Save Our Schools Turn In Over 100K Petitions To Force Voucher Expansion On Ballot

Save Our Schools Turn In Over 100K Petitions To Force Voucher Expansion On Ballot [Photo from SOS]

On Tuesday, August 8, the grassroots group Save our Schools Arizona delivered more than 100,000 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State successfully halting SB1431 from taking effect and referring it to the November 2018 ballot for Arizona voters to decide.

In fewer than 90 days, more than 2,500 regular Arizona voters fanned across the state collecting signatures at libraries, coffee shops, parks, and shopping centers. They worked day after day in 120 degree heat, through monsoon storms and around jobs, families, illness and family deaths.

Signatures were collected by Arizona citizens ranging from newly-registered 18 year olds to 84 year old retired teachers, independents, Republicans and Democrats, teachers, parents, business owners and retirees whose personal history or children’s education include neighborhood public schools, public charter schools, private schools and homeschooling.

SB1431 – the voucher expansion bill – was highly controversial throughout the 2017 Legislative Session. Despite unprecedented public opposition, the bill narrowly passed with both Democrats and Republicans voting against it.

According to Save our Schools, SB1431 takes tax dollars away from public schools. Ranging from $4,000 to $30,000 per child, per year, “Empowerment Scholarship Account” vouchers can be used to subsidize religious, private, or parochial schooling as well as homeschooling and any other expenses a family describes as “educational.”

In a recently published article Parag Pathak, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice, found vouchers do not necessarily help students. Pathak conducted an evaluation of “the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), a school voucher plan providing public funds for disadvantaged students to attend private schools of their choice.” He found that “LSP participation substantially reduces academic achievement: attendance at an LSP-eligible private school lowers math scores by 0.4 standard deviations and increases the likelihood of a failing math score by 50 percent. Voucher effects for reading, science and social studies are also negative and large. Participating private schools charge below-average tuition, and the program’s negative math effects are concentrated among participating schools with lower tuition. Negative voucher effects may be due in part to selection of low-quality private schools into the program.”

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  1. A busy mother of a pre-teen recently confided that he was ‘going over the edge’. She had no idea about Common Core and once advised of same, decided this was the trigger to his recent behavior and non-compliance.
    Cut to the present; he is going to a military school. This woman’s school district did not have options for her son, and she couldn’t afford and he didn’t qualify for the private sector. Expensive? You bet!! But, you have to do what you have to do to save your kids from CERTAIN FAILURE in the regular public districts.
    Hope this end well – we shall see in several months.

  2. So, I wonder what Parag Pathak had been smoking. In this article…”In a recently published article Parag Pathak, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice, found vouchers do not necessarily help students.” “vouchers do not necessarily help students”… seriously?? Any parent that leaves their kids in the public indoctrination system is not doing their children any favors except dumbing them down to become reliant on the government. Which is exactly WHY the democrats push public schooling and want free college… this way they can indoctrinate them all and rely on the government for all assistance and then the dems stay in power. I pray that vouchers ARE protected.

  3. There is a point many conservatives are missing when it comes to education funding buying compliance. Conservatives often are quick to be skeptical of the Feds controlling education via budgets/grants etc. The timing of Common Core being ushered in under Obama during a deep recession is one very recent example. What voters forget is that under Bush, the No Child Left Behind regime ramped up the over testing of children which has done ZERO in 16 years to improve education. It has made many wealthy with remediation to pass the tests etc not to mention all the data number crunchers. This is Big Biz and its finest. While the Constitution stipulates education policy is a matter for states–the real world reveals this is largely lip service as no state stands up to the Feds…ever on anything. AZ like every other state still has to get its education plans “blessed by Betsy DeVos in DC.”

    In Indiana and 6 other states, voucher accepting schools must test ALL pupils using the state test…not just the kids taking vouchers. Parents, whose school choice, means having something completely different than the public school get back door Common testing which leads to common curriculum/standards IF your measure of school grading and funding is linked to the outcome of the tests. Talk to parents in Indiana like I have.

    As a Mom who has researched private school options throughout AZ, it already is difficult to find a private school not saddled with Common Core books–because that is all the new publishers are printing, virtually all educational software and apps are also tied to the Common Core.

    Finding a classical Christian education in AZ completely untouched by Common Core is harder than conservatives imagine. Shouldn’t it be easy in The School Choice state?
    IF you’re thinking–pick Catholic Schools–wrong, they voluntarily picked Common Core and their “own Diocesan Standards” are a virtual carbon copy of Common Core. Only a handful of Catholic schools which operate outside of the Diocese may skirt Common Core.

