A recent attempt to halt the state’s new expansive school choice expansion by the teacher’s unions of the state seems to have fallen through and outright failed.
One anti-school choice group that has been recently backed by the teacher’s unions, Save Our Schools Arizona, has been attempting to set in place a ballot referendum concerning the newly expanded school choice program from the state, but it seems as though their efforts have been for not as they drastically failed to find the requisite support via petition signatures.
This past Friday, Save Our Schools made the claim that it had managed to get 141,715 signatures, which sits well above the needed 118,823 valid signatures required to kick off a ballot referendum regarding Arizona’s school choice expansion. as reported by the Arizona Mirror. The mandate threshold of signatures is equal to 5% of the overall votes cast in the last gubernatorial election for the state.
A report from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office stated, despite the claims made by the group, that the organization only filed a total of 8,175 total petition sheets, reported the AZ Mirror. Considering that number submitted, the group would have needed to perfectly fill out every single line of every single sheet with signatures to even come close to the number of signatures needed to cross the threshold. In order to hit the number of signatures that the group claimed to have gotten, they would have had to fill out every sheet and overflow the entirety of every single sheet with additional signatures.
Upon inspection, quite a few of the sheets were not even close to being full, reported school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis.
The Goldwater Institute and Center for Arizona Policy, a pair of think tanks that sit as a pro-school choice, managed to calculate that the group had actually only managed to gather roughly 89,000 signatures for the filing.
“I think we will end up short, yes,” stated Beth Lewis.
The finalized results are planned to be unveiled this coming October in the wake of the office of the Secretary of State reviewing the signatures.
The school voucher program for the state expanded over this past summer. Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ) officially signed a bill back in July that lets every student within the state get a taxpayer-funded Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) in order to assist in paying for their education at a private school, which equates to almost $6,500 per child for grades 1-12.
Over the course of the first two weeks of the new online portal made to take ESA applications going live, the state was slammed with roughly 6,800 total applications for the vouchers. Well over a million students throughout the k-12 public school program will be eligible for the ESA account if the expansion goes live. This number is a spike from the current 11,000 students previously eligible, as reported by the Goldwater Institute.