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Save Our Schools Arizona
Weekly Education Report

56th Legislature, 1st General Session
Volume 5, Issue 25 • Week of June 26, 2023

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Don’t Florida Our Arizona

Don’t Florida Our Arizona Image

Elections have consequences. If it weren’t for Gov. Hobbs, Florida’s rampant and egregious attacks on LGBTQ+ youth, teacher gag laws and attacks on religious freedom in school would be happening in our state. The bills passed by Arizona’s extremist Republican majority are proof positive.  

While forward progress in Arizona may feel slim right now, we can thank every single person who helped with the 2022 election for the fact that we aren’t hurtling 200 years backward. 

Together we can move our state forward. We can build Gov. Hobbs the legislature she needs to fully fund and prioritize our public schools and to roll back universal ESA vouchers. But it’s going to take all of us talking to our friends & neighbors, knocking doors, making calls, and so much more! 2024 starts NOW.

For now, let’s look at the bright side and celebrate with a rundown of some of the most horrible K-12 bills Gov. Hobbs vetoed this year:

VETOED: Attacks on Students, Teachers & Curriculum

  • SB1001, Kavanagh (R-3), would have banned teachers from using a student’s chosen pronouns without written parental permission, harming students and further politicizing teachers. Likely unconstitutional. Vetoed 5/22. 
  • SB1040, Kavanagh (R-3), would have banned trans kids from school bathrooms that align with their gender identities. Anyone who “encountered” a trans person in a bathroom could have filed suit against public schools. Likely unconstitutional. Vetoed 6/8. 
  • SB1696, Hoffman (R-15), would have banned district and charter schools (but not ESA-funded private schools) from exposing minors to “sexually explicit materials.” The incredibly broad description would have banned classic works of literature from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou. Violations would have been a class 5 felony with a penalty of up to 2 years in jail. Vetoed 6/5. 

VETOED: Vouchers & Voucher Expansions

  • SB1243, Mesnard (R-13), would have condensed categories for STO (School Tuition Organization) vouchers, increased the maximum contribution amount, and circumvented requirements that students attend public schools first — a way to bolster profit. Vetoed 6/8. 
  • HB2504, Parker (R-10), would have expanded the school tuition organization (STO) voucher program to students in foster care. STO vouchers are dollar-for-dollar tax credits to private schools that result in significantly less money for public schools (which serve 95% of foster youth). Vetoed 6/19. 
  • HB2539, Pingerelli (R-28), would have forced the Arizona Department of Education to spend $600,000 in taxpayer funds on a publicity program for ESA vouchers – unfortunately, Supt. Horne’s ADE is already choosing to spend administrative funds on mass marketing. 

VETOED: Attacks on Schools, School Boards, Districts

  • SB1005, Kavanagh (R-3), would have unleashed strings of baseless lawsuits against school districts and teachers by waiving attorney fees or damages if parents lose a lawsuit. Vetoed 4/11. 
  • SB1026, Kavanagh (R-3), threatened school funding by banning public schools from hosting “drag shows” to entertain people under 18. The bill’s definition of “drag show” was broad enough to include classics like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Violators would have lost state funding for 3 years. Likely unconstitutional. Vetoed 6/16. 
  • SB1305, Mesnard (R-13), was an “anti-CRT” culture-war bill that would have banned teaching “controversial topics” in district and charter schools (but not ESA taxpayer-funded private schools) and driven further distrust of educators. Teachers could have been disciplined up to losing their certificates, and school districts would have faced penalties of up to $5,000. Vetoed 3/9. 
  • SB1331, Shamp (R-29), would have banned school governing boards from restricting the parent of a student from bringing guns on school property with a valid concealed weapons permit. Meanwhile, angry parents are disrupting school board meetings and threatening school staff. Vetoed 4/17.
  • SB1410, Wadsack (R-17), would have required public school boards (but not charter schools or ESA-funded voucher schools) to establish the equivalent of Supt. Horne’s “teacher snitch line” for parents to report purported violations of their rights. Vetoed 6/20. 
  • HB2786, Heap (R-10), would have set up micromanagement of teacher trainings by requiring school boards to notify parents of every single “training opportunities” for teachers and administrators. The Horne administration considers social-emotional learning, diversity, equity and inclusion to be Trojan horses for “critical race theory,” and has canceled planned teacher presentations on these and other “non-academic” subjects, even though the American Psychological Association says they positively impact kids’ lives and ability to learn. Vetoed 6/16. 

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Education Advocacy Mini Sessions

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.

K-12 Updates

K-12 UpdatesSuperintendent Tom Horne is taking aim at English language learners. Building on his past attempts to shut down bilingual education programs, Horne is arguing that Arizona’s dual language programs violate Prop 203 (passed over 20 years ago) if they include students not yet proficient in English, which they do. However, Horne cannot legally shut down dual language instruction for ELLs without the consent of the state board. Four years ago, the Arizona state legislature passed a law directing the State Board of Education to give school districts more flexibility to teach English learners (ELLs). We are monitoring the situation and will update you as it develops. 

