At the Kiwanis Candidate Forum on May 15th, 2018, Paul Cunningham asked, “I think education is a critical issue for the state. Over the last many years, we have failed to improve it, even though we do put more money into it. And any ideas on how improve it, without more cost to the taxpayers, has not gained any traction. I certainly agree that we need to return more control to local communities. I agree that we need to give teachers more time to teach. We certainly are way behind with our educational performance. I would like to ask each of you, if you would, in fact, support a voucher system that would really return the control of education back to the parents.”
Chandler said: “I would not support that. I think that it undermines public education in the state and the country. I am a strong proponent of public education so that all students can have access to quality education, and we should be focused on that. I am a beneficiary of strong public education, and as a result, went to the finest colleges and graduate schools in the Country. Instead of privatizing public education, we should think about public education.”
Sheehey said: “I support innovation in education. For example, there a big effort right now…for a charter middle school that is expected to open here soon…My nephew did well here, but his single best experience was being part of the robotics team…I agree with Chris. We need to support public education first. We are far behind financially…before we allow public funds to go to non-public education.”
I said, “I am a strong proponent of parents having the final say when it comes to their children’s education. And I definitely support a voucher system. Consider that the CYFD offers an excellent program that gives direct help for parents who want to put their kids in a pre-K program. And the great thing about this program is that parents can choose the pre-K program that is best for them and their child. And if we can do that in the pre-K program, why can’t we do it for K-12 program. I am the only candidate here who supports school vouchers.”
I cannot understand how those who say they champion the poor, oppose school vouchers. There is nothing more powerful than education to lift people out of poverty. Reince Priebus is right when he says, “For most students today, their neighborhood or zip code determines their school. That means some kids, by no fault of their own, are forced into a failing school…By empowering parents over bureaucrats, school choice challenges all schools to do better — helping all of our kids.” Parents can’t wait another day; they have to act now.
This past weekend, I spoke with a Mom who paid $20,000/year for a private school specializing in learning disabilities. She could afford her son’s tuition, but what about the parents who cannot? School vouchers offer a fiscal benefit for such families, as well as our state and local governments. States that face tighter budgets particularly benefit from the savings, detailed in this report: “The Fiscal Effect of Private School Vouchers.”
I am also a beneficiary of public school, but my parents chose to send me to private schools as well. A school voucher would have been tremendously helpful. It was hard, but worth the sacrifice, because they knew that education was the only pathway for minorities to overcome discrimination and succeed in America.
Our State Legislature would most likely not pass school voucher laws. However, we could support more charter schools and look at educational savings accounts. I applaud Arizona’s State Legislature for SB 1281 which clarifies rules concerning these accounts. They give students multiple learning options and are among the most innovative programs in the Country. Every child deserves an education that best fits their individual needs, whether that’s public, charter, private, home school, or any combination of these. Let’s empower parents by giving them the financial means to do so.
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