Tuesday, March 4, 2014

House Democrats Speak Out Against Expansion Of "Empowerment Scholarship Account" Vouchers

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Arizona's House Democrats put out a press release condemning HB 2291, which would expand voucher program, Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, aka Education Savings Accounts, aka (according to me) Vouchers on Steroids.

NOTE: Since this press release came out, Republicans began work on a rewrite of the legislation to include even more students in the voucher program.

House Democrats committed to keeping money in
Arizona public schools

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX — Arizona House Democrats are working to stop tax dollars from being siphoned out of the public school system.

“Extremists at the Capitol are pushing legislation that could pull millions of dollars out of our public schools through the use of private school vouchers,” Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), said. “One of the most recent examples of this is HB 2291, a bill that would increase the number of students who can use state dollars to attend private schools, which are not subject to state regulations.”

HB 2291 would change the requirements to qualify for the Empowerment Scholarship Account Program, which offers private school vouchers, to include all students and who are eligible to receive free or reduced lunches and the siblings of current voucher recipients. This could increase the program by more than 400,000 students.

“This change, combined with the other voucher program expansions over the years, would make about 60 percent of public school students eligible for these vouchers,” Meyer said. “Students using the vouchers receive an average of $5,400 a year. That money comes directly out of the budgets of our public schools.”

“The state continues to use tax dollars and tax credits to make private school more affordable for the approximately 5 percent of the Arizona student population that makes the choice to attend those schools, while causing significant damage to the education of the 95 percent of students who are choosing to attend public schools,” Calles said.

Meyer added that supporting public education should be a priority of anyone at the Legislature who is interested in investing in the economic security of the state.

“Legislation that undermines the public school system in our state is incredibly detrimental to our economic future,” Meyer said. “These vouchers use tax dollars to subsidize schools that are not subject to state testing standards. We need our kids in schools that can be held accountable for preparing them for the workforce. By starving public schools of resources, we are affecting the very foundation of our economy.”

To see a copy of the bill, go to: http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=2291&Session_Id=112&image.x=0&image.y=0.

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