Save Our Schools Arizona
Weekly Education Report
55th Legislature, 2nd General Session
Volume 4, Issue 13 • Week of April 4, 2022
Nearly every long-stalled, unpopular attack on public schools passed through the final round of Appropriations committees last week, allowing these bills to stay alive until the legislature adjourns. One bright spot: school takeover bill HB2284 did not appear on an agenda and is dead in its current form (though nothing is truly dead until our legislature adjourns).
Hastily written school funding overhaul bill SB1269, introduced at the 11th hour last week, received only 12 minutes of testimony. School officials and funding experts pleaded in vain with majority lawmakers to slow down; it advanced along partisan lines. This bill cuts funding for 121 rural districts, removing additional compensation for experienced teachers, desegregation funding, and more. Several rural superintendents were denied the ability to testify; Appropriations chair Regina Cobb even threatened to censure another lawmaker for repeatedly questioning the bill and asking that a superintendent who had driven from Chino Valley be allowed to testify (he was not).
The last-minute proposal would have profound negative effects on small rural districts. As one school administrator points out, “We stand to lose way more than we ever hope to gain.” Districts couldn’t opt into the new formula without also giving up all other sources of funding, including bonds, overrides and desegregation funding, and so would likely choose not to. Worse, many funding sources districts rely on, such as extra pay for experienced teachers, would disappear — resulting in a $124 million decrease statewide in teacher pay.
Instead of rushing a harmful striker through at the last minute, majority lawmakers should heed the voices of experts. One business leader said, "Instead of deliberating carefully and listening to the public, the legislature is moving full steam ahead to adopt a solution that won’t solve Arizona’s school funding problems and could make them worse. Furthermore, the amendment has the potential to create confusion in schools at a time when our school leaders need stability and support."
SB1269 now awaits a vote of the full House. Use our one-click email tool to ask your lawmakers to oppose this and other incessant attacks on public education.
Meanwhile, a special session to make an end run on voters appears stalled due to holdout senator Paul Boyer (R-20). We applaud Boyer for demanding a sizable investment ($900 million) in public education to make Prop 208 whole, but are deeply concerned about the plan to repeal last session's massive tax cut (thus removing it from the November ballot) and replace it with a new version. Future funding of public schools will be markedly harder if the legislature follows through with their foolhardy plan to strip $2 billion in funding each year by giving tax cuts to the elite. Even $900 million in additional investments would barely cover inflation, a cost to schools which lawmakers have not met. Furthermore, we reject Boyer’s attempt to wrap an unaccountable ESA voucher expansion into the bargain. These proposals are being negotiated by the majority party in closed rooms; stay tuned on SOSAZ Facebook and Twitter throughout the week for any emerging details.
Calls to Action
🌟 Use Request to Speak on these bills before Monday at 8:00 AM:
• NO on SB1211 • NO on SB1412
🌟 Keep calling & emailing your lawmakers: it’s working! Use our one-click email tool to tell lawmakers NO to these incessant attacks on public education.
Bills Still in Motion
Many of these could be brought up for a vote with less than one day's notice.
Attacks on schools, school boards, districts:
Attacks on teachers & curriculum:
Watering down teaching:
What You Can Do to Help
Your voice matters! A simple phone call or email to your lawmaker asking them to prioritize funding for schools and responsible policies for education goes a long way. Make it clear that you expect well-funded and well-resourced schools where educators feel supported and students feel safe.
For Arizona to move forward and thrive, we need these critical discussions! Find your legislative district here. Email and phone info is here for your representatives and here for your senator. Please reach out and make your voice heard.
Here are some other easy actions you can take:
🌐 https://sosarizona.org /SaveOurSchoolsArizona @arizona_sos
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