Save Our Schools Arizona
Weekly Education Report
55th Legislature, 2nd General Session
Volume 4, Issue 21 • Week of June 6, 2022
Lawmakers have forced a mammoth ESA voucher expansion bill and “two measures relating to K-12 finance revisions” onto the House Rules Committee agenda set for Monday afternoon. This late Friday addition signals that special interests are pushing an 11th hour Hail Mary in their attempts to destroy public education.
Details on these bills are still sketchy, and drafts haven’t been released to the public, but this legislature has taught us to expect nothing but the worst when it comes to education bills. We expect the ESA voucher bill to be a universal expansion with zero accountability measures and no enrollment cap — even bigger than Prop 305, which voters overwhelmingly rejected. As for the "K-12 finance revisions," rumor has it they're versions of long-stalled school funding overhaul bill SB1269 (under which roughly half of Arizona districts would lose money) and previously-dead school takeover bill HB2284. These efforts are being driven by deep-pocketed special interests, the voices in the House Republican majority who are most hostile to public schools, and in the case of the school takeover bill, by the governor's office.
🚨🚨ALL HANDS ON DECK 🚨🚨
Email your lawmakers TODAY
Tell them it's time to fund public schools, not to pass more vouchers!
Despite a record $5.3 billion surplus, this Republican majority remains hellbent on forcing through a wasteful, unwanted ESA voucher expansion. Meanwhile, Arizona lawmakers are faced with a teacher retention crisis, huge class sizes, and last in the nation per-pupil spending. They have just 16 working days left to pass a state budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
All this begs the question: What happens to Arizona's public schools if lawmakers don't pass a budget by July 1? Technically, without a state budget, schools cannot operate because they would not have the money to do so. Districts are currently being forced to assume that funding for next year will continue at current levels, in order to pay teachers and honor contracts they've already signed. However, they cannot spend dollars the legislature has not appropriated — to say nothing of the various strings lawmakers usually attach or the new programs they require. Can schools even open in the fall if the legislature remains gridlocked?
It’s also important to remember that some districts, such as Chandler, Higley, Maricopa, Benson and Bisbee, have adopted year-round calendars and begin school in July. These districts are at the most potential risk. Our Republican legislative majority is childishly operating as if their actions don’t impact the state, when in reality they do. Why are lawmakers playing chicken with our schools?
Speaking of gridlock, the Senate did not hear classroom censorship bill SB1412 last week as expected, presumably due to public opposition from a single Republican senator, Paul Boyer (R-20). We cannot assume the bill is dead, however, as it can still be amended. Keep reaching out to your state senator to express your opposition.
It’s obvious: the only path forward is to elect a new legislature that will prioritize our public schools. We're talking to voters around the state, doing the critical work to help Arizona #Vote4PublicEd. Primary ballots will be mailed out in 5 short weeks! Join us and help make phone calls or knock on doors by clicking here. We need you!
Calls to Action
🌟 Use our one-click email tool to tell lawmakers NO to their incessant attacks on public education
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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: