Arizona’s School Choice Expansion Very Likely to Be Halted as Signatures Mount for ESA Blockage

Arizona’s historic legislation expanding school choice to every child in the state appears likely to be placed on hold right now, as a ballot measure aimed at stopping the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) expansion will probably make the 2024 ballot. Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ) said its signature collectors turned in 141,714 signatures for “Stop Voucher Expansion” to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on Friday. Only 118,823 valid signatures were required by Sept. 24, leaving plenty of room for error with bad signatures.

Jenny Clark, the founder of Arizona-based Love Your School and a new appointee to the Arizona State Board of Education whose children participate in the ESAs, told The Arizona Sun Times, “Today 11,000 Arizona students had the opportunity of an ESA put on hold. Every day that a child struggles in a school that’s not working for them is detrimental. But this is far from over. We will be monitoring the signature verification process, and continuing to walk alongside Arizona families and their children.”

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Katie Hobbs’ Education Plan Bashes School Vouchers

Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, running for Arizona’s highest office, released an education plan that bashes school vouchers and calls for tighter restrictions on charter schools. 

“Katie continues to oppose the universal expansion of school vouchers. As governor, she will work to roll back universal vouchers, which the legislature enacted against the will of voters this year,” according to the plan. “Vouchers should not have been expanded to provide an unaccountable means of enriching private schools and defunding our local public schools.”

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Arizona Legislature Considering ‘Most Expansive Education Savings Account Program in the Nation’

The 2022 Arizona legislative session is almost over, but there are still a few key bills policy watchers say have a good chance of making it into law. One is HB 2853, which would expand school choice by opening Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to all K-12 students in the state.

Cory DeAngelis, a national education policy expert who serves as national director of research for the school choice organization, American Federation for Children, tweeted, “This would be the most expansive education savings account program in the nation. All families would be able to take their children’s education dollars to the education providers of their choosing.”

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Public Affairs Specialist and All-Star Panelist Clint Brewer Analyzes the Relationship Between a County Government and a Local Education Authority

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Clint Brewer in-studio to explain the relationship between a county government and local education authorities.

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Tennessee Supreme Court Hands Governor Lee Massive Victory on School Vouchers

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Governor Bill Lee’s school voucher program is constitutional. The voucher program only applies to failing schools in Davidson County and Shelby County.

The court said in a statement, “The Tennessee Supreme Court determined that, while two Tennessee county governments had standing to challenge the Education Savings Account Pilot Program (the “ESA Act”), the Act is not rendered unconstitutional by the Home Rule Amendment, article XI, section 9, of the Tennessee Constitution.”

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Corey DeAngelis: More School Choice Creates Greater Incentive for Teachers’ Unions to Push Student-Focused Policies

Corey DeAngelis of the American Federation for Children

In an interview with The Star News Network, nationally known school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis said teachers’ unions would be incentivized to push for more student-focused policies in public schools if school funding followed the child and more states adopted school choice programs.

DeAngelis, the national director of research at the American Federation for Children, is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and a senior fellow at the Reason Foundation.

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Demand for Gov. Ducey’s School Vouchers to Leave Arizona Schools That Mandate Masks or Require Unvaccinated Students to Quarantine Exceeds Funds

Doug Ducey

Just three weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey announced that school districts issuing mask mandates or requiring vaccinated students to quarantine would be penalized by diverting money to students to use as school vouchers to attend elsewhere, demand has exceeded the $20 million he allotted by twice the amount. Ducey announced on August 17 that money the state received from the federal government through the pandemic-generated American Rescue Plan to boost per-pupil spending would not go to any of those schools.

Ducey made the announcement immediately following a demand on August 11 from Republican state legislators to take action regarding those school districts. They suggested that Ducey could withhold federal funds and offer vouchers, which he did, but he did not go so far as following their recommendation of suing the school districts.

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Florida Might Allow School Vouchers for Children to Avoid Mask Mandates

The Florida Board of Education (BOE) is holding an emergency meeting today to consider a proposal to allow families to use their own tax dollars as school vouchers so they can transfer their children out of school districts requiring COVID-related procedures.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed their tune, once again, and is recommending face masks for all children in K-12 schools, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning mask mandates in Florida’s schools.

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Arizona Legislature Wraps up Session for the Year

The Arizona Legislature wrapped up this year on Wednesday with a nearly record-long session, reaching 171 days. Lawmakers came to an agreement on most of the budget last Friday that contained historic tax cuts. Governor Doug Ducey signed that bill, HB 2900, also on Wednesday.

During the last few hours, the legislature approved the education budget bill, HB 2898, which included an expansion of the school voucher program. It reduces the length of time children must attend a public school before they are eligible for vouchers to use at a private school. Low-income children who live near poorly-rated schools will be eligible immediately, and others will only have to spend 45 days in the school, down from 100 days.

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Tennessee American Federation for Children: Gillum Ferguson Talks Education Savings Account and Determining Eligibility

In a special interview, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed State Communications Director for Tennessee’s American Federation for Children, Gillum Ferguson on the newsmakers line.

