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Superintendent Huppenthal Abuses His Public Office to Betray Public Education

Phoenix, AZ – May 5, 2014 – With his recent press release stating his intent to provide additional funding to Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA), Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal is abusing the authority of his public office to advance for-profit private schools over the public education system he manages.

During the 2013 legislative session, a bill passed that gave students who left a charter school to attend a private school the charter school additional assistance funds—approximately $1,500 per student.  This last legislative session, SB1237 was pushed by Huppenthal’s office to attempt to amend state law (A.R.S. 15-2402) to give every ESA voucher recipient both the basic state aid funding and the charter school additional assistance funding, even if the recipient had never received the charter additional assistance funding previously. AEA was successful getting this language amended out of the bill during House Committee of the Whole, and several legislators spoke of their intent to prevent the very expenditure that Superintendent Huppenthal now proposes.

“Legislators were very clear in their intent of this legislation last year and this past session as evidenced by testimony and legislative fact sheets.   Superintendent Huppenthal is the only person who interprets the law to mean give voucher students more money,” says AEA President Andrew F. Morrill. “For the Superintendent to willfully disregard legislative intent and financially advantage private schools over Arizona’s public schools is a betrayal of public education and displays a failure of leadership.”

AEA disputes the Superintendent’s ability to give additional money to the ESA recipients when the legislature rejected an attempt this session to statutorily authorize the additional spending.   AEA also disputes his assertion that his actions won’t negatively impact funding levels for Arizona’s public schools. His actions will drain the general fund by expending more money to fund private school vouchers than the state paid to send that same student to public school. Further, that additional expense wasn’t accounted for in the state budget.

AEA opposes vouchers because they divert taxpayer money from our already struggling public schools to private schools with no accountability.

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