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Save Our Schools Arizona
Weekly Education Report

56th Legislature, 2nd General Session
Volume 6, Issue 19• Week of May 13, 2024

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Ya Don’t Say: Vouchers are Handouts to the Rich

This week, a new study from the Brookings Institution decisively concluded Arizona’s ESA voucher program has become a “handout to the wealthy.” Color us surprised. 

Researchers at Brookings found, unsurprisingly, that ESA vouchers are handed out in disproportionately high numbers to families living in wealthy areas of Arizona. They found that zip codes with the highest median incomes were using the program at the highest rate — and the areas with the lowest median incomes at the least rate. 

Jon Valant, a senior fellow at Brookings, said that while a heavily promoted claim of those pushing vouchers across the US is to “create opportunities for families who may have the fewest opportunities,” this is not how it plays out in states with universal voucher programs

"What we find is that it's a highly disproportionate number of people who are getting access to ESA funds in Arizona — they live in very wealthy areas, they live in areas with very low poverty rates, and they live in areas with very high levels of educational attainment.”

As Arizona Republic columnist EJ Montini pointed out this week, “We knew from the beginning that imposing a universal voucher program on Arizona taxpayers was a Robin-Hood-in-reverse scam, robbing money from the poor to give to the rich. Knowing that didn’t matter to the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature and then-Gov. Doug Ducey, who signed the atrocity into law. Then, we learned that the con could be 10 times worse than we thought, potentially bankrupting the state. New “revelations” keep proving, sadly, what we’ve known all along.”

Sign our petition TODAY to tell lawmakers you demand ESA voucher reform NOW: bit.ly/voucher-petition

May 6 Wekly Ed Report

Sign our NEW online petition to urge Gov. Hobbs & AZ lawmakers to reform vouchers in this year’s budget. A budget without voucher reform is no budget at all. 

Actions You Can Take

🚫 Contact your lawmakers and ask them to oppose HCR2060. Both the Senate and the House plan to vote on this measure this week.

🔥Love our new billboard near the AZ Capitol? Help us put up a few more by donating at sosarizona.org/donate

It’s really ticking off all of the right people 😉

📧 Use our quick email tool to urge your lawmakers to reform and rein in out-of-control ESA vouchers! bit.ly/VoucherReform

☎️ Call your lawmakers to tell them to reform and rein in out-of-control ESA vouchers! Here’s the Senate, here’s the House!

SOSAZ April Highlights!

We’ve been busy! Our April actions include a lot of organizing from one end of the state to the other, from collecting signatures for #PublicSchoolProud candidates to help qualify them to the ballot to helping recruit, train and elect school board candidates. From the school board to the state legislature, we’re doing the work to ensure candidates that will support our public schools are on the ballot… and cross the finish line too! 

Plus in April, we launched the first-ever Maricopa Action Summit along with 30 partner organizations and hundreds of participants! It was an incredible day of learning and inspiration, with over 250 attendees from across Maricopa County. Next: Pima County!

Community Action Team (CAT) Updates

Tucson & Pima County – CAT Coordinator Abbie hosted a presentation on ESA vouchers and the state of Arizona public education in Green Valley. The team gathered signatures for school board candidates, recruited volunteers to support school board candidates, participated in a Marana school board candidate forum and Yes for Marana PAC meeting, and put together plans for the upcoming Pima County Action Summit in Tucson on June 8.

West Valley & North Phoenix – CAT Coordinators Kristin & Alicia hosted a town hall on the devastating impacts of universal ESA vouchers with Rep. Judy Schwiebert and Deer Valley Gov. Board Member Stephanie Simacek. Their volunteer teams also tabled for school board signatures at the library and a community food fest and canvassed with LD 2, 23, and 27.

Northeast Valley (PV & Scottsdale) – Coordinator Jen is helping lead efforts to get voters signed up for the Active Early Voter List. Our CAT team presented our roadshow to the LD4 Democrats and has been assisting voters in signing up for the Active Early Voting List. They also attended launches for school board candidates. gathered signatures for school board candidates, canvassed with LD4, and participated in a school board candidate forum with LD3.

