Let’s Make a Stand About Public Education!

A quartet of religious right bills undercutting public education is getting close to law… but there is still time to make a difference.

SB1657 and SB1707 would once again expand the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (tuition voucher) program, which sucks money out of public schools and redistributes it to wealthy families and ineffective private (and religious) schools.

HB2495 is an old-fashioned book ban. It prohibits schools from using nearly any book mentioning any facet of human sexuality, even the most trivial. This would have the effect of censoring materials teaching about healthy relationships, human biology, and LGBTQ+ issues. It would also be used to stifle access to meaningful literature of all types—especially that which does not conform to white Christian nationalist viewpoints.

SB1269 is a rushed 101-page “striker” bill reshaping our school funding system so that the poorest schools would actually receive less money, while charters and well-off schools get more.

These bills are all headed for final floor votes. If they pass, the next stop is the Governor’s desk.

Here’s what you can do about them:

  1. Contact your own Representative about these bills. Use our form below or look up their contact info here.
  2. Share this alert with friends!

When it comes to education, the majority of Arizonans are on our side. Let’s make sure they hear from all of us!

Take action!

Second Chance to Go on Record Against Religious Education Bills

Last week, we alerted you to SB1211, creating an administrative burden on teachers to publish all learning materials online—a political bill serving no purpose but to appease the religious conservative education movement.

That bill got held in committee last week, but is making a comeback in House Appropriations this Monday.

The following day, Senate Appropriations will also hear HB2637, forcing the state to divest from sex education curriculum providers that also provide abortions (i.e. Planned Parenthood), and whose learning materials are “explicit” (read: scientifically accurate and LGBTQ-inclusive). This bill, of course, unconstitutionally revolves around Christian anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ doctrine.

This bill was also supposed to be heard last week but got pushed back. So we have a second chance to get our voices on the record for both these bills.

If you can join us, here’s what you can do:

  1. Contact committee members. You can use our form here to get in contact.
  2. If you are a Request to Speak user, sign in against both bills
  3. If you can testify live in committee, contact us if you’d like help knowing how to prepare

CONTACT LAWMAKERS NOW

Oppose Coercion and “Separate But Equal” in Schools

AZ’s House Education Committee will hear two bills creating an atmosphere of coercion and discrimination in schools:

HB2707 unconstitutionally requires teachers to lead the Pledge of Allegiance and two-minutes of “silent reflection” (i.e. prayer time) in classrooms.

HB2314 creates a discriminatory “separate-but-equal” system for gendered school bathrooms and other accommodations. It also opens non-cisgender students up to unwanted attention and embarrassment by forcing them to make written requests to use facilities matching their gender identity.

Bonds of trust between parents, kids, and their teachers are key to educational success. Kids need to feel like they can trust the adults in their lives to have their best interests in mind—not to foster atmospheres of religious indoctrination or discrimination.

Here’s what you can do right now about these bills:

  1. Use our action alert form to read more and contact committee members
  2. If you are a Request to Speak user, sign in against these bills before Tuesday morning.
  3. RSVP for Secular Day at the Capitol where we will rally and lobby with lawmakers against bills like these

TAKE ACTION NOW

 

Have more time for action?

The parade of anti-democracy bills and other rights violations impacting us all continues. If you’re ready to really dig in, click here for the complete list of bill numbers you can sign in against through Request to Speak or call committee members about this week.

Thank you so much for your commitment and passion.

-The Secular AZ Team

Oppose Taxpayer-Funded Giveaways to Private Schools

We’re continuing to watch several dozen bills of interest moving through the Legislature. The ones to speak out about this weekend are a slate of education attacks headed for committee on Tuesday.
School voucher expansions SB1131, SB1657, and SB1707 yet again expand the use of the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, which suck money out of public education and redistribute it to private and religious schools via tuition vouchers.

The bills are new but the argument against them is still the same. Funding religious schools with public dollars is unconstitutional. And funding private schools with tax dollars is an ineffective rip-off that mainly benefits education privateers.

We’ve put together an action form here. You can use it to contact committee members in as quick as a minute.

CONTACT LAWMAKERS NOW

Bills in Committee Feb 7-8

We’re continuing to watch several dozen bills of interest moving through Legislative committees. Here’s the full list of what’s on our radar next week:

In House Health & Human Services: Monday, 2/7/22:

  • HB2086: schools cannot require COVID or Human Papillomavirus vaccines

 

Committee members:

Kelli Butler (D) – (602) 926-5156 / kbutler@azleg.gov

Joseph Chaplik (R) – (602) 926-3436 / jchaplik@azleg.gov

Alma Hernandez (D) – (602) 926-3136 / ahernandez@azleg.gov

Steve Kaiser (R) – (602) 926-3314 / skaiser@azleg.gov

Joanne Osborne (R) – (602) 926-3181 / josborn@azleg.gov

Beverly Pingerelli (R) – (602) 926-3396 / bpingerelli@azleg.gov

Pam P. Hannley (D) – (602) 926-4848 / ppowershannley@azleg.gov

Amish Shah (D) – (602) 926-3280 / ashah@azleg.gov

Justin Wilmeth (R) – (602) 926-5044 / jwilmeth@azleg.gov

 

In Senate Government: Monday, 2/7/22:

  • SB1058: banning drive-up voting; ballot boxes
  • SB1298: mask mandate prohibition
  • SB1357: restrictions on voting machines
  • SB1358: mandating that ballots must be counted at precincts instead of counties (facilitating actual election fraud)
  • SB1359: all election workers must have unique usernames and passwords (so that individuals can be targeted more easily with election fraud accusations)
  • SB1360: expanding access to polls granted to “election observers” (facilitating voter intimidation)
  • SB1362: requiring same-day tabulation; more poll workers/electors
  • SB1380: monthly scrubbing of voter rolls
  • SB1404: restrictions on early voting (would particularly impact people with disabilities)
  • SB1457: restrictions on voting machines
  • SB1474: all elections must be in person
  • SB1477: monthly update of felony convictions records (so as to restrict election access)