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Commentary: The Strongest Support for School Vouchers Comes From Lower-Income Families

hen it comes to education, the word voucher tends to elicit strong reactions in three broad public opinion camps. First, there are those who feel strongly that vouchers can expand education options for families by allowing children to attend a private school using some or all of the per-pupil spending amount allocated to the local district school.

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North Carolina Governor Under Fire for Proposing Freezing School Voucher Program

by Joshua Nelson   A billboard campaign in North Carolina is taking aim at Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper after his announcement proposing freezing a scholarship program that has benefited minority students—more than 30 percent of which are African-American. The billboard says the governor is “failing when it comes to helping…

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Tennessee Officials Who Fight School Vouchers Can’t Use Proper Grammar in Written Communications

Public school officials in Tennessee who protest school vouchers insist public schools are by far the best option for children, especially versus charter schools or private schools. Yet in their written communications some of them can’t seem to put a proper sentence together. Take Etowah City School Principal Brian Trammell,…

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Public School Principal May Have Violated Tennessee Law By Pressuring Teachers to Lobby Against School Vouchers

A Tennessee public school principal recently sent an email to teachers and staff at their school and urged them to lobby against the school vouchers’ bill currently up for consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly. According to the language of the Tennessee Hatch Act, such activity violates state law. The…

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Final Details of Gov. Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account Plan Released

Tennessee students in urban cities could start escaping failing schools in fall 2021 as Gov. Bill Lee has pulled the curtain back on his education savings account (ESA) plan, with legislative action planned for Tuesday. Some say the math does not add up. Lee would spend up to $75 million…

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OFF THE RECORD: Executive Director of TOSS Uses Bad Grammar on Twitter to Encourage Superintendents to Lobby Education Commissioner on Budget

The executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents apparently does not use proper grammar on social media. This, even as he publicizes an event he considers important. Dale Lynch is the current TOSS executive director. TOSS, according to their list of legislative priorities, oppose school vouchers that would…

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Governor Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account Plan Will Offer School Choice to Less Than One Percent of Tennessee Students in 2020

Gov. Bill Lee is moving forward on his campaign pledge of school choice in the form of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) available in 2020, although only about one-half of one percent of the state’s students would qualify to participate in the program’s first year. The governor delivered his first State…

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JC Bowman Commentary: State of the State Expectations 2019

The State of the State will signal to the state the administration’s priorities for the immediate future. It is where campaign promises, either become realities or go to die.

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Rutherford County Officials Formally Oppose School Vouchers

Rutherford County officials have joined their counterparts at five other Tennessee school systems to formally oppose school vouchers. Board members with the Rutherford County School System just unanimously passed a resolution to that effect, school system spokesman James Evans told The Tennessee Star Tuesday. Murfreesboro City School System board members,…

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Tennessee School Districts Fighting School Vouchers Turn in Lackluster Academic Results, State Figures Reveal

The five school systems in Tennessee that have come out to formally oppose school vouchers haven’t exactly done that great of a job preparing students for college. This, according to statewide statistics members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission reported last week. As The Tennessee Star reported, representatives from some…

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Jackson-Madison County School Board Members Oppose School Vouchers: ‘Is It Fair for Teachers . . . to Lose Their Jobs?’

Yet another school district in Tennessee has formally opposed school vouchers. Members of the Jackson-Madison County Board of Education, the governing authority for the public schools in the West Tennessee city of Jackson and the parts of Madison County beyond the city limits, voted unanimously on January 28 to oppose…

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State Sen. Ken Yager Pledges Opposition to School Vouchers

State Senator Ken Yager (R-TN-12) said he will not support school vouchers if they come up for a vote in the Tennessee Legislature in 2019, the Independent Herald of Oneida said. “I am opposed to vouchers,” Yager said. “I will not support any proposal that will cause a hemorrhage of…

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Tennessee Star Report: How Will Gov-Elect Lee Follow Up on School Choice Campaign Pledge?

In a specific discussion on Tuesday morning’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the duo contemplated Bill Lee’s current cabinets picks and the absence of any conservatives.  The conversation…

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Bill Lee Discusses School Choice But Will Not Commit to Placing it on His Agenda During First Year as Governor

Governor-elect Bill Lee sat down for a twenty minute interview with Tennessean reporters Joel Ebert and Natalie Allison in that publication’s Grand Divisions podcast, which was also included in a story published at the Tennessean on Tuesday. Ebert pressed Lee on his commitment to supporting school choice in Tennessee, a…

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School Voucher Bill Pushed To Next Year

Tennessee supporters of school vouchers will have to wait until next year for another shot at legislative approval. Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) on Wednesday deferred his bill to next year. The proposed legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown). Vouchers allow students to attend private schools with taxpayer…

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Movie Critical of Charter Schools and Vouchers Shown at Nashville Film Festival

  A documentary taking a critical look at charter schools and vouchers was shown Tuesday evening at the Nashville Film Festival. “Backpack Full of Cash” was filmed partly in Nashville and features Metro Nashville school board member Amy Frogge, who attended Tuesday’s screening at the Regal Hollywood 27 at 100 Oaks.…

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