Attempt to Derail Arizona’s Universal Education Savings Account Program Fails

According to the Secretary of State's office, the 118,823 signature minimum won't be met
Closeup of Stop Sign on School Bus
Photo: Jill Rose/Pixabay

A grassroots signature-gathering effort to put Arizona’s new universal education savings account on the 2024 ballot has officially failed.

“We have informed the SOS committee that the referendum will not qualify for the 2024 General Election Ballot,” Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs said in a Friday morning statement. “While the statutorily required review continues, our office has inspected enough petitions & signatures to confirm that the 118,823 signature minimum will not be met.”

The Secretary of State’s office had previously communicated to Chalkboard Review staff that no official designation would be made until they were certain of the outcome.

According to the statement, the Save our Schools PAC filed an estimated 10,200 petition sheets containing nearly 142,000 signatures. However, the standard signature verification process confirmed that the PAC will fail to meet the constitutionally-mandated minimum of 118,823 signatures.

“Parent power defeated ‘Save Our Schools’ to save the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) expansion that SOS itself admitted ‘benefits all students,’” said Jason Bedrick, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He also added that the day now represents a victory for Arizona families. As of late June, nearly 12,000 Arizona families have already signed up for education savings accounts.

Additionally, EdChoice’s Morning Consult poll found that 66% of Arizona adults (and 75% of school parents) support education savings accounts.

In a statement released by the Save Our Schools PAC, the group said the “voucher scheme” has gone into effect despite a “herculean effort to stop it in its tracks.”

“Our grassroots campaign relied on hand counts and volunteer hours, in stark contrast to deep-pocketed special interests like the Goldwater Institute who use sophisticated software to further their goal of dismantling public education in Arizona,” the PAC, whose volunteers have been accused of lying to voters about what education savings accounts actually do, said in the statement.

“Our network will never stop fighting to fully fund our local community schools and halt the privatization of our education system. For now, we are dedicating every ounce of energy to elected pro-public school candidates up and down the ballot this November to stop these relentless attacks on our public schools and communities,” the statement continued.

Chalkboard Review staff are awaiting further comment from Save our Schools at this time.

Garion Frankel
Garion Frankel is a graduate student at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service with a concentration in education policy and management. He is a Young Voices contributor, and Chalkboard Review’s breaking news reporter.

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