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Save Our Schools Arizona
Weekly Education Report

56th Legislature, 1st General Session
Volume 5, Issue 38• Week of September 25, 2023

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Celebration of Arizona’s Public Schools

Our very first Celebration of Arizona’s Public Schools was a resounding success! We celebrated with 450 public school advocates from across the state, witnessed incredible student performances and art displays from public schools all over the state, and heard inspiring remarks from Attorney General Kris Mayes and our beloved former Superintendent Kathy Hoffman. 

We are still matching donations for the event, if you can support your dollars will go twice as far. Donate here: sosaznetwork.org/donate.

Upcoming Events!

Want to learn more about bonds and overrides and how they impact education funding in your community? With many local bond and override elections coming up this November, you won’t want to miss Education Forward AZ’s Education Power Hour on 9/28, featuring SOSAZ’s State Outreach Director Nicky Indicavitch and other AZ education experts! Register HERE.

Thinking About Running for School Board? 

Join SOSAZ and a host of pro-public education organizations to get information about what running for school board office entails, and how to get started! 

Saturday, September 30 @ 11am – register HERE

Tuesday, October 10 @ 6pm – register HERE

Sunday, October 22 @10am – register HERE

Yuma Rural Action Summit – November 4 – Mark “Going” HERE!

Champions of Public Education

Arizona educators and public school advocates work tirelessly for Arizona’s students and often do not receive the recognition they deserve. This year, for the first time ever, SOSAZ Network is awarding thirteen education champions who have demonstrated an incredible commitment to public schools! 

Please join us in congratulating our 2023 Champions of Public Education:

Voucher Watch

ESA Voucher Committee Sham: The Arizona legislature convened its first ESA Voucher Ad Hoc Committee on Governance and Oversight this week. Unsurprisingly, the committee failed to present robust fundings or pursue in-depth conversations on how the state will budget for the program, how the legislature will increase oversight of public taxpayer dollars, or how to crack down on fraud and abuse of taxpayer funds. In other words – it was a sham. 

Many parents testified in opposition to ESA vouchers as a gross misuse of public taxpayer dollars, a mechanism to defund public education, and a program that is wide open for fraud and misspending. Speaker Toma shut down robust discussion, disallowing committee members from asking these testifiers any follow-up questions or engaging in discussion with them.  

Taxpayers Demand ESA Voucher Accountability: Read this excerpt from an op-ed written by Mark Hanna, retired Catalina High School counselor and former member of the Pima Community College Governing Board:

“This is really not about “school choice”. Some 92% of Arizona parents choose to send their children to public schools and while polls show that many Americans are unsatisfied with the state of K-12 education, an overwhelming majority believe that their local schools provide a strong educational environment. This is about politicians rewarding generous donors with subsidies for their children’s private education. It is about them promising to get government out of your lives by turning over the future of our most precious asset, our children, to private corporations and religious-based institutions. And it most certainly is not about saving taxpayer money. The ADE is spending $600K on advertising to convince you to take your children out of public schools. Think about that for a minute.”

Read the full op-ed here.

Around the Horne

Superintendent Horne unveiled his newest endeavor last week — an “Achievement” tutoring program funded by grants he revoked from a slate of mental health programs across the state. Horne claims that the tutoring program is necessary to help students catch up from pandemic learning loss. However, the program only has enough funding for a tenth of the students who test below grade-level proficiency. , 

The initial version of the tutoring program (which is being left wide open to private tutoring companies, according to the ADE website) excludes more than 60% of Arizona students from participating. Here are the excluded categories as they originally appeared on the website:

Existing Tutoring Programs:

  • State Tutoring – If your student is enrolled in a D or F school, a tutoring program already exists for your student. To enroll your student and learn more, please visit the State Tutoring website.
  • Title I Schools – If your student is enrolled in a Title I school, there are already student supports available and ready to use. To find out more information about Title I assistance, please visit the Targeted Assistance website.
  • Exceptional Student Services – If your student is receiving special educational services, there are already supports available to use. To find out more about ADE Exceptional Student Services, please visit the Special Education Services for Parents and Families website.

While references to Title 1 schools and Exceptional Student Services have since been removed, it is still unclear if these students are eligible for the $40 million program. In Arizona, 11% of students receive special education services and 55% of our public schools hold a Title 1 status where at least 40% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch. That would mean more than 60% of Arizona students, including some of the student groups most impacted by the pandemic, are ineligible. 

It remains to be seen who will be served, how much Supt. Horne will be pushing private tutoring over district services, and who ultimately benefits from the program. If history shows us anything, it likely won’t be the students who need it most. 

Upcoming Events!

Want to learn more about bonds and overrides and how they impact education funding in your community? With many local bond and override elections coming up this November, you won’t want to miss Education Forward AZ’s Education Power Hour on 9/28, featuring SOSAZ’s State Outreach Director Nicky Indicavitch and other AZ education experts! Register HERE.

Thinking About Running for School Board? 

Join SOSAZ and a host of pro-public education organizations to get information about what running for school board office entails, and how to get started! 

Saturday, September 30 @ 11am – register HERE

Tuesday, October 10 @ 6pm – register HERE

Sunday, October 22 @10am – register HERE

Yuma Rural Action Summit – November 4 – Mark “Going” HERE!

Get Plugged In!

Have you signed the AZ Loves Public Schools Pledge yet? Be part of our growing community of public school supporters, sign the pledge and then share with your friends! Also check out our map of Arizona’s public school supporters and help us fill it in!

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Don’t forget to join us on social media. Pick your favorite(s) and join us for fun, engaging content!! This is where we post important updates, key news articles, and informative graphics and videos you can’t get anywhere else.

Get Plugged In!

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Have you signed the AZ Loves Public Schools Pledge yet? Be part of our growing community of public school supporters, sign the pledge and then share with your friends! Also check out our map of Arizona’s public school supporters and help us fill it in!

Don’t forget to join us on social media. Pick your favorite(s) and join us for fun, engaging content!! This is where we post important updates, key news articles, and informative graphics and videos you can’t get anywhere else.

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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