General election

Did you know that Arizona’s school vouchers already drain more than $75 million out of public education into private schools with no accountability? While Arizona is still far behind in supporting the vast majority of students in public school, our state Legislature and governor passed a massive expansion of these vouchers. The expansion would mean that private schools could get subsidies from our tax dollars for any student — no matter what their needs or income. Proposition 305 gives us voters the chance to approve or repeal this universal expansion of vouchers.

Please join me in voting NO on Proposition 305 and standing up for the foundation of our American Dream: a public education system that builds opportunity for all.

Proposition 305 steps back from that American tradition by hurting the public schools that are the top choice for parents. Vouchers use public tax dollars for private schools that can turn away any child for any reason — learning style, religion, academic level, special needs and family circumstances. Even voucher fans have admitted that Arizona’s vouchers contain no academic transparency or accountability. The Arizona Auditor General found the vouchers vulnerable to misspending. There is no requirement for private schools to publicly report test scores, graduation rates, student retention or financial audits.

The Arizona Legislature first created these vouchers in 2011 to expand educational options for students with special needs. Since then, they have continued to expand which students can qualify for the voucher subsidies, leading toward universal vouchers.

The voucher expansion favors well-off students in metropolitan areas, while neglecting students in rural Arizona and students with lower-income families who are learning in underfunded public schools. Most rural areas of Arizona have no private schools, so the vouchers primarily benefit families in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. Many low-income students will be unable to use the vouchers because their parents can’t afford transportation, uniforms, books and fees, and tuition costs above the voucher amount. As a result, high-income students get the benefit of the tax allocation to vouchers. The voucher expansion gives no priority to students with special needs, so they might actually be shut out of opportunities they have today.

As a mom and a champion for all children growing up in Arizona, I urge you to vote NO on the voucher expansion in Proposition 305. With a NO vote we can:

• Keep the current system and preserve vouchers for students with special needs.

• Stop the state from draining more tax dollars into private schools that can turn away any child for any reason.

• Allow Arizona to better invest in K-12 public education.

Vote NO on 305. Together we can make smarter investments in educational opportunities for all of Arizona’s children. JN

Dana Wolfe Naimark is president and CEO of the Children’s Action Alliance.

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