Arizona governor touts school voucher plan, slams opponents

Aug 16, 2022, 2:43 PM | Updated: 3:19 pm

PHOENIX (AP) — Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and backers of universal school vouchers took a victory lap Tuesday over legislation the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted in June giving the state the nation’s most expansive voucher system, and he also used the time to attack backers of public schools who are trying to block the measure at the ballot.

Ducey touted the signature bill he signed in July that gives all Arizona parents the ability to take state money that would go to their local public school and instead use it for private school tuition or other education costs. The governor had a ceremonial signing at a central Phoenix Christian school that already gets large benefits from the state’s tax credit donation programs and existing school voucher program.

But he celebrated the new universal voucher expansion, which has been a key goal during his eight years in office. A similar law with enrollment caps that passed in 2017 was rejected by 2/3 of the state’s voters the following year, but Ducey did not stop his voucher expansion plans.

“Over the last eight years, and it is taken all of eight years, we have taken action to ensure that more kids have this opportunity by positioning Arizona as the national leader in school choice,” Ducey told several hundred students, lawmakers and voucher supporters gathered at Phoenix Christian Preparatory School.

“Our kids will no longer be stuck in underperforming schools. We’re unlocking more educational options for them and unlocking their full potential,” he said. “There’s no one-size fits all model to education.”

But he acknowledged the fight ahead, as public school advocates try again to block the voucher law that is set to take effect on Sept. 24. And he slammed them for their efforts.

“Misguided special interest groups will try to tell you that this legislation will diminish our public education system,” he said. “They couldn’t be more wrong. Public education means educating the public.”

Beth Lewis, executive director of Save Our Schools Arizona, the grassroots groups made up mainly of public school parents, teachers and concerned citizens who blocked the 2017 law, said it is Ducey who is wrong. The group needs slightly more than 118,000 valid signatures to keep the voucher law from taking effect. It would remain blocked until voters can weigh in in November 2024.

“Gov. Ducey’s dog and pony show about universal vouchers underscores his agenda to defund public education,” Lewis said. “The reality is Arizona students all across the state have happily started public school. And parents expect those schools to be funded and they do not want vouchers.”

Lewis and other public school advocates say vouchers take money from an already underfunded public school system, while proponents herald the program as letting parents choose the best education for their children.

Lewis contends the new voucher law could take away more than the new school funding lawmakers added this year, which neared $1 billion in ongoing and one-time cash.

Under the new law, an estimated 60,000 private students and about 38,000 being homeschooled would immediately be eligible to take up to $7,000 per year. Some of this currently get vouchers and many already get money from groups like School Tuition Organizations that funnel tax credits to students.

All 1.1 million students who attend traditional district and charter schools would also qualify to leave their public schools and get money to go to private schools. About a third already qualify, but only about 12,000 students statewide now use the system.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

State news: Iran executed 4 people it says spied for Israel

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian authorities executed four people Sunday accused of working for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, the state-run IRNA news agency said. Three others received lengthy prison sentences. IRNA said the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard announced the arrests of a network of people linked to the Israeli agency. It said the members had […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: December 4, the “Million Dollar Quartet”

Today in History Today is Sunday, Dec. 4, the 338th day of 2022. There are 27 days left in the year. Today’s Highlights in History: On Dec. 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered for the first and only time for a jam session at Sun Records in Memphis. […]
1 day ago
A Palestinian flag and a poster showing Ammar Adili, 22, who was shot and killed by an Israeli bord...
Associated Press

Palestinians say killing caught on video was unjustified

HAWARA, West Bank (AP) — A makeshift sidewalk memorial with a Palestinian flag and a mourning notice paid tribute Saturday to a 22-year-old Palestinian whose death at the hands of an Israeli border police officer — four pistol shots from close range — was captured on widely shared amateur video. A day after the shooting […]
1 day ago
FILE - A flu vaccine is readied at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plans...
Associated Press

Flu season worsens as 44 states report high activity

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. flu season keeps getting worse. Health officials said Friday that 7.5% of outpatient medical visits last week were due to flu-like illnesses. That’s as high as the peak of the 2017-18 flu season and higher than any season since. The annual winter flu season usually doesn’t get going until […]
1 day ago
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin introduces the B-21 Raider stealth at Northrop Grumman Friday, De...
Associated Press

Keep COVID military vaccine mandate, defense chief says

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he wants to keep the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place to protect the health of the troops, as Republican governors and lawmakers press to rescind it. This past week more than 20 Republican governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Family says coyote attacked toddler outside LA home

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A coyote ambushed and injured a 2-year old girl outside her Los Angeles home in a daytime attack before her father chased the animal off, her family said. Home security video obtained by KTLA-TV shows the animal grab and drag the toddler across her lawn and sidewalk, just seconds after her […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Arizona governor touts school voucher plan, slams opponents