Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos held a roundtable on “education freedom” with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) yesterday at the ALEC States and Nation Policy Summit to promote her controversial and costly Education Freedom Scholarships proposal.
The roundtable included: Arizona Senate President and ALEC board member Karen Fann (R), Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R), Cathi Herrod, President of Center of Arizona Policy, Jake Logan of the AZ Charter Association, Laura Ciscomani, Development Director of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, and others. The roundtable did not appear to include any public school teachers.
The roundtable was not included in ALEC’s public agenda for the meeting, and coincidently occurred less than 24 hours after protestors, many of whom were teachers, gathered for a protest against ALEC on the streets outside the four-star Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale among a massive police presence with helicopters flying overhead.
DeVos heaped praise on Arizona’s school system at the event, saying, “Arizona is really a leader in giving parents and students the kind of freedom that they need to find their right fit for education. And I’m so grateful for the example that you are setting here,” the Arizona Republic reported.
But Arizona is not a great example when it comes to school performance. The state consistently ranks among the bottom among all states in opportunities and performance and was recently named the worst state to teach in.
And later in the afternoon, DeVos told a larger group of attendees, “Arizonans are loving their ESAs,” or Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. But voters rejected a ballot measure to expand the state’s voucher system by a 65-35 percent margin in 2018, so DeVos appears to be misinformed.
Despite that setback, Arizona lawmakers are attempting to pass a bill which would allow families to use ESA funds for out-of-state private schools.
The bill arose after it was revealed that children on a Navajo reservation illegally used ESAs to pay for out-of-state schools following the advice of DeVos’s American Federation for Children.
“It appears they actively recruited Native American families into unknowingly breaking the law (by using ESA at an out-of-state school) and now that the state has discovered the problem, instead of AFC admitting their role and helping the families use existing, legal solutions, they’re doubling down on exploiting them in order to try and rewrite the law,” Dawn Penich-Thacker, spokeswoman for Save Our Schools, told the Arizona Republic.
DeVos’s Education Freedom Scholarships proposal has been generated controversy as well since it was introduced.
“Despite what some may try to tell you…Education Freedom Scholarships are privately funded and do not take any money from public schools,” DeVos tweeted in April. The Washington Post awarded this statement “Three Pinocchios” because, “Federal taxpayers may not be funding these scholarships directly, but they would be footing up to $5 billion of the cost in lost revenue from the [program’s] new tax credits. That means forgoing revenue that could have been used on building roads or paying teacher salaries.”
DeVos clashed with Democrats in a hearing at the Capital on the proposal, with Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge calling “the program a ‘shell game’ that benefits some children at the expense of those in the public school system.”
It took me 16 months after losing my 16 yr old who was left to sit at home and educate himself having been abused by a public school as the state set up the public school to absolutely fail. They fail to regulate any charter schools. Have eliminated the term at risk kids and retermed it “at risk” meaning only at risk of not graduating. The school he was “assigned to ” by an in district school had changed its “mission statement” and no longer served these kids.
Instead of being honest and allowing school choice they railroaded us with completely inappropriate discipline ( to meet a restructuring goal), decieved us that they didnt have the services they were required to have by the state but THEN the state through a nasty mechanism put them in this position.
My child represented aprox 5500 in “back pack funding.” He was left home to teach himself, me a single parent to completely teach him. %04 disregarded absolutely NO CONCERN for him his future. He died in despair in his room during the school day at 16.
they destroyed his life. No juvinile record nothing. We were not even given the info we needed to walk away. It took me 2 years and 4 months after he passed away and I could look back to figure out what happened. I am outraged.
Of course 180 to file a suit in AZ. and besides with
DeVos there its pointless.
This world did not have a place for my child.
thank God heaven does.
Sh*tzy Devos, you mean. CALL this un-American p.o.s. EXACTLY what she is. She HATES this country and has NO business in any office. NONE. She’s a disgrace, garbage, a putz.
Robert Marshall Thomson
I’ve heard from an ex-girlfriend who lives in AZ that the voters in AZ are fed up with the r-CONS. IMO, charter schools are just an invitation to legally steal public funds. An audit of a charter school in a northern state a couple of years ago found that there were no teaching supplies provided by the company running that charter school, they were pocketing the funds.
Anna "Ann" Lou Herzer, M. A.
I am a retired educator who lives in Arizona. I have objected to “educational restructuring” since its inception. The “choice”- so called- misleads the people into thinking no strings “from the government” will be attached. No government regardless the level can give public tax funds without accountability. I’m amazed that DeVos’s nose has not fallen off from her fabricated stories, or even worse ignorance.
Charter schools and vouchers i. e. scholarships are designed to take all children into the unconstitutional system. Both are in violation of Arizona’s Constitution, but they at allow the US Secretary of Education to “waive” the laws, rules and regulations to implement the old Soviet system of training children for the planned workforce. These manipulated systems of privatizing public education destroy school boards, thereby, destroying representative government!
Charter schools allow foreign governments, for example China, to invest in our “so called public schools”. Very little is public with the “choice” plan, Some of the CNP membership is one the web. This was accomplished, apparently by individuals who were concerned with this private, secret group of well known persons.
ALEC is one of the “right wing” splinter groups of the secret Council for National Policy. The Heritage Foundation is a major “tank-tank” like ALEC whose leadership started with CNP membership. I can not think of one major right wing, so called conservative organization that is not a splinter group of the CNP.
The great danger of hooking both private, religious and homes schools into the “choice” agenda is it threatens the very roots of our freedom! Also, groups like ALEC meet behind closed doors and propose legislation that is promoted by legislators and governors who are members of these groups. The average citizen is left out of participation by selective and secret membership.