Southern Rural Arizona – CAT Coordinator Kari is training volunteers to run voter registration tables at local community events from Yuma to Rio Rico. They are also working hard to canvass for LD23 and LD16 legislative candidates, as well as school board candidates.

East Valley – Our East Valley CAT Team conducted voter registration at Mesa Community College, phone banked for Arizona Gives Day, and engaged with local PTO and school groups on the urgent need for more public school funding. They helped launch Rep. Austin’s campaign in Mesa, canvassed in LD 13 for school board & LD, tabled for Mesa school board candidates, attended a CUSD school board meeting, and tabled at many community events meeting folks where they are.

Central & South Phoenix – CAT Coordinator Raquel put together and disseminated the Weekly Education Report en Espanol.

Upcoming Events

Speaking of Schools – Navigating the Privileges & Perils of School Choice”

Tuesday May 14 – 5:30pm

Register for the webinar HERE

School Board Signatures & Community Canvass

South Phoenix

Saturday, May 18 – 4pm

Join #TeamSOSAZ to knock doors in support of pro-public education candidates for Roosevelt Elementary School District & more!

Register HERE

Yuma Public Education Canvass!

Saturday, May 18 – 9:30am

Join #TeamSOSAZ in Yuma to knock doors in support of pro-public education candidates!

Register HERE 

Coffee & Conversation in the East Valley!

Friday May 17 – 4-6pm 

Join SOSAZ’s East Valley Community Action Team at Brick Road Coffee in Tempe to meet & chat with Representative Contreras and School Board Candidates from Kyrene, Tempe Elementary, and Tempe Union High School Districts. 

Connect, Educate, Engage — Igniting Change for a Better Future!

Save Our Schools Arizona and a wide coalition of partner organizations are excited to invite you to a day of action on Saturday, June 8th, at the Pima County Action Summit! Learn from expert presenters, hear from inspiring speakers, connect with passionate community members, and discover how to champion the issues that matter to you most effectively. You’ll leave with all the tools you need to make an impact in 2024 and beyond!

Pima County Action Summit

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Tucson area – 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Register Here!

Running for school board and need support? Join SOSAZ and our partners for a 4-part training series available in April, May, and June!

School Board Candidate Training Series

See all upcoming training dates and REGISTER HERE

Public School Proud Weekly Virtual Phonebanks

Join us to connect with voters at our Public School Proud Phonebanks every Tuesday from 5:30-7:00pm – this is a great chance to start making a difference to elect a Public School Proud legislature this November! 

Next one: Tuesday, May 7 from 5:30 – 7:00 pm — Register here!

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Volunteer Outreach Weekly Virtual Phonebanks

Call SOSAZ volunteers to tell them about important events and help them engage in ways to help flip the Legislature! We have a lot of fun, join us!

Next one: Thursday, May 9th from 5:30 – 7:00 pm — Register here!

Upcoming Events

Click Here for a list of all of SOSAZ’s upcoming online and in-person events!

As the Legislature Turns

This week, Senate Republicans waived their own rules to introduce an anti-immigrant ballot referral HCR2060, very similar to already-vetoed SB1231 which echoes Arizona’s notorious SB1070. Veto-proof HCR2060 conflicts with a 2012 US Supreme Court ruling that said Arizona has no right to enforce federal immigration laws, and is likely unconstitutional. 

Save Our Schools Arizona joins other education organizations and business groups to oppose HCR2060. This referral is a significant escalation in immigration law that directly threatens the welfare of vulnerable populations, with far-reaching consequences for Arizona students, families and communities. According to 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data, one-third of Arizona’s total population is Latino. It will not benefit our diverse state or help students learn if we allow local police to arrest those “suspected” of entering the United States illegally, to spend state money holding people in violation of due process rights until their legal proceedings, and to grant police immunity from prosecution for any racial profiling. 

Unlike similar proposals in other states, HCR2060 does not make any exemptions for enforcement in places like schools, effectively turning places of learning and sanctuary into zones of fear and uncertainty. This will carry far-reaching and damaging consequences for learning environments, negatively affecting student enrollment, achievement and absenteeism even as our public schools are just beginning to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic. 

