Daily schools update: Sec. of State says not enough signatures filed to block voucher expansion - AZEdNews
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Daily schools update: Sec. of State says not enough signatures filed to block voucher expansion

Save Our Schools Arizona Holds A Press Conference At The State Capitol As They Turn In Signatures On Petitions To Block Universal School Voucher Expansion. Photo Courtesy Save Our Schools Arizona

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Updated Sept. 30, 2022: Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said Monday that Save Our Schools Arizona did not collect enough registered voters’ signatures on petitions to block universal voucher expansion legislation from going into effect.

Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts are vouchers that provide public taxpayer money for students’ private school tuition.

Save Our Schools Arizona said their initial estimate of signatures collected was impacted by the large number of petitions returned in the final days and hours.

“We are so grateful for our volunteers tireless efforts to stop this harmful law designed to dismantle our public education system, Our network will never stop fighting to fully fund out local community schools and halth the privatization of our education system,” Save Our Schools Arizona said in a press release.

The Arizona Department of Education said that the law is now in effect and they will start approving universal expansion applications for the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts.

“This is the day that Arizona families have been waiting for. Our family, and thousands like ours, have seen firsthand the difference that ESAs can make in our kids’ education,” said Jenny Clark, a mother of five and the executive director of Love Your School, which advocates for school choice policies in Arizona. “Now, every Arizona family will have access to an Empowerment Scholarship so they choose the education style that works best for their child.”

Updated Sept. 26, 2022: Education advocates filed petitions with voters’ signatures to block voucher expansion, but opponents say they didn’t turn in enough.

Save Our Schools Arizona said it turned in 141,714 signatures on petitions to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on Friday to stop the expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, also known as vouchers, that provide public taxpayer money for students’ private school tuition.

But volunteers with the Goldwater Institute and the Center for Arizona Policy who examined the 8,125 sheets of petitions with voters’ signatures said Monday they counted 88,866 signatures, much less than the 118,843 signatures required by law to put the initiative on the November 2024 general elections ballot.

The bill expands vouchers to all of Arizona’s 1.1 million students – even those who have never attended a public school – was approved by the Republican majority State Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey just months ago.

“These voters have repudiated the schemes of Gov. Ducey and the Republican led legislature that continually work to defund our public schools in service to special interests,” said Beth Lewis, executive director of Save Our Schools Arizona during the press conference at the Arizona Capitol on Friday, June 23, 2022.

“This historic success represents more volunteer signatures than have ever been collected by a citizen’s referendum,” Lewis said. “And it underscores the unwavering support that Arizona voters have for our community public schools.”

The law was scheduled to take affect just days ago on Saturday, but remains on hold as the Arizona Secretary of State determines if the petitions contain enough registered voters’ valid signatures – 118,843 – to put the issue on the November 2024 general elections ballot for voters to decide.

Goldwater Institute volunteers released a statement today saying that the group didn’t submit enough signatures to put the issue on the November 2024 general elections ballot.

“The preliminary results make it clear: Arizona families have rejected special interests’ attempts to take away their ability to choose the education that best meets their child’s unique needs,” said Victor Riches, president and CEO of the Goldwater Institute. “Families deserve the right to choose the best education option for their children, regardless of zip code, and now, they’ll once again be able to exercise that right by applying for ESAs.”

“Arizona families want choice in education. That is clear by the preliminary low signature count,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy. “If those numbers hold and the measure does not make the ballot, Arizona families can again begin to apply for ESAs to help them choose the best educational environment for their children. ESAs are the end of the one-size-fits-all education that works for some, but not for many others.” 

In response, Save Our Schools Arizona released this statement Monday evening.

The Secretary of State’s Office has not released a statement yet about the number of signatures submitted as they continue to review the petitions submitted.

In 2018, Arizona voters rejected expanding vouchers to up to 30,000 students.

“We did this in 2018, 65% of Arizona voters said no to voucher expansion, but what did our Legislature and Governor do? They did not listen. They said we wanted these vouchers. You can tell by right here and by these signature that we do not want voucher expansion,” said Raquel Mamani, a teacher, mother and Greater Phoenix Coordinator for Save our Schools Arizona.

“We will not stop fighting, ever stop fighting, every step of the way for our public schools and communities because we know that quality public schools for everyone help our economy, help our neighborhoods and help our students that we all want to help,” Mamani said.

