Save Our Schools Act
Education has been the dominant issue in Arizona politics for the past several years and it looks to be so again this November. Supporters of the #RedForEd movement are currently collecting signatures for a new version of the Invest in Ed ballot initiative which failed to make the ballot in 2018 and which would raise taxes on high-income earners to fund public education. And then last week, Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ), the group behind 2018’s successful defeat of Proposition 305, announced a new ballot initiative they are calling the Save Our Schools Act.
Save Our Schools Arizona, if you will remember, is the grassroots group that was formed in 2017 to fight the Arizona legislature’s expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) school voucher program. The group got the 2017 voucher expansion referred to the ballot in 2018, where it was resoundingly defeated by nearly two-thirds of Arizona voters. But this defeat has not deterred Republican legislators, many with ties to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ pro-voucher group American Federation for Children (AFC), which have tried to sneak voucher expansions through in each of the last two legislative sessions. The current attempt would allow voucher money to be spent in out-of-state schools for the first time.
And so, tired of having to fight these bills one at a time like Whack-A-Mole, SOSAZ has decided to go on the offensive with the Save Our Schools Act, which would prevent the legislature from approving any ESA voucher expansions in the future. This type of forward-thinking offensive maneuver is what is needed in the fight against the privatization of education. As outlined in the white paper on ESA voucher White Hat Research and Policy Group released last year, co-authored by SOSAZ Research Director Sharon Kirsch and Katrina Hanna, ESA vouchers are one part of a multi-decade incrementalist strategy by groups like AFC to drain public education of funding.
So if you want to know more about why the SOS Act is needed, I would recommend going back and reading that paper. It lays out the long-term strategy to expand vouchers little by little, in which the SOS Act would finally end. It will provide you with all of the backgrounds you will need to understand and explain the SOS Act to others over the next few months, as this is sure to be one of the hottest topics of the election season in Arizona.