Boyer Blocking Parental Choice, Privacy Bills

He claims to be an advocate for academic choice, but Rep. Paul Boyer (LD20), Chair of the House Education Committee, appears to oppose parental choice and as a result is holding up a number of education bills this legislative session. Boyer, who does the bidding of some in the Arizona charter school industry, is refusing to allow bills related to parents’ right to opt their children out of testing, informed consent, and the make-up of the State Board of Education.

When asked why some in the charter industry are preventing the bills from receiving a fair hearing, one “school choice” proponent told the ADI, “I think if parents opt into public schooling, they are stuck with the rules of public schooling. Better not to participate in the first place.” That is the general thinking behind the obstructionist actions; if parents believe that it is only public schools that offer no choice, parents will be driven to charters.

The problem with the thinking is twofold: 1) parents do choose traditional public schools for a variety of reasons, and 2) for many parents, especially those in inner-city areas that cherry-picking charters void, there is no choice.

Boyer’s decision to reject the bills developed at the request of constituents leave legislators in a lurch. Parents, teachers, and taxpayers worked throughout the year on bills they believed would best serve the state only to have a handful of lobbyists and one representative decide that they did not deserve at least a fair hearing.

The fact that Boyer refuses to give those constituents and their representatives an opportunity to lose in committee is the height of arrogance and an affront to democracy. The democracy to which guys like Boyer and Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, a charter school owner behind Boyer’s behavior, only pay lip service.

Time is running out for the bills to be heard, and time serving in the Legislature will run out for the likes of Boyer, Farnsworth and other committee chairs if they continue to deny parents, teachers, and taxpayers an opportunity for their bills to be heard. The outrage is palpable and the death by a thousand cuts to representatives, who are unable to fully represent their constituents, is painful. They will be unable to explain the intricacies to their constituents in a way that fully absolves them of the failure of Boyer. Picture it: “Vote for me, I tried to represent you, but mean old Paul Boyer wouldn’t let me.” That excuse will not fly, for parents and teachers who have heard ‘the dog ate my homework’ one too many times.

The funny thing about Boyer’s move is that he claims to be a conservative, but even the state of California, which is the haven for all that is evil according to conservatives, recognizes parental authority and their primacy in educational matters.

The deadline for hearing bills is looming, and an effort to get the outrage to channel it into calls to Boyer has begun. The question now becomes who will be able to win the day – the educational industrial complex or their customers?

Boyer is blocking the following bills:

  • HB2056: statewide assessments; parental opt-out
  • HB2582: student, teacher data collection; prohibitions
  • HB2088: schools; assessments; surveys; informed consent
  • HB2003: county school superintendent; college degree
  • HCR2049: state education board; membership; superintendents
  • HB2003: county school superintendent; college degree

The representatives running the bills in question were unavailable for comment. Paul Boyer can be reached at 602-926-4173

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