Save Our Schools Arizona began with a handful of hardworking but politically inexperienced women. Fed up with Arizona’s rank at the bottom of the nation for per-pupil funding and teacher pay, and frustrated by the inability of their lawmakers to address the growing crisis, they focused their efforts on the 2017 session of Arizona’s legislature. One particularly bad bill stood out: a universal school voucher scheme, authored by out-of-state special interests, which would redirect Arizona’s tax dollars away from already underfunded public schools and into private pockets.
These concerned citizens advocated for responsible public education policy in every way they could. Along with thousands of other Arizonans, they called and emailed their legislators, urging them to drop the voucher bill. They used Arizona’s Request to Speak system to comment in the public record, attended committee hearings, observed floor votes, and met with lawmakers personally. But Arizona’s legislature and governor ignored the clearly expressed wishes of their constituents. They turned their backs on a mountain of data outlining the fiscal irresponsibility of universal vouchers. And they rammed the bill into law.
Heartsick and angry, the women decided that they simply could not let even more money be drained from public schools. This bill was the last straw. After many late-night kitchen table conversations, they decided they must give Arizonans a choice on how their tax dollars would be spent. They became the core team of Save Our Schools Arizona, mobilizing thousands of parents, teachers, retirees and concerned citizens statewide into a grassroots volunteer campaign to refer universal voucher expansion to the ballot. And, against all odds, they succeeded. Now known as Proposition 305, the choice will go to Arizona voters in November 2018.
Save Our Schools Arizona has a proven track record of mobilizing major support for public education statewide. As volunteers, parents, and teachers, we have gained the trust of Arizonans who care about public schools, including political and business leaders who understand the crisis our schools face and recognize that we must act now.