Governor Doug Ducey speaking with attendees at the 2022 Legislative Forecast Luncheon hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. [PHOTO CRED: Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]
Democrats in Arizona have failed in their attempt to dismantle a school choice program in Arizona.
Opponents of the program that provides funds to students to attend schools outside of the public school system have failed to gain enough signature to place the issue on the November ballot, The Daily Caller reports.
The failure was announced by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
Hobbs revealed that Save Our Schools Arizona, a public school advocacy organization, was unable to collect the required 118,823 signatures.
The Caller reports:
“The Secretary of State’s office has reviewed the petitions our campaign turned in and has determined we fell short of the minimum signature threshold required to stop universal voucher expansion,” Save Our Schools said in a statement. “Though our estimated signature count was much higher, the discrepancy was influenced by several factors, including the incredibly high volume of returns of petitions in the final week, days and hours of the campaign.”
Despite turning in more than 140,000 signatures, the effort by Save Our Schools failed because there were not enough legal and completed signatures, Hobb’s statement said.
Arizona’s new school choice program is the widest in the nation, as 1.1 million students are now eligible for vouchers to attend any private and charter school of their choosing. Approximately 100,000 students being homeschooled or attending private institutions can apply to receive vouchers of $7,000 to put towards their education.
Due to the high volume of applicants for the school vouchers, the deadline to apply has been extended to Oct. 15, according to the Arizona Department of Education’s website.
Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey said in July about the program, “This is a monumental moment for all of Arizona’s students. Our kids will no longer be locked in under-performing schools. Today, we’re unlocking a whole new world of opportunity for them and their parents… With this legislation, Arizona cements itself as the top state for school choice and as the first state in the nation to offer all families the option to choose the school setting that works best for them.”
School issues have come to the forefront in elections recently with Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) Virginia winning in a state that saw schools become the battleground.