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Governor Expands Voucher Program Draining Money from Least-Funded Public Education System in America

Phoenix, AZ – April 24, 2014 – By signing House Bill (HB) 2139 and expanding the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) voucher program, Governor Brewer has signed her legacy over to special interest groups working to dismantle public education in Arizona.

“Arizona is increasing expectations and accountability measures for our traditional public schools, despite the fact that the state is not meeting funding obligations for public education,” says AEA President Andrew F. Morrill, “It is unfathomable to think that the governor would choose to sign a bill that drains public money into a black hole debit card scheme with zero accountability for academics and zero taxpayer transparency.”

Arizona made the deepest cuts to public education funding – $1.5 billion to K-12 education – in the last five years and now has the lowest per-pupil funding in the nation. HB 2139 expands the eligibility of Arizona’s ESA vouchers to thousands of more students by allowing siblings of those who currently qualify to receive them. AEA believes vouchers divert public money from our already struggling public schools to private schools with no accountability.

“Restoring cuts to education funding is the priority of Arizona’s citizens, not expanding ESA vouchers,” says Morrill. “Business and community leaders weren’t calling for them. Education leaders certainly weren’t calling for them. It’s mystifying that the governor chose to expand this voucher program when there was no public call for them.”
It is concerning that Governor Brewer has chosen to side with opponents of public education – Cathi Herrod, the Goldwater Institute, the Alliance for School Choice, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – all of whom are pushing voucher legislation at the cost of educating our children.

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