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Failure to cap enrollment in Arizona’s rapidly expanding universal school voucher program, known officially as Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, was a sticking point for many Democrats, who said the vouchers threatened to bankrupt the state.

The Arizona Legislature passed an almost $18 billion budget Wednesday, one that Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs negotiated with Republican leaders in the House and Senate - but Democrats excoriated Hobbs for her failure to better negotiate. Read more»

The budget has not just upset ​​Democratic lawmakers but also high-profile Democrats, including Attorney General Kris Mayes.

A budget deal brokered between Republicans and Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs made its way out of the Arizona Senate in the early morning hours Wednesday, though Democratic lawmakers continued to accuse Republicans of attempting to speed through the budgeting process. Read more»

Gov. Katie Hobbs laughs during a press conference on April 12, outlining her accomplishments over her first 100 days in office.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and Republican lawmakers have negotiated a budget, with a slew of budget bills filed Monday, but Democratic lawmakers and even the Arizona Attorney General are pushing back. Read more»

Tajiri Freedom, the principal of New Gains Academy, marches around the Arizona State Capitol building in support of the Empowerment Scholarship Account Program in Phoenix. on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.

Parents, children and educators on Wednesday marched to the state Capitol to support an education voucher program that Gov. Katie Hobbs has said she wants to dismantle. Read more»

Public education has become a major cause for the GOP, mainly in Republican-controlled state legislatures and at local school board meetings at which conservatives target books, often with themes or characters centering on LGBTQ individuals or people of color.

U.S. House Republicans laid the groundwork for some top priorities that examined public funding for charter schools and voucher programs, as well as increasing parents’ oversight of school curriculum, and barring many transgender athletes from competing in school sports. Read more»

Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne urged lawmakers to lift the cap, warning that an already dire teacher shortage would be worsened if schools are forced to lay off staff towards the end of the year. 

Lawmakers on Wednesday waived a school spending limit that would have forced schools to cut $1.4 billion from their budgets next month, amid vehement resistance from some Republicans. Read more»

More than 30,000 students have applied for empowerment scholarship accounts under Arizona’s newly expanded program, which makes the vouchers available to anyone, regardless of need, in exchange for not attending a public school in the state. The program pays families up to $6,500 per pupil out of general education funds, which public school advocates fear could be a $200 million hit to state school funding.

Arizona parents have flocked to apply for the state’s new universal Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, which let any family apply for state funds to pay for their child’s schooling, regardless of need. Read more»

Tom Horne at a debate for Republican candidates for superintendent of public instruction.

Republican Tom Horne will be Arizona’s new superintendent of public instruction, emerging victorious from a contest with Democratic incumbent Kathy Hoffman that saw the lead change hands several times since Election Day. Read more»

Revamping teaching approaches can’t fix some of the biggest frustrations many teachers have about their profession, such as low pay, but early results from Mesa show team teaching may be helping to reverse low morale.

Five years ago, Arizona school leaders piloted a classroom model known as team teaching - where teachers share large groups of students of up to 100 or more - as administrators hoped to fill staffing gaps and boost teacher morale and retention, and the gamble could pay off. Read more»

Members of Save Our Schools chant during a news conference on the Capitol grounds in Phoenix Sept. 23, 2022, after the group claimed it collected 141,714 signatures from voters who want to see the expansion of the state’s school voucher program put to a voter referendum.

Public school advocates did not collect enough signatures to block universal school vouchers and force a public vote in 2024, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, and the Arizona Department of Education announced that it would begin to approve voucher applications. Read more»

A supporter signs the Save Our Schools Arizona petition that would stall the expansion of the state’s empowerment scholarship accounts – school vouchers – and put the issue on the 2024 ballot. Petition organizers now say they may have fallen short of their goal.

Officials with Save Our Schools Arizona, who said Friday that they turned in thousands more signatures than needed to force a vote on an expansion of Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, conceded this week that they “definitely got the numbers wrong.” Read more»

Beth Lewis, director of Save Our Schools speaks during a news conference on the Arizona Capitol grounds on Sept. 23.

The effort to block school vouchers and let Arizona voters decide the program’s fate in 2024 is likely short of the number of signatures required to refer the new law to the ballot - a stark reversal to Friday's declaration by Save Our Schools Arizona, the group behind the petition drive. Read more»

Beth Lewis, executive director of Save Our Schools Arizona, speaks during a news conference on the Capitol grounds on Sept. 23, 2022, after her group collected 141,714 signatures from voters who want to see the expansion of the state’s school voucher program put to a voter referendum.

Teachers and public school advocates on Friday submitted nearly 142,000 petition signatures to block the new universal school voucher program that was set to go into effect on Friday and let voters decide its fate in 2024. Read more»

Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake.

Both Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and her Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs have released detailed education policy plans that would affect the more than 1.1 million children who attend public schools in Arizona. Read more»

A volunteer collects signatures in Phoenix on Wednesday for the Save Our Schools Arizona petition that would stall the expansion of the state's empowerment scholarship accounts - school vouchers - and put the issue on the 2024 ballot.

Save Our Schools Arizona is in the home stretch of its push to collect at least 118,823 signatures to put the scholarship program on the ballot in 2024, delaying implementation of the law, currently scheduled to take effect Saturday. Read more»

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