 

Committee members:

Sonny Borrelli (R) – (602) 926-5051 / sborelli@azleg.gov

Sally Ann Gonzales (D) – (602) 926-3278 / sgonzales@azleg.gov

Theresa Hatathlie (D) – (602) 926-5160 / thatathlie@azleg.gov

Warren Petersen (R) – (602) 926-4136 / wpetersen@azleg.gov

Martin Quezada (D) – (602) 926-5911 / mquezada@azleg.gov

Wendy Rogers (R) – (602) 926-3042 / wrogers@azleg.gov

Kelly Townsend (R) – (602) 926-4467 / ktownsend@azleg.gov

 

In Senate Education Tuesday, 2/8/22: 

  • SB1131, SB1657, & SB1707: expansions to the state’s school voucher program.
  • SB1412: lowering standards for who can be hired as a substitute teacher
  • SB1519: opening the door for defunding special education

Committee members:

Nancy Barto (R) – (602) 926-5766 / nbarto@azleg.gov

Paul Boyer (R) – (602) 926-4173 / pboyer@azleg.gov

Sally Ann Gonzales (D) – (602) 926-3278 / sgonzales@azleg.gov

Rick Gray (R) – (602) 926-5413 / rgray@azleg.gov

Theresa Hatathlie (D) – (602) 926-5160 / thatathlie@azleg.gov

Christine Marsh (D) – (602) 926-3184 / cmarsh@azleg.gov

Tyler Pace (R) – (602) 926-5760 / tpace@azleg.gov

Thomas Shope (R) – (602) 926-3012 / tshope@azleg.gov

 

What you can do:

  1. Contact the committee members listed above before the day of the hearing
  2. If you are a Request to Speak user, sign in against the above bills. (Note: RTS is moving very slowly, so prepared to be patient.)

 

We will provide an additional update at the beginning next week for bills being heard Wednesday and beyond.

 

In Solidarity,

-The Secular AZ Team

child silenced by abuse

Speak Out on Insidious “Parental Rights” Bills

We’ll cut to the chase about what we’re facing at the Legislature this year: an onslaught of bills designed to kill public education; oppress minorities; curb critical thought in schools; and politically entrench the extreme religious right.

A major conservative theme this year is “parental rights – bills designed to suppress freedom of thought, identity, and reproductive choice among youth, and to push adults who support these freedoms out of schools and government.

Four such bills—SB1015, HB2161, HB2439, and HB2495—are headed to committee starting Tuesday.

Respectively, these bills eliminate medical confidentiality protections for minors; require schools to disclose information about students’ gender identities; and ban books that mention sexuality or race.

Here’s what you can do about them:

  1. Use our web form to read more and contact committee members.
  2. If you are a Request to Speak user, sign in against the above bills.
  3. Contact us if you can testify live the Capitol Tuesday or Wednesday.

TAKE ACTION NOW

Tell AZ lawmakers: stop reviving “no promo homo” already!

On the surface, HB2035 is “just” an attempt to limit access to sex education. It kicks every child in Arizona out of sex education without written permission, and bans teaching sex education at all before 5th grade.

Under the surface, HB2035 is even worse.

HB2035 is yet another attempt to re-institute “no promo homo” policies in schools, on par with SB1456 vetoed by the Governor last month. Its coded language would result in teachers being banned from discussing sexuality in any course other than sex education unless parents opt in.

This means that discussing the very existence of LGBTQ+ people in social studies, literature, and more would require a permission slip. This type of policy is meant to intimidate minority students and staff, and roll back progress AZ has made to reduce bullying and suicide among impacted groups.

Committee chairwoman Nancy Barto (R-15) said she consulted with stakeholders groups on HB2035, but only met with groups who supported HB2035 — and sprung a surprise hearing on everyone else that wanted to be involved.

Even without its discriminatory aspects, HB2035 is bad news for public health.For some young people school-based sex education is their only opportunity to receive this harm-reducing information. HB2035 risks eliminating it completely.

HB2035 is dangerous and goes against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Arizonans (conservatives and liberals alike) who support both sex education and civil rights for all.

HB2035 is headed to a full floor vote in the State House. Join us in making new contacts with our own State Representatives to urge a NO on HB2035.

A big expansion of the school voucher program is headed for a crucial vote

SB1452 once again expands the amount of public dollars given to private and religious schools.

SB1452 makes numerous small changes to state law to further broaden the reach of its controversial “Empowerment Scholarship Account” (school voucher) program.

Essentially, SB1452 loosens the criteria for who receives vouchers. It loosens restrictions on who can vouchers alongside the state’s similar tuition tax credit program. It also would siphon more low-income students from public schools rather than adequately fund those schools.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • Vouchers disproportionately benefit the wealthy: the cost of going to private schools is much higher than that of going to public schools. Even with vouchers in hand, the majority of impoverished families can’t afford it. Families that are already financially secure, meanwhile, get a handout.
  • This handout comes at the expense of struggling public school districts:  When a public school loses a student to the voucher program, it loses thousands of dollars that help pay for teachers, building, and classroom costs. These schools continue to have the same overhead with less revenue.
  • Data shows private schools perform far worse than public schools academically, with less oversight.
  • Vouchers violate our rights to religious freedom by using public funds for religious indoctrination. Vouchers largely benefit religious schools, some of which teach extremist dogma and discriminate against students for religious reasons.

This bill is close to a crucial vote on the House floor.

Contact your State Representatives using our form here.