Our View From Opening Day at the Legislature 2022

On Monday, Governor Ducey delivered his final State of the State speech, and Secular AZ Board Member Sami Al-Asady and I were able to attend as guests of Representative Andrea Dalessandro. This was not the first SOTS I’ve attended, and it wasn’t much different than speeches given in years past.

The governor extolled the virtues of free-market capitalism and supply-side economics, boasted about a multi-billion dollar surplus, and promised even bigger tax cuts. He made no mention of the massive budget cuts facing schools if he and the legislature don’t act before March 1, 2022.

Instead, he promised more vouchers for private and religious schools, despite the fact that Arizona voters overwhelmingly support a fully-funded public education system instead. He made little mention of teachers, but promised that he would sign into law any bill that expands vouchers, charter schools, or other privatization measures.

Despite the recent push to remove dystopian literature from public schools, Ducey seems to embrace a Big Brother approach to education. He announced that he wants to mandate that all curricula should be available online so parents and guardians can micromanage teachers’ ability to teach.

A flurry of bills have already been introduced including voter suppression bills, anti-public education bills, and bills related to vaccines and COVID-19. And while COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the state, there will be no way for constituents to provide remote testimony at the legislature. Additionally, legislative committees will require that members vote in-person, even if they have health concerns.

I had hoped for a unifying message from the Governor, but instead, he seems content with the continued divisiveness embraced by many in his own party. Now more than ever, we need the help of our members and supporters in order to continue our lobbying efforts at the Capitol, and to support our legal committee as it continues to protect our Constitution.

Here’s how you can help:

    1. Attend our Jan. 13th virtual talk with Save Our Schools Arizona about how we can fight for schools this coming election cycle.
    2. Sign up for the Legislature’s Request to Speak public comment system. Legislators look at public opinions here when considering a bill. This also allows you to sign up to testify live in committee. These are both critical steps in making our voice known. Our friends at Civic Engagement Beyond voting can help you get going with it here.
    3. Sign up for Secular AZ action alerts.
    4. Become a Secular AZ member for $35 or less annually. (Or make a one-time donation here.)

In Solidarity,

Jeanne Casteen

Executive Director, Secular AZ


Author: Jeanne Casteen, Secular AZ Executive Director

JEANNE CASTEEN has a bachelor’s degree in human communication and history from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at ASU and a master’s in education, also from ASU. Jeanne has over 11 years of experience teaching in Maricopa County’s public schools. In 2011, Jeanne completed the Emerge Arizona program and in 2012 became a school board member of the Creighton School District. She served as Board President from 2016 through 2020. In 2020, Ms. Casteen ran for Maricopa County School Superintendent, and came within 12,000 votes of winning. She has been awarded the Arizona School Public Relations Association Award for Excellence in Advocacy and Political Contributions to Education as well as the Arizona School Board Association’s All-Arizona School Board Member Award.