Thursday, April 6, 2017

ESA expansion is 'next step' in wholesale dismantling of Arizona public schools

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Leaders of the Senate Democratic Caucus released the following statement on the passage of SB 1431:

"Since taking office in 2014, this governor and his Republican legislators have gleefully claimed to support public education in Arizona, despite the hypocrisy of deliberately slashing funding for years and taking every opportunity to undermine our struggling schools.

"This year alone there are bills to remove $211 million from our schools, eliminate standards that ensure our children are taught by qualified teachers, and the governor's budget proposes an insultingly inadequate 4/10ths of a percent raise for Arizona teachers who are paid the least of any state.

"By passing this legislation Republicans are enabling a system that data show subsidizes affluent families, while poorer Arizonans are unable to use ESAs because they cannot afford the remaining costs of private-school tuition.

"94% of Arizona families choose public schools for their children and 77% of Arizonans believe the state should be investing more in those schools. It is long past time for the Legislature to honor their choice by adequately funding our public schools.

"But the Republicans who control Arizona continue to chronically underfund our public schools and have now chosen to further siphon money from them by expanding school vouchers.

"During today's floor debate Senate President Yarbrough stated, 'this is a very important day in the history of Arizona.' Sadly, he is correct. Today will be remembered as the 'next step' in the wholesale dismantling of public education in Arizona."