Additionally, this shortsighted measure is projected to cost the state $325 million per year and does not come with any appropriation to cover those substantial costs. We feel compelled to remind the Republican lawmakers arguing that this measure “will pay for itself” that Arizona currently faces a $1.8 billion deficit of their making, caused by the massive tax cuts and unaccountable universal ESA vouchers they passed, both of which were supposed to pay for themselves too. We’ve seen this script play out before, and we know how it ends. 

HCR2060 awaits a third read (official floor vote) in the Senate, and then must go back to the House for a final roll-call vote since it contains completely new language. If it passes both chambers, it will go directly to the 2024 ballot, circumventing Gov. Hobbs’ veto stamp. 

☎️ Call your Senators TODAY to urge them to vote NO ☎️ 

In addition to HCR2060, there seems to be some horse trading happening. The Senate Elections Committee will meet Thursday at 10am to consider a striker to HCR2056, which previously would have asked voters to OK a racist “anti-diversity” ban on teaching certain content in schools. This type of movement on a long-stalled bill at this late stage in session is typically an indicator that, rather than the merits of a bill receiving primary consideration, votes are being traded to garner support. 

The Senate Elections Committee hearing meets Thursday at 10am, likely after the floor vote on HCR2060. The short title for the striker is simply “elections.” Bill language won’t be released until next week, but rumor has it that Republicans led by Wendy Rogers (R-7) plan to try to restrict drop-off times or deadlines for early ballots.

Public School Proud!

Check out some incredible pictures and stories from across the state that make us #PublicSchoolProud! Know a story you think we should spotlight? Send an email to tyler@sosarizona.org to let us know!

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, so we wanted to highlight some of Arizona’s amazing teachers from across the state:

Congratulations to 2024 Arizona Teacher of the Year Efrain Casillas, a longtime music teacher in the Tolleson Elementary School District! Efrain attended a White House State Dinner with First Lady Jill Biden last week in honor of his achievement. We would also like to congratulate the 2024 Chicanos Por La Causa Esperanza Latino Teacher Award winners, who will receive a $5000 prize and a $2500 stipend for their school. Congratulations to Lilian Williams from Heatherbrae Elementary, Gabriel Robles from Carl Hayden High School, Margaret Gallego from Robinson Elementary, and Erika Acosta from Ash Fork Middle School.

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Flagstaff Unified had a lot to celebrate at this year's Coconino County Teacher of the Year Awards! Coconino High School’s Jeremiah Smith was named 2024 Coconino County Teacher of the Year, Marshall Magnet Elementary School’s Emmy Cartwright was named 2024 Rookie Teacher of the Year, and Flagstaff High School’s Dr. Rick McEnaney received the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to all of these dedicated teachers for their incredible commitment to educating!

Congratulations to all of the Westside IMPACT Teacher of the Year Award winners in Pendergast Elementary District, including a special shoutout to 2024 Outstanding PESD Principal Mike Woolsey!

We are excited to announce SOSAZ’s *NEW* Public Education Defense Fund, which will protect Arizona students’ right to a safe, quality, accessible public school in their community.

Every dollar contributed to this fund will go directly towards electing pro-public education candidates up and down the 2024 ballot, from school board to the state legislature. 

Donate to SOSAZ’s Public Education Defense Fund Today!

Building a strong Public Education Defense Fund is essential to fighting back against increasingly dangerous political agendas that threaten our students’ right to learn in safety, acquire a truthful understanding of science and history, and succeed in excellent public schools.

Your contributions will help us recruit, elect, and support public education champions running for local school boards and the Arizona state legislature, shifting the balance of power at the Arizona state legislature towards one that will prioritize, fund, and defend Arizona’s public school students, educators, and classrooms. 

Thank you for helping us work toward a future where a high-quality, fully-funded public education is available to all Arizona students.

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.

©2023 by Save Our Schools Arizona® All Rights Reserved. Not for use in whole or in part without permission.

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