Late Monday afternoon, Lewis told AZ Mirror they may end up short of the required number of signatures to put the universal voucher law on the 2024 ballot for voters to decide.

Students learned how food makes it to their lunches and planted flowers after a visit from the Arizona Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom team.

Coconino High School football fans saw Ballet Folklórico de Colores of Flagstaff performed before the game in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic era free meal program has ended, schools are reminding students’ families to apply for the federal free- and reduced-price school meals program and sharing how rising food costs are impacting school lunches.

Some second graders at Kyrene Schools had a special guests visit and read with them today.

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See what teachers new to Deer Valley Unified School District are learning to increase student engagement.

As part of National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, take a look at the new suicide prevention website and helpful resources highlighted by Arizona Department of Health Services.

Avondale Elementary School District celebrates their Copper Trails Dance Team.

The latest Arizona Department of Health Services dashboard update shows confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona are 2,268,158 as of Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, up 3,999 cases from last week, and 31,326 in Arizona have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

In Maricopa County there are 1,424,388 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 290,693 Pima County147,217 Pinal County67,629 in Yuma County63,550 Mohave County, 54,922 in Yavapai County49,546 in Coconino County44,097 in Navajo County36,043 in Cochise County31,197 in Apache County19,780 in Gila County18,504 in Santa Cruz County13,381 in Graham County5,746 in La Paz County and 2,465 in Greenlee County.

Glendale Elementary School District Supt. Cindy Segotta Jones visited with students and teachers in the dual language program.

Nearly twice as many Avondale Elementary School District students received a perfect score on the Arizona’s Academic Standards Assessment.

Roosevelt School District shares how influential Hispanic leaders were honored with schools named after them.

Buckeye Elementary School District gifted teachers take a look at ways to help gifted learners and advocate for their students.

Take a deeper look at how a lack of access to mental health support and resources impacts Arizona students.

See how business and faith leaders are coming together to help Chandler Unified School District students.

As monkeypox continues to spread across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control offers these trips to prevent the spread of the disease.

Creighton School District families learn about social emotional learning, the upcoming override election and what Child Justice Advocates do.

Cartwright School District thanks College Football Playoff Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers for their donation to Frank Borman School teachers.

Many undocumented students do not have protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and an appeals court decision expected soon could determine the future of the program after a Texas judge ruled DACA was illegally created under President Barack Obama’s administration. Current recipients can renew their status at this time, but new applications are not being accepted.

Marana Unified joints Pima ounty’s Walk-N-Roll to School Week encouragint students to get to school by walking, skating or riding and keep active.

See how a new law prohibiting public schools from using any materials that include descriptions of “sexual conduct,” “sexual excitement,” of “ultimate sex acts” will impact what materials students can access at the school library and what is taught in the classroom.

Learn more about applying for financial aid for college and career training after high school.

See what students in Pima JTED’s culinary arts classes are doing.

See how the Get Lit-Words Ignite program gets students engaged with poetry by encouraging students to read poetry of their choosing or write and perform their own poetry.

Green Schoolyards Initiative hosts planting party

Daily schools update: Sec. of State says not enough signatures filed to block voucher expansion Pl-1024x683
Volunteers, teachers and students gather on a late-August afternoon after school to plant a new native pollinator garden on the west side of the new Killip Elementary building. Courtesy of Rachel Gibbons, Arizona Daily Sun.

Updated Sept. 14, 2022: Students and community volunteers participated in a pollinator planting party, working together to plant over 200 native plants.

An amazing show of sportsmanship as opposing high school football teams come together for a moment of silence to honor two students that passed away earlier in the week.

With growing pilot shortages, it is the best time to get into the commercial airline industry. Flight school students are prepared to take advantage of this opportunity.

Counselors worry that violence in schools are becoming normalized, resulting in an increase of threats and scares.

The latest dashboard update shows confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona are 2,264,159 as of Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, up 6,119 cases from last week, and 31,244 in Arizona have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

In Maricopa County there are 1,421,340 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 289,898 Pima County146,915 Pinal County67,559 in Yuma County63,455 Mohave County, 54,789 in Yavapai County49,418 in Coconino County43,986 in Navajo County35,943 in Cochise County31,066 in Apache County19,736 in Gila County18,489 in Santa Cruz County13,368 in Graham County5,741 in La Paz County and 2,456 in Greenlee County.

Plans to open a border studies and outreach center, meant for the University of Arizona, are unclear.

