Like a bad penny, SB1416, Governor Doug Ducey and Senate President Andy Biggs’ education power grab has been resurrected by Speaker David Gowan. Gowan originally promised parents he would kill the bill, but today assigned it to the Appropriations Committee.
Ducey and Biggs ran the bill, which would strip the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction of its powers, under two separate numbers; SB1313 and SB1416, in an effort to slip it past parents. At the same time, representatives friendly to the public’s role in public education have worked tirelessly to block a vote on both bills.
On Wednesday night, SB1313 was held, but not before Education Chair Paul Boyer led an abusive discussion in support of the bill. SB1313’s death led Gowan, whose lack of ethics is legendary, to break his promise to mothers and assigned it late in the afternoon to the Appropriations Committee.
Rep. Justin Olson is the chair of the Appropriations Committee and challenging Biggs in the race to replace retiring Congressman Matt Salmon. Olson, known as the proverbial Boy Scout, is the anti-thesis of Biggs. Olson is a fiscal conservative while Biggs has earned a poor reputation for his unrelenting promotion of crony capitalism and the chambers of commerce.
While Biggs tries to claim the fiscal conservative title, SB1416 would cost Arizona taxpayers dearly. According to the ADE, the bill will increase costs to the department by approximately $2,684,000 and increase costs to the State Board of Education by $620,000.
Not only would the changes increase operational costs, they would likely spur civil rights complaints due to the inability of the State Board to act in the fluid fashion required for the administration of Arizona’s English Language Learner Program. Already the Board has proven it cannot manage the few tasks it does have including teacher decertification investigations. Because of their failure, predators have remained in some Arizona classrooms.
Many now see the SB1313/ SB1416 fight as a battle between Biggs and Olson. It is archetypal struggle between good and evil, David and Goliath, the people versus the machine, etc., etc., etc. So far this session, under the leadership of President Biggs and Speaker Gowan, the people have been crushed. It will be the lone victory for the people should Olson bring the giants to their knees.
According to sources, Olson has privately questioned why Gowan had assigned it to his committee. He has vowed to kill it.