    As a parent who does not support Common Core, school choice to me means choice about what is taught in the classroom, not just the geographic location to which I drive my car. Sure the Bible isn’t touched by Common Core, but there are other important subjects that are. Choice should be more than any color Model T so long as it is black.

    Money buys compliance whether at the Fed level or at the State level. SB1431 opened the very first door by requiring schools that enrolled 50 ESA students to publish the scores of ALL students in the school. Right now, AZ doesn’t require the State mandated test blessed by the Feds. But how long until that changes? In the education world “accountability” is basically on achieved through the outcomes of a test. It’s too bad, because parents pick a school for dozens of reasons and test scores aren’t necessarily tops on the list.

    When ESA’s came to AZ in 2011, there were caps that nearly every year were expanded so that disabled, military, foster kids, kids in failing schools, Native American kids…and probably other items I missed. My point…legislation is done incrementally. How long until AZ requires the STATE’s AzMERIT or whatever to be used to see if a private school could keep their voucher money?

    As the 1/2 dozen states that already require the state test for private schools.

    We have to wake up to the fact that unless you LOVE Common Core, everything is lined up to it. Yes, even the SAT, ACT, and all AP (Advanced Placement) courses.

    Do I want parents to have choices? Yes. But there are few without the influence of Common Core and all who profit from it.

    Do I think schools who teach Math without the Common Core Math methods should give tests that are written to test a students knowledge of how to think about Math –the Common Core way will continue to buck the conformity to Common Core? They won’t if their funding becomes precariously in jeopardy based on how students perform on a test.

    6 years into Common Core, there are no widespread increases in student learning in any state…so why let that creep into the few places that have so far rebuked at least some of Common Core?

    For those of you with kids and grand kids in private schools today…if they use Math books printed after 2010, it is more likely than not that Common Core standards are being taught. If you like it, congrats, you are also paying top dollar for the same thing public schools teach.

    I do wonder if vouchers become an easy, universal way to pay for private school why wouldn’t we see tuition sky rocket? Look at college costs over the last decade or two. With the advent of “free money” /grants, students loans…this has been cited by economists as the biggest reason college tuition is out of control. Why is it unreasonable to think this can’t happen in K-12 private schools if vouchers over time become universally available?

    I am a conservative Mom. I follow education policies in all 50 states. If you think AZ in immune to misdeeds or bad policy, think again. AZ often copies bad ideas from other states…mostly Florida and Jeb Bush’s bad ideas.

    I think more conversations need to be had about school choice and what that means. Might it be, than many more people would come to realize that so long as the Common Core machine keeps churning, choice is an empty platitude.

    How many of you knowingly want your tax dollars to continue funding it?

    Money buys compliance no matter the level of government. We all know this.

    • WOW, you make a lot of good points that everyone needs to think about. We MUST get rid of common core… but can we? Thanks for the info

  4. Interesting that the Louisiana program
    is cited.

    Apparently an analysis of the Arizona
    voucher program did not turn up the
    desired results opponents to vouchers

  5. If that money, the per child amount given to TUSD, returned educated children then the concern would be real. As it is now number 1 the education the child receives in TUSD is more indoctrination than education. If one goes to a restaurant and receives crappy food and crappy service would you go back to that restaurant? TUSD has proven time and again that what they give in exchange for the taxpayers monies is crappy service. It will be a long time before I go back to that restaurant!

    • Very true. The reason the vouchers and Charter schools came about is the poor education students receive in our public schhols. Additionally the discipline enforced is a value Parents desire. The bullying and disrespect of authority that is stopped in it’s tracks is a real successful tool used by private and charter schools. When my child went to private school, the threat of being paddled was a real deterrent. I seriously doubt any paddling was done but it worked.
      In her charter high school Demerits were used, X amount and child was sent home and a serious parent – teacher meeting occurred, too many and you were told Good bye. They were there to teach,child was there to learn and be respectful of everybody. That is why Private and Charter schools have been successful.
      Please vote to keep the vouchers, lets give Tucson kids a real chance at learning.

  6. To liberals, choice is only allowed when killing the unborn. When it comes to your children, they own them and they will do anything to imprison them in their indoctrination camps known as public education.

  7. They should mean ” Save our jobs” by denying children a chance at a better education! Funny how over the years Private schools were criticized over their better education only for those who could afford it. Now vouchers will make it easy for bright students to receive a superior education with vouchers and the teachers and the public will deny them over a silly “save our schools” campaign.
    Hey as you all used to say ” It’s for the children”.
    I sent my child to private school up to 8th grade, but I had to sacrifice a lot to afford it, I just thought she was worth it.Some parents can’t afford it at all.
    Please vote to keep the vouchers.

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