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Once again, Arizona State University has been named number one in innovation, for the eighth consecutive year.

A new ride share app has been created, giving students in Chandler a free way to get to school.

Arizona Teacher Residency program is aiming to fix the shortage of teachers in Arizona, and it might be working.

Students honor first responders & service members on 21st anniversary of 9/11

Daily schools update: Sec. of State says not enough signatures filed to block voucher expansion Veteran-honored-by-students-1024x576
Desert Harbor Elementary students recognized first responders and service members during their annual Walk of Honor to thank people who stepped up to help others on 9/11. Photo courtesy Peoria Unified School District

Updated Monday, Sept. 12, 2022: Students around the state learned about and honored first responders and service members on the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Chandler Unified School District students hosted events on Sept. 9 in honor of Patriot Day including flag raising ceremonies, patriotic song singalongs and speeches describing the historical signifigance of Sept. 11. More events were planned for Monday.

Carlson Elementary and Andersen Elementary honored visitors from Chandler Fire Department, Chandler Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Students were able to meet first responders, explore their vehicles, and ask questions. 

Chandler Unified high schools and junior high schools discussed September 11, 2001, in social studies classes and commemorated Patriot Day in additional ways. Basha High School’s AFJROTC honored the 21st anniversary of 9/11 at exactly 6:37 a.m. in remembrance of the time the Pentagon was attacked. 

Bogle Junior High School’s student council asked students and staff to submit pictures of friends and family members who served in the military. The photos with stories are on display in the windows of the media center. 

While students did better on state assessments during the 2020 to 2021 school year, many still failed to pass the English and math. Since students took a new exam, Arizona’s Academic Standards Assessment, for the first time last spring, there’s no good way to compare results from the previous school year to the latest data from the 2021 to 2022 school year.

Students at Central High School worked from home today after an incident on campus led to a lockdown on Friday and students’ families expressed their concerns at a meeting after the incident.

The latest dashboard update shows confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona are 2,258,040 as of Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, up 3,666 cases from last week, and 31,162 in Arizona have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

In Maricopa County there are 1,417,741 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 288,749 Pima County146,416 Pinal County67,428 in Yuma County63,477 Mohave County, 524,629 in Yavapai County49,296 in Coconino County43,871 in Navajo County35,842 in Cochise County30,895 in Apache County19,687 in Gila County18,466 in Santa Cruz County13,351 in Graham County5,739 in La Paz County and 2,453 in Greenlee County.

Dysart Schools students recently saw a production of Junie B. Jones the Musical thanks to the late author’s husband who also gave each student a book.

Find out more about the Flinn Scholarship and how to apply.

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See how choices can help children engage and show mastery of what they’re learning.

Find out how a Northern Arizona University student’s research can change how mental health care providers and patients are treated in Ghana.

Arizona State University’s nursing program is ranked 29th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

San Luis teacher in the running for National History Teacher of the Year!

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control shares these resources to highlight the role everyone plays in preventing suicide during Suicide Prevention Month.

See what students are learning at Jasinski School in Buckeye Elementary School District.

Looking for a preschool in the Flagstaff area? Check this out.

Earlier coverage


August 1 – August 31: Daily schools update: When student loan debt forgiveness application launches

July 1 – July 31: Daily schools update: How to save money on back-to-school shopping

June 1 – June 30Schools update: ASU professor shares how supply chain issues impact Independence Day fireworks shows

May 3 – May 31: Schools update: How to discuss traumatic events with kids

April 4 – April 30: Daily schools update: Chinle principal wins Milken Educator Award

March 1- March 30: Daily schools update: An event-filled weekend of school arts festivals and a CTE competition

Feb.2, 2022 – Feb. 28:  Daily schools update: College in Ukraine powered by ASU would have welcomed students next month

Jan. 13, 2022 – Feb. 1: Daily schools update: Students learn more about Year of the Tiger during Lunar New Year


Dec. 20, 2021 – Jan. 12, 2022Daily schools update: AZ doctors urge schools to require masks as COVID surges

Nov. 23, 2021 – Dec. 17, 2021: Daily schools update: Tolleson Union uses grant to launch Uber-like ride share service for students

Nov. 9, 2021 – Nov. 22, 2021: Daily schools update: Education Advocates get Tax Referendum on 2022 Ballot

Oct. 27, 2021 – Nov. 8, 2021: Daily schools update: Mesa Mother Relieved to get her Young Child Vaccinated

Oct. 12- Oct. 25, 2021Daily schools update: Supply chain issues cause problems for Arizona school cafeterias

Sept. 27 – Oct. 11, 2021Daily Schools Update: How will children becoming eligible for COVID-19 vaccine change schools’ prevention measures?

