I write in response to the guest commentary of Pam Kirby “ESA expansion is a victory for parents, students,” to point out crucial facts missing from her commentary.
The first fact is the fact that in 2018 Arizona voters specifically voted against just such an ESA expansion by an overwhelming 30-point margin of 65% against the expansion to only 30% in favor. Such a public attack on the will of the Arizona voters by the Republican-controlled Arizona state legislature is an attack on democracy itself that should trouble voters of all political viewpoints who believe in the democratic principles our country was founded on.
Arizona has the largest class size in the country and one of the lowest spending levels on education in the country because the Republican-controlled legislature continues to chronically underfund public education in Arizona.
In 2017, teachers were forced to strike to highlight the chronic underfunding of schools and low pay for teachers. Teachers continue to have to pay for classroom supplies out of their own salaries. This is an outrage. Teacher standards are continuously being lowered because teachers in Arizona continue to leave in droves because the salaries are among the lowest in the country. Gov. Ducey recently lowered the standard again to someone only having to be in college and not have to have a degree. This is unacceptable.
The latest Republican school voucher scheme will take $1 billion away from an already underfunded Arizona public school system and give that badly needed money to unregulated charter schools and private religious schools whose views not everyone agrees with and whose education results aren’t much better than the underfunded Arizona public schools.
This same Republican-controlled legislature wants to censor the teaching of U.S. history by omitting the ugly truth about slavery and about how for too long, women were the property of their husbands with no rights. This censorship of history sounds like Putin’s effort to hide the truth from the Russian people about his unjust war in Ukraine to me. What’s really happening here is an effort by the Republican-controlled legislature to undermine the public schools in an effort to privatize public education which would directly violate the U.S. constitution.
I also take issue with Ms. Kirby’s use of the word “choice.” It’s important to remember that while the Republican-controlled legislature claims to support the issue of parental “choice” in schools, they clearly oppose the right of all women, including in the extreme cases of rape and incest, to control their own bodies and decide whether or not they have the financial resources and want to become parents in the first place. I call this blatant and egregious hypocrisy.
In conclusion, I do agree with Ms. Kirby that actions do speak louder than words. It’s abundantly clear that the actions of the Republican-controlled Arizona state legislature have turned the Republican Party into the anti-democracy, pro-forced birth, pro-censorship party.