#WeChoose

#WeChoose Fully Funded Public Schools,  NOT the “Illusion of School Choice” 

Voices for Education joins Journey for Justice and organizations across the country to resist the dismantling of public education and instead protect and strengthen our public schools. The #WeChoose campaign is a declaration from hundreds of thousands of parents and students in cities across the United States with a clear, yet profound message – we refute and resist corporate education policies that are inflicted upon our children without our voice.

The failure of previous administrations to respect the voices of all Americans has set the tone for this perilous moment that we are in now. We reject zero tolerance policies that criminalize our children. We reject mediocre corporate education interventions that are only accepted because of the race of the children served. We Choose equity. Voices for Education joins with Journey for Justice and local coalitions and alliances across the US to build the power to realize this vision.

#WeChoose:

    1.  The Creation Sustainable Community Schools – We want strong neighborhood schools with a curriculum that is engaging, relevant and rigorous; supports for high quality teaching and not high stakes testing; wraparound supports for every child; student centered school climates; the end to zero tolerance policies in schools and transformative parent and community engagement. We join with Journey for Justice and the #WeChoose campaign to make this a reality.
    2. A Moratorium on School Privatization –80% of Arizona K-12 students attend public school. About 15% attend charter schools, 5% commercial and parochial, and less than 1% are home-schooled. But our Legislature and Governor Ducey continue to funnel money to for-profit charters, private, corporate and home schooled students. Only 1 in 5 charter schools outperforms traditional public schools. The overwhelming majority perform the same or worse than public schools. It is a failed experiment that harms children. Privatizers say they want to give parents a choice, but parents have already chosen-Public Schools.Arizona’s vouchers, known as Empowerment Scholarship Accounts are draining funds that should be going to public schools. In the spring of 2017 the State Legislature and Governor Ducey expanded this voucher program. Teachers and parents united in protest and under the leadership of Arizona SOS, handed in over 70,000 signatures, enough to place it on the ballot in 2018.
    3. A moratorium on tax credits. President Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Governor Doug Ducey all support using taxpayer money to support education for the few. Arizona loses money to special interests ever year through tax credits. Tax credits are NOT tax deductions. They are a dollar for dollar tax credit for money already owed in taxes. If you hear of a company taking an $8 million tax credit for private schools, that is not generosity-that is $8 million dollars the company owes that it doesn’t have to pay. It comes right out of the general fund-so public education is the big loser. Then the special interest tax credits—benefit everything from non-Arizonans who keep their planes here to businesses that teach mixed martial arts. For the 2015/16 tax year special interest tax credits totaled $13,735,491,517. That’s 13 billion dollars that didn’t go into our public schools. Imagine the benefit to schools-smaller classes, diverse curriculum with art, music, science labs and social studies, well-paid certified, professional teachers, in every classroom and schools that are well maintained and not crumbling around students.
      Here’s how private and public school tax credits work: an individual can take a $200 tax credit for a public school, but take a $1,087.00 tax credit for a private school.

      Private School Tax Credits  5% of Students!!
      113,416 tax credit takers $87,480,205!!  5% of Arizona Students!!??
      Public Schools Tax Credits
      288,087   tax credit takers $50,991,000  95% of Arizona   students-WHAT?
    4. Stop Using Standardized Tests in Public Schools to evaluate students and teachers. It wastes valuable teaching time. Even though the best school systems use multiple assessments to gauge student progress and needs, Arizona pushes standardized tests for our students. Arizona even has a high-stakes exit exam for 3rd graders! Research shows that standardized tests tell us one thing: the income and education level of the parents. #WeChoose to fight penalizing 8 year-olds for being poor.
    5.  Equity – The U.S. ranks 19th in the world in education; however when you remove the effects of poverty we sky-rocket to 2nd. It’s not an achievement gap it’s an advantage gap. We need to invest additional funds in proven strategies for narrowing the gap in low-income schools. Researched based strategies such as having a highly qualified teacher, wrap around services and reducing class sizes in K-3rd grade are proven strategies for narrowing the advantage gap.Reducing class sizes to 18 and under in K-3rd grade narrows the advantage gap, students in smaller classes are more likely to graduate from high school, less likely to get arrested and more likely to take the SAT/ACTs-a sign they were headed to college.

      Economists looked at adults who had been part of the largest class size reduction project in the US 20 years earlier and found not only were students graduating from high school and college but more likely to go into higher paying fields, such as STEM careers.

    6. Fully Fund Public Education as required by the Arizona Constitution
      “The revenue for the maintenance of the respective state educational institutions shall be derived from the investment of the proceeds of the sale, and from the rental of such lands as have been set aside by the enabling act approved June 20, 1910, or other legislative enactment of the United States, for the use and benefit of the respective state educational institutions. In addition to such income the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.”

 

#WeChoose Equity not the “illusion of choice.”