Sept. 14 – Sept. 27, 2021Daily schools update: Students decision to mask up may have stopped a classroom COVID-19 outbreak

Aug. 24 to Sept. 1, 2021: Daily schools update: COVID-19 outbreaks rise among students in Maricopa County

Aug. 17 to Aug. 23, 2021: Daily schools update: FDA approves Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

Aug. 3 to Aug. 16, 2021: Daily schools update: Arizona school mask mandates receive presidential praise

July 19 to Aug. 2, 2021Daily schools update: Teens struggle with mental health as school starts

June 20 to July 14, 2021Daily schools update: Arizona lawmakers ban mask requirements in schools

June 14 to June 17, 2021Tempe Union’s board approves comprehensive mental health policy

June 1 to June 11, 2021It’s time to get students enrolled in school for fall & ready for in-person classes

May 17 to May 28, 2021A year after George Floyd’s murder, a look at empathy, equity, what’s changed & what hasn’t

May 10 to May 14, 2021Students ready for graduation ceremonies

May 4 to May 6, 2021Amendment to bill would prohibit teachers from discussing controversial policy & social issues not essential to learning objectives

April 28 to May 3, 2021Thank a teacher during Teacher Appreciation Week for all they do for students

April 21 to April 27, 2021: 3 years after Red for Ed there’s much left to do

April 12 to April 20, 2021: How & why teachers discuss trial with students; Schools keep masks after Gov. rescinds mandate

March 29 to April 9, 2021Children, young teens may be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine before next school year

March 15 to March 26Masks are still required in all schools; Video: Dr. Christ’s news conference today

Feb. 24 to March 11, 2021: COVID-19 aid funds will help AZ students, families & schools

Feb. 11 to Feb. 23U.S. Dept of Ed: Students must take standardized tests, but there’s flexiblity on when & how

Feb. 2 to Feb. 9Video: Supt. Hoffman gives State of Special Education address

Jan. 21 to Feb. 1Black History Mural Month Project to highlight pioneers of the Black community launches in Phoenix

Jan. 10 – Jan 20How students engage with Inauguration Day


Dec. 21, 2020 to Jan 8, 2021Teachers help students deal with attacks on Congress, Capitol

Nov. 30 – Dec. 16Watch it now: Dr. Christ asks people to avoid holiday gatherings with people they do not live with

Nov. 18 – 25COVID-19 cases rise before Thanksgiving adding to school and hospital leaders’ concerns

Nov. 16: More schools return to online learning as COVID-19 cases rise

Nov. 2 – 13: $19 M grant would help schools with teacher development, stipends, reading & math curriculum, summer ed resources and more

Oct. 20 to Oct. 30: AZDHS amends COVID-19 school benchmarks

Oct. 7 – Oct. 19What are teachers doing ahead of elections to support students afterwards

Aug. 25 – Sept. 8: Parents voice concern about online class size; school nurses prepare for students

Aug. 12 – Aug. 24: Students, teachers affected by Zoom outage

July 30 – Aug. 11Parent organizes co-op for learners; group rallies for in-person school days after benchmarks release

July 13- July 30: Teachers prepare for digital learning and back to school

June 29 – July 12Video: Gov. says ‘Goal is to get children back to school when it’s safe;’ Schools lay out learning models

June 29: Video: Gov. delays in-person classes to Aug. 17 due to rise in COVID-19

June 15 – June 29: Video: Gov. pauses re-opening of some businesses as COVID-19 cases rise

June 24: Plan provides more funding, flexible instruction as schools re-open

May 26 – June 12: Increase in COVID-19 cases marks a new daily high

May 20 – 25: AZ Dept. of Ed releases COVID-19 guidance to schools for summer programs, back to school

May 11 – 19: Arizonans consider workplace safety, what back to school will look like amid COVID-19

April 26 – May 10: Stores re-open, COVID-19 testing blitz resumes on Saturday

April 8 – 25You can get tested now if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19

March 12 – April 7, 2020Coronavirus response: Cases rise; AZ Day of Giving