Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday defended his decision to sign a massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher program, saying the state can invest more money into public K-12 education while adding reforms like the voucher program.
The throaty defense of the legislation signed by the Republican governor last week came a day after he met with six state teachers of the year. One said after the meeting that the governor had “played” them about his public education goals during last year’s campaign to pass a school funding initiative known as Proposition 123. The voter-approved measure tapped the state trust land fund for an extra $3.5 billion over 10 years for K-12 schools.
A letter the teachers gave Ducey talked about a statewide teacher shortage and said “funneling public money into private hands with a total lack of oversight will only exacerbate that crisis.”
“It’s hard not to feel betrayed when we went out and stumped for 123,” Beth Maloney, the state’s 2014 teacher of the year, told KPNX-TV Monday. “People voted for 123 because we said it was a good idea, it was something that we could back. And now there is a very real sense that we got played. I think the taxpayers of Arizona just got played.”
Ducey said Tuesday he listened to the teachers’ concerns and told them the state can do reforms like voucher expansion while still adding more resources to K-12 education. He said he did not deceive teachers about his backing of school vouchers.
“That’s just not true, and I think you’re taking words out of context,” Ducey told reporters. “They do expect more, I expect more as well. And I’m going to be working with the legislature so we can get every available dollar into K-12 and into the classroom and into teacher salaries.”
The measure Ducey signed last week extends eligibility in the state’s private school voucher program to all 1.1 million students over the…