What are ESA vouchers?
How are they different from school vouchers?



ESAs, Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, are school vouchers by another name. They use tax dollars taken out of public school budgets to subsidize private school tuition or even online or home schooling. 1

What was
Senate Bill 1431?



In April 2017, the Arizona Legislature passed and Gov. Ducey signed into law SB1431, a bill to expand ESA vouchers beyond special categories of children (such as military and foster children and those with special needs) to all 1.1 million students in the state.2 The expansion would have been funded with money earmarked for public education, further damaging Arizona's already underfunded public schools. Because of SOS Arizona's successful grassroots referendum campaign, the ESA voucher expansion is now known as Proposition 305. It will went before Arizona voters in November 2018. The proposition was defeated by a 65% margin. Despite the massive statewide rejection of voucher expansion in Arizona, more attempts to expand the program continue to be introduced now, in the 2019 legislative session.


Where does Arizona stand for education funding?



Arizona ranks 48th for public school funding3 and dead last in the nation for teacher pay.4 Arizona has cut more from education funding than any other state in the nation, a decline of more than 35%.5

Did you know?

Despite our state’s growing population and the larger number of students in today’s classrooms, our public schools are also getting nearly 15% less funding now than they did 10 years ago.6
Dollars cut from K-12 education in Arizona since 2009

(The number you're waiting for is $4.56 BILLION)

% of AZ students attending non-public schools
% of AZ Kids who attend public schools
% of Public School budget overrides that passed in Maricopa Co. Nov 2017

What is the Arizona Classroom Crisis?



Due to rock-bottom pay, meager resources, and lack of respect, more teachers flee Arizona classrooms each year than Arizona’s universities can graduate.7 Nearly 2,000 classrooms statewide have no permanent teacher, and another 3,400 classrooms have been filled by people who are not trained to teach.8 Learn more.

How do ESA vouchers contribute to the classroom crisis?

ESA vouchers take more money away from our already underfunded schools. Official state estimates predict a universal ESA voucher expansion would cost the state millions, all coming from cuts to public education.9

How do ESA vouchers affect rural schools?



Because the local public school is the only option in most rural areas, ESA vouchers are even more harmful for rural Arizona.10 Arizona’s rural public schools already have the second highest needs of any state in the nation.11 ESA vouchers harm the 35% of Arizona students in rural districts by further underfunding their already poorly funded schools.

In 2016, state law allowed $13.7 BILLION in taxes to go UNCOLLECTED.††

My children attend a charter school. Does ESA voucher expansion affect us?



All charter schools in Arizona are funded by public taxpayer dollars, so they will suffer from ESA voucher expansion too. Charters pay for their own facilities instead of getting funding from the state pool, and they don't receive any money from local bonds or property taxes.12 When overall school funding is reduced by ESA vouchers, families at charter schools make up the difference by paying twice: once to bridge their school's shortfall AND again for ESA voucher expansion.13

My children attend private school. Why shouldn't I get to use an ESA voucher?



The economic future of our state is at stake. Arizona already lacks the workforce it needs to compete with other states.18
If teachers continue to flee the state, “Arizona will not be able to ensure economic prosperity for its citizens and create the workforce of tomorrow.”17 With 95% of Arizona families choosing public schools, our state must invest its resources in those students in order to succeed.16

I don’t have children in school. Why should this matter to me?

Strong public schools make a strong state. Just as an educated population strengthens our state economy and maintains property values,14 a poorly funded public school system lowers wages and property values, discourages business from locating in Arizona, and depresses our economy overall.15 An Arizona teacher can move to New Mexico to do the same job for an immediate $15,000/year raise — and they do.26 Any CEO or business owner worth their salt would take immediate action if their business was falling behind and bleeding talent like that. We cannot afford not to invest in our economic future.

      How does this affect our economy?

      Business executives name Arizona's educational system and the workers it produces as major impediments to better economic growth.17 Businesses are choosing to locate in other states, consistently citing an “undereducated workforce” as the top reason for avoiding Arizona.18 Numerous Arizona companies recruit out-of-state because we don’t invest in growing enough talent at home. Our state can’t afford three more years of inaction.

