’s worse than we thought.  This week, Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic wrote two scathing reports of the ESA voucher program, which former Governor Ducey universally expanded to all students last year despite outright voter rejection in 2018. According to her first report, the budgetary squeeze of Ducey’s universal ESA vouchers and his ruinous flat tax (which is just now being fully phased in) is spelling economic disaster for our state. 
  • Supt. Horne’s Arizona Department of Education (ADE) projects the ESA voucher program will cost Arizona taxpayers $900 million next year — despite the fact that the legislature only budgeted for around $500 million for vouchers in next year’s budget.
  • State revenues are declining rapidly (down 44% in May compared with a year ago) due to Ducey’s flat tax, which offers massive tax cuts to the wealthy while gutting the state’s coffers of desperately needed funds for the services that Arizonans depend on (including public schools, but also roads, public safety, health care, transportation and more).
  • The Republican majority at the legislature insisted on pork-barrel spending in this year’s budget that used up the entirety of our state’s $2.5B surplus – meaning there are no additional funds to cover these costs next year. 
The next day, Pitzl released another hard-hitting examination of ESA voucher costs, definitively proving that ESA vouchers are in fact not saving the state any money – despite ridiculous claims by the special interests pushing these vouchers on our state.
  • Universal ESA vouchers cost around $500 more than the average state per-student expenditure when students leave district public schools — and around $7,000 more if the student was already attending a private school or homeschool (which the ADE touts as 75% of voucher recipients).
  • As SOSAZ recently reported, the average Arizona household pays approximately $1,100 into the state general fund for K-12 education expenses. When a family takes $7,000 in voucher funding (per child!), they are stripping massive funds from local public schools. And these are dollars that do not, in fact, “belong to” this taxpayer. 
As Pitzl stated, “Lawmakers have repeatedly noted they are obligated by the Constitution to fund [public] education. But if there isn’t enough money to do that and keep the rest of the state government running, hard choices could lay ahead.” The Arizona Constitution is very clear on what the legislature must provide: a public school system, not school vouchers. Draining money from public schools to fund school vouchers is a clear dereliction of the legislature’s constitutional duty. 

“The legislature shall enact such laws as shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of a general and uniform public school system, which system shall include:

  1. Kindergarten schools.
  2. Common schools.
  3. High schools.
  4. Normal schools.
  5. Industrial schools.”

Arizona Constitution, Article 11 Section 1

All told, Arizona is headed for economic disaster. 2024 is an election year – and Arizona voters must seize the urgent opportunity to elect a new legislature that will operate within its means, serve the people instead of the rich ruling class, and prioritize and fund public education. 

Around the Horne

ICYMI: Superintendent Horne is once again attacking teachers and schools, this time threatening to defund the dual language instruction models that serve English Language Learners. This outrageous decision limits the educational opportunities  of Arizona’s students and ignores the benefits of bilingualism. Please add your voice to this letter from Stand for Children that urges the Arizona State Board of Education to reinstate the 50-50 dual language model by July 19 (when many Arizona schools reopen their doors).

Your voice matters. A simple phone call or email to your lawmaker asking them to prioritize funding for schools and responsible policies for education goes a long way. In order for Arizona to move forward and thrive, these critical discussions need to take place. Find your legislative district here. Email and phone information for your representatives is here and your senator is here.

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Upcoming Events!

Upcoming RAS

Statewide Rural Action Summits – Mark Your Calendars!

Navajo Nation – July 22 – Register here!

Sierra Vista – August 26 – Register here!

Yuma – November 4

Speaking of Schools Event

Speaking of Schools: Advocating for Public Schools in Rural America

Monday, July 17 at 5:00 pm

Register here!


Voter Registration Training

Thursday, July 6 at 6:00 pm

Register here!


Education Advocacy Mini Sessions

Mondays at 6:30pm – Register here!

July 10 – Welcome to Team SOSAZ!

July 24 – Back to School Advocacy

Public School Proud!

Amazing things happen in Arizona’s public schools every single day. Let’s take some time over the summer to highlight stories from our community schools that make us #PublicSchoolProud! 

Peoria Elementary School partnered with Zuri’s Circle and work on their community garden with special guests from the Seattle Mariners!

In Flagstaff, KinderCamp students “Bridged Over” to kindergarten!

Students in Scottsdale felt the rhythm playing the steel drums with the Musical Instrument Museum!

On the last day of Yuma School District’s STEMKAMP, students got to show their families all of the fun projects and cool science they had learned throughout the week.

Voucher Watch

In Pennsylvania, Governor Shapiro has vowed to exercise his line-item veto on a school voucher plan featured in this year’s budget. The plan, crafted by Senate Republicans as part of the larger budget package, was fiercely opposed by House Democrats and other public school advocates. The budget as passed includes small wins for public education, including $567 million in new spending and funding for free school breakfast. 

In a bizarre twist, the PA House Republican Freedom Caucus even published a meme casting the House Democrats as the heroic Captain Miller facing down against a Nazi tank, meant to represent the school choice movement 🤦🏻‍♀️ Thank you to the Pennsylvania House Democrats for holding the line to protect Pennsylvania public schools, students, and teachers!

Get Your SOSAZ Merch

AZ Loves Public Schools Car Magnets & Yard Signs!

Be the first to order HERE!

Note: Yard signs are currently available only in Maricopa, Pima, and Yavapai Counties where our field team can personally deliver.  Check back for more counties soon!

Order AZ Loves Public Schools Tees, Tanks & Sweatshirts on AMAZON!

Be the first to order HERE!

Don’t forget your red #PublicSchoolProud shirt – order HERE. While we get ready to change suppliers, we’re offering 2 shirts for your donation of $30, or one for an $18 donation. Wear Public School Proud gear to show your dedication to well-funded public education in Arizona!

Join Team SOSAZ!

Sign up for a Community Action Team: East Valley, West Valley & North Phoenix, Scottsdale & Paradise Valley, Central & South Phoenix, Northern Arizona, and Southern Arizona! Your local coordinators will help you with using Request to Speak and contacting your lawmakers.

Request an SOSAZ Education Roadshow presentation HERE

Sign up to automatically receive the SOSAZ Legislative Weekly Report HERE

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