In Case You Missed It: Horne’s Department of Education recently announced that ESA vouchers will cost $900 million next school year (nearly $400 million more than budgeted for this year) — even as Ducey’s flat tax decimates revenues. State income tax collections from May fell nearly $200 million short, due in large part to Ducey’s flat tax, which is now fully phased in. This year’s $2.5 billion surplus was fully used up to fund many one-time infrastructure programs and services. Next year there won’t be a surplus; the legislature’s nonpartisan budget analysts predict a balance of just $8 million, making ongoing investments like teacher pay raises essentially impossible. 

Bills We're Tracking

The Legislature is recessed, but nothing is dead until sine die. 

We encourage you to scan this section and contact your senator or representatives directly, as applicable, on bills you care about. 


Key:

⚠️= veto-proof bill

📥= on Gov. Hobbs’ desk

💩= passed

🗑️ = vetoed

☠️= dead

Ballot Referrals:

  • ⚠️💩SCR1015, Mesnard (R-13), would ask voters to require ballot measures to collect signatures from a percentage of voters in each of Arizona’s 30 legislative districts: 10% for initiatives and 15% for a constitutional amendment. Passed 6/12; will appear on the November 2024 ballot. OPPOSE.
  • ⚠️SCR1024, Wadsack (R-17), asks voters to enshrine racism in the state Constitution. This would negatively impact student learning, teacher retention and teacher recruitment. Awaits House Rules Committee, then the floor (and the ballot). OPPOSE.
  • ⚠️SCR1034, Mesnard (R-13), would ask voters to amend the state Constitution to automatically extend the previous year’s state budget if lawmakers don’t pass one in time. This would remove the only structural motivation lawmakers have to work together. Awaits House Rules Committee, then the floor (and the ballot). See duplicate bill HCR2038, Livingston (R-28). OPPOSE.
  • ⚠️SCR1035, Mesnard (R-13), would mandate automatic 50% income tax cuts if Arizona has a surplus. These are permanent cuts to the state general fund – and desperately needed dollars that could be used to bring funding for K-12 schools out of the bottom 5 nationally. Awaits House Rules Committee, then the floor (and the ballot). OPPOSE.

Attacks on Teachers & Curriculum:

  • 🗑️SB1410, Wadsack (R-17), would require public school boards (but not charter schools or ESA-funded voucher schools) to establish the equivalent of Supt. Horne’s “teacher snitch line” for parents to report purported violations of their rights. Vetoed 6/20. OPPOSE.
  • HB2523, Parker (R-10), would require every K-12 student to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily at district and charter schools. Doesn’t apply to taxpayer-funded private schools taking ESA vouchers. Awaits Senate Rules Committee. OPPOSE. 
  • HB2705, Biasiucci (R-30), would create a training pilot program for district and charter school teachers and staff that qualifies them to carry concealed in schools, and appropriate $10 million from the general fund to run it. Awaits Senate Rules Committee. OPPOSE.

Voucher Expansions:

  • HB2014, Livingston (R-28), would more than triple over 3 years the amount Arizona spends on a specific type of STO voucher. Awaits Senate Rules Committee. OPPOSE.
  • 🗑️HB2504, Parker (R-10), would expand STO vouchers to students in foster care. Public schools serve the vast majority of foster youth, who are already eligible for ESA vouchers. Vetoed 6/19. OPPOSE.

Attacks on Schools, School Boards, Districts:

  • 📥 SB1596, Mesnard (R-13), would require school district offices to serve as polling places if elections officials ask for it, and require teachers to attend inservice training instead of volunteering at the polls. Passed Senate final reading 6/13; awaits Gov. Hobbs’ veto. OPPOSE.
  • SB1599, Mesnard (R-13), would fine school districts that don’t post teacher salary information as already required by law up to $5,000 per day. Awaits a House floor vote. OPPOSE. 

Resources & Accountability:

  • SB1182, Bennett (R-1), would give private, for-profit universities a share of the $20 million in tax dollars that helps fund teacher training programs, decreasing funding meant for Arizona’s three public universities. This is not only privatization, but poor value for tax money. Awaits House Rules Committee. OPPOSE.
  • SB1281, Shamp (R-29), gives state income tax rebates of $200 individual, $400 joint, to anyone who filed a return in 2022. This would drain $936 million from the state General Fund, which would mean cuts to K-12 education. Awaits House Rules Committee. A smaller, similar provision was wrapped into the budget. OPPOSE.
  • HB2003, Livingston (R-28), would slash corporate income taxes nearly in half by 2025. Arizona’s tax giveaways already far outpace the entire state budget. Awaits Senate Rules Committee. OPPOSE.
  • 💩HB2809, Carbone (R-25), is a sales tax carve-out for three large private manufacturing companies, draining funds from local needs such as public schools. Arizona is facing a depleted surplus and unbalanced budget due to Ducey’s flat tax and its impact on income tax collections. The state does not have another $100 million to divert to corporations. Signed 6/19. OPPOSE.

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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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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