        • What did voters think?

          Arizona voters across all parties and professions consistently name education as the state’s top priority.19 Arizonans oppose ESA voucher expansion by more than 2 to 1.20 Arizona voters blocked the expansion by a 65% margin and 97% of them name public education as central to Arizona’s success.21

        • What happened after Save Our Schools Arizona got enough signatures to put ESA vouchers on the ballot?

          The referendum appeared on the November 2018 ballot as Proposition 305, allowing Arizona voters a say in how their tax dollars are spent and the future of their state. 65 percent of Arizonans voted NO, rejecting the Legislature’s ESA voucher expansion.

        • Where is the push for ESA voucher expansion coming from?

          Three special interest groups, Americans for Prosperity, the Goldwater Institute, and the American Federation for Children, have each spent untold millions in Arizona on influencing elections and expanding ESA vouchers.22 Together, they are working to dismantle public education, changing it from the force which propelled America to world superpower status into a money-making scheme to benefit the already very rich.

        • Are court challenges in the works?

          Yes. National special interest groups, including Americans for Prosperity and the American Federation for Children, have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into frivolous court challenges22 in a transparent attempt to silence Arizona voters.23 Your donations will help our outstanding legal team to do what it does best: defend your voice in court.

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        1. Arizona's new school-voucher program is on hold. Now what?” Arizona Republic, 8/10/2017
        2. Gov. Doug Ducey signs expansion of Arizona's school-voucher program” Arizona Republic, 4/7/2017
        3. Report: Arizona ranks near the bottom in public school student funding” KTAR, 9/8/2016
        4. Fact Check: Does Arizona rank last in teacher pay?” Arizona Republic, 1/31/2017
        5. Arizona school funding still lagging, report shows” Arizona Capitol Times, 11/29/2017
        6. Arizona students get less state money now than in 2008, study says” Arizona Republic, 11/30/2017
        7. Arizona struggles to combat teacher shortage” 12 News Phoenix, 1/5/2017
        8. 866 Arizona teachers have already quit this year” Arizona Republic, 12/19/2017
        9. School-voucher expansion could cost Arizona $24M a year or more” Arizona Republic, 2/17/2017
        10. Where school choice isn’t an option, rural public schools worry they’ll be left behind” Washington Post, 2/10/2017
        11. Are Arizona's rural schools in a state of emergency?” AZ Ed News, 6/14/2017
        12. Overview of K-12 Per Pupil Funding for School Districts and Charter Schools” Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee, 6/26/2017
        13. JLBC concludes voucher expansion will increase costs to state” Arizona Capitol Times, 2/15/2017
        14. A Well-Educated Workforce Is Key to State Prosperity” Economic Policy Institute, 8/22/2013
        15. How closing schools hurts neighborhoods” Washington Post, 3/6/2013
        16. Better Schools, Better Economies” The Atlantic, 12/9/2015
        17. Arizona CEOs see schools as key weakness” Arizona Republic, 2/17/2016
        18. AZ lacks top workforce to truly compete” Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 12/23/2013
        19. Survey finds strong support for education issues in Arizona” Arizona Daily Star, 1/8/2016
        20. Poll: Do Arizonans want public money used for private-school tuition?” Arizona Republic, 10/23/2016
        21. Arizonans say education is valued but underfunded” Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 5/16/2012
        22. In Arizona's voucher fight, it's citizens v. Koch network” Arizona Republic, 10/31/2017
        23. Koch-funded group spends six figures to 'educate' on vouchers” Arizona Republic, 11/16/2017
        24. Think tank worked to control Arizona school voucher program behind scenes, emails show” Arizona Republic, 12/7/2017
        25. Koch Latino Front Group Instructs Arizona Moms About School Vouchers” PR Watch, 11/27/2017
        26. Why teachers are fleeing Arizona in droves” Washington Post, 6/19/2015

        †  Arizona's Unrestored Budget Cuts Arizona School Boards Association
        ††  The cost of cuts: Arizona tax carve-outs last year hit $13.7B Arizona Capitol Times, 5/8/2017