Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Education Bills in the Lege (Which May or May Not See the Light of Day)

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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Many bills are written in the Arizona legislature, but few are chosen. And when Democrats write the bills, even fewer make the cut. With that in mind, here's an incomplete list of bills relating to education which I hope will get a serious hearing, even though some of them are less than perfect. (If I've missed any important ones, commenters, let me know.) I'm not going to list the sponsors of each bill, but I'll show how many are Democrats and Republicans. You can click on the links to learn more.

There's plenty to say about the bills, but it doesn't make sense to say much until we see which get serious consideration.

Opt Out of Statewide Assessments
HB 2246. This bill would allow parents to choose to have their children opt out of statewide assessments for whatever reason they choose. (Sponsored by 3 Republicans)

Public School Tax Credits
HB 2198 allows tax credit money given to public schools to be used for classroom curriculum as well as extracurricular activities. Currently, the money can only be used for extracurricular activities. (Sponsored by 2 Democrats) 
HB 2232 increases the maximum public school tax credit from $200 for an individual ($400 for a couple) to $500 for an individual ($1,000 for a couple). (Sponsored by 9 Democrats, 1 Republican)

Private School Tax Credits/School Tuition Organizations
HB 2231 says 95% of the tax credit money collected by STOs must be used for scholarships, meaning the STOs can only keep 5% for overhead. Currently, STOs can keep 10%. (Sponsored by 11 Democrats) 
HB 2233 forbids tax credit donors from recommending beneficiaries for scholarships. Currently, donors can recommend anyone but their own dependents (STOs aren't bound by the recommendations, but they tend to follow them). (Sponsored by 10 Democrats, 1 Republican) 
HB 2235 means tests scholarships. At least 66 percent of the scholarships have to go to children whose family income doesn't exceed 185 percent of the income qualifying a child for free or reduced lunch. (Sponsored by 11 Democrats)
HB 2251 says the Department of Revenue has to send information on tax credits donated by corporations to the Governor, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, Chairs of the Finance and Ways and Means Committee, and the Secretary of State. (Sponsored by 10 Republicans, 6 Democrats)
HB 2234 Restricts the amount of extra tax credit money parents can give when their children move from public to private schools. (Sponsored by 12 Democrats)

Joint Technical Education District (JTED) Funding
HB 2249 includes funding for 9th grade students. (Sponsored by 10 Democrats, 5 Republicans)

Ethnic Studies
HB 2357 repeals the statutes that were used to dismantle TUSD's Mexican American Studies program and are currently being used to try and alter the way the Culturally Relevant Curriculum is taught. (Sponsored by 15 Democrats)

All Day Kindergarten
HB 2426 mandates that all school districts or charter schools offering kindergarten offer all day kindergarten. No funding is attached to the mandate. (Sponsored by 11 Republicans, 4 Democrats)

Sex Education
HB 2476 gives parents the right to opt out of age-appropriate sex education programs. Currently, parents have the right to opt in. Instruction includes abstinence education and information about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases. (Sponsored by 15 Democrats)

Community College Tuition
HB 2487 waives the first two years of tuition and fees for community college for  Arizona residents who maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher. (Sponsored by 11 Democrats)

Immunization, Health Services
HB 2466 requires schools with websites to post immunization rate of pupils and whether the school employs a school nurse. If anyone other than a school nurse provides health care services to pupils, the qualifications of those persons must be posted.

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