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Arizona Schools Chief Gives Up on Public Education

Phoenix, AZ – February 12, 2104 – With the recent news of the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction’s robo-call promoting private school education for public school students, it is clear that Superintendent John Huppenthal has decided that the goal of Arizona’s public education system is for profit, rather than the education of Arizona’s 1 million students.

“It is appalling that the Superintendent of Public Instruction would ask parents in this state to remove their children from Arizona’s public schools and enroll them in private schools,” says AEA President Andrew F. Morrill. “He has a responsibility to support our state’s system of public education, which includes our students, our teachers, our education support staff, and our schools to ensure that they have the resources they need in order to succeed.”

Superintendent Huppenthal recently recorded a robo-call as part of a massive marketing campaign promoting a voucher program that funnels taxpayer money from public schools into private schools with no accountability.

The Arizona Education Association (AEA) opposes the use of taxpayer funds to fund private and religious schools. AEA members believe these programs undermine public education, reduce the support needed to fund public education adequately, weaken the wall of separation between church and state, and cause racial, economic, and social segregation of students. There is a pervading myth that vouchers are the solution to the crisis in our public schools, when the truth is that vouchers do not improve student achievement, they do not reduce the cost of public education, and they offer no real educational choice for many parents. Read the facts about vouchers on the National Education Association’s website.

“If Superintendent Huppenthal thinks our public schools are failing, then he should commit to strengthening them, not giving up on them,” says Morrill. “What is failing is the level of funding and support for Arizona’s public schools coming from our state’s leaders.”

Since 2008, the Arizona Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer have cut over $1 billion in education funding, while raising the expectations of our schools and teachers. Our state needs to invest in classroom priorities that we know creates better learning such as having a quality teacher in the classroom, reducing class size, and funding full-day kindergarten.

Public education in America is a unique enterprise. The purpose of our public schools is not to make a profit, it is to provide a service and educate our children so they can become productive citizens. By supporting this voucher scheme, Superintendent Huppenthal has formed an alliance with those who see education as a for-profit venture and our children as a dollar amount, rather than as the future of our state.

AEA, along with a coalition of education groups, is currently involved in a lawsuit, NIEHAUS et al. v. HUPPENTHAL et al., challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s private school voucher program.  The case is currently in the Arizona Supreme Court.

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