Linda Thomas is the school board president of a small rural district in Arizona. She is a strong advocate for public education as a public responsibility.

In this post, she reminds us that 85% of children in Arizona attend public schools despite the state ‘s trepidation as the “wild west” of charters.

She also describes the legislsture’s devious efforts to expand vouchers.

She writes:

“When vouchers (aka Empowerment Scholarship Accounts) were first introduced in 2011, only children with disabilities were eligible. That has now expanded to include children: who’s parent’s are in the armed forces, are a ward of the juvenile court, who attend a school or district assigned a D or F grade, are eligible to attend kindergarten, and who received a School Tuition Organization scholarship. This session, expansion efforts include those whose siblings receive ESAs, all first responder’s children and (HB 2291) children currently eligible for free or reduced lunch percent. HB 2291 also seeks to further raise the income threshold of those who qualify by 15 percent ever year going forward.

“ESA funds can be used for curriculum, testing, private school tuition, tutors, special needs services or therapies, or even seed money for college. The program however, requires parents to waive their child’s right to a public education…a right that is guaranteed under the state constitution, in order to receive the benefits.”

School choice, she says, is a smokescreen. The real goal is to transfer public funds to private hands. The one risk to voucher advocates is attaching any form of accountability. They want the money, no strings attached.