School closures. This week, Paradise Valley Unified School District declared it will likely be forced to shutter schools, due in large part to the impacts of unchecked universal ESA vouchers. We predict this will be the first of many such announcements. And while the state collectively gasped over the ADE’s $900 million voucher price tag announcement last week, the real issue here is what these school closures mean for our kids and communities.
Human cost of vouchers. Local school closures are catastrophic for kids, adults, and the entire community. Kids get bussed to various other schools, separated from their friends, familiar teachers and support networks. Teachers, principals and staff lose their jobs. School pride — mascots, T-shirts, trophies and memorabilia — gets boxed away. Parents are forced to adapt, drive further, and develop new relationships with educators, parent groups and more. Pathways to clubs, sports, arts and college are broken or made harder. The local community loses a lot of what held it together. The human cost is incalculable, swift and cruel. Vouchers hurt.
NEW! Famed Arizona cartoonist David Fitzsimmons came out of retirement just to brush up this evergreen cartoon for SOSAZ!
Together we can turn the tide. We need you to talk to your friends & neighbors about these real impacts.
Get ready to knock doors, make calls, and more to elect a new Legislature that will finally start turning this mess around.
Together, in 2024 we WILL elect a pro-public education legislature!
As the Legislature turns. In other news, our state lawmakers came in to work for a whopping two days (Monday & Tuesday), then recessed again, this time until July 31. We really want to try out the “2 days a month” working model (but we’ve gotta stay & fight for public education).
In their short time, lawmakers passed a laundry list of culture-war bills along party lines, including:
Thank goodness for Hobbs! Gov. Hobbs vetoed HB2786 on Friday, along with “anti-drag” bill SB1026, which could have caused public schools to lose state funds for 3 years if they held the “wrong” school plays or pep rallies. We expect her to veto the above bills before the mandated deadline for action, which is this Wednesday.
Small victories! Last week, lawmakers refused to pass two harmful tax cut bills. SB1577, forcibly choking off revenues should Arizona ever see another surplus, and SB1559, a tax break for corporations, both failed their House floor votes on Monday. Rep. Matt Gress (R-4) highlighted the harm these policies do to Arizona’s general fund by acknowledging that the state would not have enough money to fund its rapidly snowballing ESA voucher program if lawmakers continue to cut revenues.
Killing democracy one ballot referral at a time. Unfortunately, Republican lawmakers forced through SCR1015, a ballot referral that avoids Hobbs’ veto stamp and will go directly to the ballot. The proposition will ask voters to effectively destroy Arizona’s initiative and referendum process by requiring ballot measures to collect signatures from a percentage of voters in each of Arizona’s 30 legislative districts: 5% for referendum, 10% for initiatives, and 15% for a constitutional amendment. This anti-democracy measure would give any single district veto powers over the rest of the state and would make citizen initiatives, including future education funding proposals, nearly impossible in Arizona. The proposal will appear on our November 2024 ballot, and SOSAZ will be working to achieve a “NO” vote.
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.
Paradise Valley Unified School District is declaring it will likely be forced to shutter schools, due in large part to the impacts of unchecked universal ESA vouchers. We sadly predict this will be the first of many such announcements.
This week, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled to allow Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ voucher program to go into effect.
More questions are being raised nationally around what taxpayer-funded voucher schools and homeschools can teach. Read this in-depth article to find out more about racist, sexist, homophobic and creationist curriculum being funded through your tax dollars: Voucher Schools Championed By Betsy DeVos Can Teach Whatever They Want. Turns Out They Teach Lies.
Stay tuned for updates from the JLBC on ESA voucher budgeting and from the Attorney General Kris Mayes’ investigation into fraud and abuse of the ESA voucher program.
Attacks on Teachers & Curriculum:
Attacks on Schools, School Boards, Districts:
Resources & Accountability:
Frustrated by what you see here? Use our one-click email tool to tell lawmakers you want Arizona to focus on real education needs, not voucher grifts: bit.ly/prioritizepubliced
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