gov. doug ducey

gov. doug ducey

 (p o: tom tingle/the republic)

sunday’s super bowl gives me a flicker of hope for arizona’s ultimate underdogs: our kids.

think about it.

the new england patriots is a team we love to hate. (jealous much?)

arizona’s public schools, meanwhile, have long been hated by the republican-controlled legislature. our leaders have spent years starving them for cash and devising ever-more ways to divert public funding to private schools.

new england was down by 25 points midway through the third quarter on sunday night and the game, clearly, was over.

halftime, and things aren't looking good

here are 10 bills to watch this legislative season.

here are several bills to watch during the 2017 legislative season. 

tom tingle/the republic
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mandatory recess for all: house bill 2082 would require

mandatory recess for all: house bill 2082 would require all arizona district and charter schools to give their students in kindergarten through fifth grade at least 50 minutes of free-play recess time each day. schools can decide how they want to allocate that time. however, they would not be allowed to withhold recess time from students as punishment without notifying parents first. 

david kadlubowski/the republic
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cap on tuition increases: senate bill 1061 would limit

cap on tuition increases: senate bill 1061 would limit tuition increases at arizona state university, university of arizona and northern arizona university to no more than 2 percent a year. 

michael schennum/the republic
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expanding school vouchers: sb 1431 would expand the

expanding school vouchers: sb 1431 would expand the state's empowerment scholarship accounts program, a voucher-type system that allows eligible students to take 90 percent of the per-pupil funding schools receive to use toward private-school tuition. all arizona public-school students would be eligible for so-called vouchers by 2020. the bill mandates students who are esa recipients be tested for academic achievement. 

mark henle/the republic
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repealing ban on ethnic studies: sb 1126 would repeal

repealing ban on ethnic studies: sb 1126 would repeal a 2011 law that prohibits district and charter schools from teaching cl es in kindergarten through 12th grade that "promote the overthrow of the u.s. government, promote resentment toward a race or cl of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity." schools that don't abide by that law risk losing some state money. 

getty images/istockp o
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sunscreen allowed at school: hb 2134 would require

sunscreen allowed at school: hb 2134 would require public school districts, charter schools and children's ps to allow kids to carry and apply sunscreen while at school. 

thinkstock
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promoting early intervention for dyslexia: under hb

promoting early intervention for dyslexia: under hb 2202, the state department of education would be required to develop a handbook for schools on how to identify and teach students who are dyslexic. 

getty images/istockp o
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required checklist for going to college: hb 2361 would

required checklist for going to college: hb 2361 would require each district and charter high school to include a checklist on all students' report cards that shows their progress in meeting the admissions requirements for the state's three public universities: asu, ua and nau. the bill also would require schools to "communicate information" to students on the financial-aid process. 

the republic
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free college testing for high-school students: hb 2210

free college testing for high-school students: hb 2210 would require the state board of education to approve a standardized college entrance exam (i.e. the or act) for all 11th-grade district and charter school students to take at no cost to them. the state board would also be required to make available for 12th-grade students the college exam and career readiness essments that test work skills. 

getty images/istockp o
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overhaul university governing board system: hb 2359

overhaul university governing board system: hb 2359 would restructure the board and add three governing bodies, one for each university. 

tom tingle/the republic
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how employable are college graduates? hb 2283 would

how employable are college graduates? hb 2283 would require community colleges and state universities to tell students and parents how employable they will be based on their chosen program of study. 

getty images/istockp o
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prioritize police in schools: senate bill 1099 would

prioritize police in schools: senate bill 1099 would prioritize funding for police officers on k-12 school puses. schools would be required to track incidents in which law enforcement responded to the pus and criminal activity on or around pus. these stats would be used to prioritize igning officers to schools with higher numbers of incidents. 

carlos chavez/the republic
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student journalist protections: senate bill 1384 would

student journalist protections: senate bill 1384 would provide protections for student journalists and their advisers at high schools, community colleges and universities. 

david wallace/the republic
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it’s not yet halftime at the arizona legislature but already things are looking bad for the downtrodden public schools. gov. doug ducey’s proposal to give them $114 million in new funding – including that nifty 4/10ths of a percent pay increase for teachers– had some in the education community letting down their guard.

then they were hit with a bill to expand the state’s vouchers program (read: empowerment scholarship accounts) to any child in the state – a move advertised as giving poor children “choice” when in actuality it just allows wealthy children to go to private school on the public’s dime.

then they were hit with a bill targeting $211 million in desegregation funding collected by 18 school districts, most of which educate mostly lower-income and minority children.

and, of course, there is the continued 20 percent annual increase in the amount of corporate tax credits allowed, money that is diverted to private school tuition.

fortunately, everybody likes a comeback story and everybody is looking around to see if tom brady is in the house (or in this case, the state).

me? i’m looking at gov. doug ducey.

6 ways gov. ducey can step up

he could single-handedly show himself to be that which he claims to be: a champion of public schools, that is.

here’s the playbook, governor:

  1. hold off on even one more cent in tax cuts until such time as you can announce with a straight face that the public schools are adequately funded.
  2. announce that you won’t sign any bill expanding vouchers or threatening existing funding to any school district. both are issues to be considered only after we reach af status. (see no. 1.)
  3. postpone $97 million in already-approved corporate tax cuts that go into effect in the coming budget year and $182 million in tax cuts that’ll go into effect the following year.
  4. put a halt to the automatic 20 percent annual increase in the corporate tax-credit allowed for private school tuition – an amount that this year could drain another $12 million from the state’s general fund.
  5. get behind sen. steve farley's senate bill 1144, aimed at finding $2 billion or so out of the $12 billion worth of exemptions carved into that hunk of swiss cheese we call a sales tax code.
  6. boost your proposed $114 million in new money for schools by another hundred million or so and give teachers a raise that seems more like a boost then a slap in the face.

couldn’t happen, you say?

funny thing, that’s exactly what i was saying about new england as lady gaga was singing "god bless america."

oh, for a hero.

are you game, governor?

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