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World News | Arizona OKs Biggest US School Voucher Plan, Faces Challenge

PHOENIX, July 8 (AP) – Republican Gov. Doug Dussey on Thursday signed a massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher system, even as he faces efforts promised by public school lawyers to block the bill and remove it during voters’ November election. .

The Ducey-signed extension will now allow every parent in Arizona to take public money sent to the K-12 public school system and use it to pay for their children’s private school tuition or other tuition.

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Arizona already has the widest education option in the country and will have the most comprehensive voucher system if the bill goes into effect.

An estimated 60,000 private students and about 38,000 homeschools will be eligible to receive up to $ 7,000 per year immediately, although a small number currently receive vouchers. All 1.1 million students attending traditional district and charter schools will receive money to leave their public schools and go to private schools. About one-third have already qualified, but only 12,000 students across the state now use the system.

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Ducey has been the “School Choice” champion during her eight years in office. He signed a public voucher extension in 2017 called the Enrollment Caps mentioned in a grassroots group ballot called Save Our Schools Arizona.

Voters rejected the expansion by a 2-to-1 vote in the 2018 election, but advocates of what is officially called the “Empowerment Scholarship Account” went ahead with the new expansion anyway. The universal voucher bill was passed in support of a majority of Republican lawmakers in the legislature that ended early June 25.

Beth Lewis, executive director of Save Our Schools Arizona, said her group would immediately file the bill for reference under a provision in the Arizona Constitution that allows opponents of the new law to collect 5% of eligible voter signatures and block it until the next general. Selection

In this case, they need to collect about 119,000 valid signatures and advocates usually add 25% cushions. They have to collect them and submit them to the Secretary of State by the end of September so that the law does not take effect and it is put to the November ballot.

“I believe we will be able to refer HB2853,” Lewis said in an interview. “Our network of volunteers across the state is pumped up and ready.”

Lewis and other public school advocates say vouchers already take money from the less meaningful public school system, when advocates announce the program as a way to allow parents to choose the best education for their children.

Lewis said the price tag of the new voucher law added this year could snatch more than new school funding lawmakers, which is close to চল 1 billion in ongoing and one-time cash.

“In a nutshell, this bill would bring in over 1 1 billion per year from public schools to responsible private academies, micro-schools and homeschools,” Lewis said. “And we just can’t let that happen.”

Many students in the voucher program are disabled. Adding current private and home-school students, he said anywhere between $ 400 million and $ 600 million would “go out the window overnight with automatic qualification on September 26.”

Legislative budget analysts say the cost of the two-year expansion is much lower, at $ 125 million, but acknowledge that the figures are highly speculative and based on new spending, not public school losses. Many private school students receive money from tax credit programs, but those payments are much lower than vouchers, so many may change.

Dusi has been talking about the expansion on social media for the past two weeks and mentioned it in conservative news outlets in a press release announcing the signing of the bill.

Ducie called the signing a “memorable moment for all Arizona students. Our kids will no longer be stuck in a low-performing school.”

However, most of those who are performing low-income are in low-income areas, with very little access to private schools and whose parents rely on local public schools, which have been underfunded year after year.

He made no mention of the irresistible rejection of the 2017 expansion or the expected new challenges. Instead, he spoke of Arizona’s leadership in private school options.

“Through this law, Arizona offers itself the option of choosing the school setting that works best for them as the top state for school choice and the first state in the country for all families.”

There is no accountability provision in the voucher law like the test that some Republicans wanted. There is also limited oversight of disbursed funds.

The program only applies to students with disabilities when it began in 2011 but has expanded extensively over the years to cover many more, including those living in American Indian reservations, joining low-performing public schools and other groups.

According to the Arizona Department of Education, about 12,000 current students were awarded $ 196 million in the just-concluded school year. Of that, about মিল 20 million has not yet been disbursed.

Parents receive 90% of the state funds that usually go to their local public school to be used for private school tuition and other education expenses. Students with disabilities can receive up to $ 40,000 for special therapy. (AP)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, most recent staff may not change or edit the content body)

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