Kids across Arizona are going back to school this month, and most of those students will be headed into public schools. But public school funding remains under attack.
All summer long, the parents and teachers with the Save our Schools coalition worked to collect enough signatures for a referendum on the new law expanding Arizona’s voucher program. They exceeded all expectations and turned in more than 111,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office – well above the 75,000 needed to put the issue on the ballot. (The signatures are currently being verified.)
This victory apparently did not sit well with the dark money groups supporting vouchers. They have resorted to “desperate” tactics to keep the voters from weighing in on this. Is it because they know vouchers harm public schools by setting up two education systems and forcing taxpayers to fund both? And by pitting these two school systems against each other for funding, vouchers are making it harder for the state to fix the teacher shortage crisis.
These problems are exacerbated by the potential for fraud. Voucher program oversight is “almost a sham.” The public cannot see how their tax dollars are being spent in schools that aren’t required to meet certain state standards. These issues inspired parents, teachers and thousands of volunteers to help the Save Our Schools coalition stop voucher expansion. This group is continuing to fight dark money opponents because Arizonans should get the final word on vouchers.
House Democrats agree that we should be investing in our public schools. If there is money to expand vouchers in our state, there should be money to raise teacher salaries and reduce class sizes. We’ll stand with the students, teachers and parents in Arizona until our public schools are thriving.