The Arizona State Legislature is preparing to reconvene in a few short weeks. In its last session, the legislature passed SB1431, expanding school vouchers (called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts) to all schoolchildren in Arizona. Vouchers take money out of public school budgets and give taxpayer dollars to individual families to subsidize private school education.
Last summer, more than 111,000 Arizonans said, “Not so fast!” and signed petitions successfully halting voucher expansion by referring the bill to voters in November 2018. Save Our Schools Arizona is leading a rally at the State Capitol on January 6, two days before the Governor’s State of the State address, to demand that the state government prioritize public education.
The statistics about public education in Arizona are shocking: 49th in the nation in per-pupil spending, third largest class sizes, 51st worst state to be a teacher. We already know that vouchers will harm our kids and destroy our public schools. Here are some of the ways that vouchers hurt our kids, schools, and state:
Vouchers Hurt Kids.
Our kids deserve the highest quality teachers and schools. When ESA vouchers divert funds to well-off private schools, it harms the 95% of Arizona families who choose public schools.
Vouchers Hurt Classrooms.
ESA vouchers will pull millions of dollars from our classrooms each year. Our classrooms are already overcrowded and underfunded. We cannot allow one more cent to leave our public classrooms to fund private schools.
Vouchers Hurt Taxpayers.
As taxpayers, we trust our state to spend our tax dollars wisely. Spending public dollars on private school entitlements makes no economic sense. We taxpayers also want to know where our tax dollars are going — and with ESA vouchers there is little cost transparency.
Vouchers Hurt Neighborhoods.
When we fail to invest in our neighborhood schools, property values decrease and crime increases. ESA voucher programs take money from our local communities and shift it to the wealthiest areas. Arizonans want our state to protect our homes, schools, and communities.
Vouchers Hurt Special Needs Students.
Save Our Schools Arizona supports the ESA voucher program for special needs students as it’s currently configured. Expanding ESA vouchers to all students would mean that children with special needs no longer have priority.
Vouchers Hurt Rural Areas.
Rural schools will receive little to no benefit from the ESA voucher program, since our rural communities have few private schools. However, these rural schools will have to sacrifice their funds to the ESA voucher program just like any other school.
Vouchers Hurt the Economy.
Businesses want to set up shop where they’ll find a well-educated workforce and excellent public schools for their employees’ families. As Arizona has stopped investing in its public schools, businesses have stopped choosing Arizona. ESA vouchers will only add to the problem.
Please join thousands of your fellow Arizonans at the March to Save Our Schools on January 6 at the Arizona State Capitol. This is a family-friendly event, with bounce houses, music, face painting, and other fun activities. Come to celebrate our public schools, and show your support for our teachers and children. Sponsored by Save Our Schools Arizona, AZ PTA, AZ Schools Now, and Children’s Action Alliance. 9:00-10:00: Food trucks, bounce houses, face painting, sign making. 10:00-10:30 Remarks from guest speakers. 10:30-11:30: March to Save Our Schools.