ASU students campaigned to push Save Our Schools to ballot

Ballot referendum could stop voucher expansion

This summer, parents, students and educators came together to collect enough signatures to get a referendum designed to alter Arizona’s school voucher program on the ballot. 

Save Our Schools Arizona claims that vouchers, taxpayer-funded reimbursements designed to give children the opportunity to go to any school, pull too much money from the already-underfunded public school system.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed Arizona Senate Bill 1431 in April, extending eligibility for school vouchers to all Arizona students if they take an annual standardized test.

Save Our Schools set out to kill that bill. 

They needed to get 75,000 signatures to put SB 1431 on hold. In two and a half months volunteers got about 108,000, turning the bill into Proposition 305.

Save Our Schools is pushing for people to vote no on Prop. 305 when it goes on the ballot in November 2018. If enough people vote it down, voucher expansion will be killed for the time being.

Political science senior Ryan Wadding said that, as someone who grew up in Arizona public schools, he thinks it is important to fund public schools so that other kids can receive an education like he did.

“I think we should have an emphasis on keeping public schools funded and I think that this measure to expand school choice is going to drain our public schools,” Wadding said. “As long as I’m in Arizona, I’m not willing to watch that happen without a fight.”

Public service and public policy senior Bridgette Pina, who volunteered to collect signatures for Save Our Schools, credits the campaign’s grassroots base for its success.

“I think this campaign was successful because people just don’t trust politicians,” Pina said. “The fact that we were community-led really played to our advantage.”

While she was excited to see the campaign succeed, she said it took her by surprise.

“I’m still kind of in shock,” she said. “It’s rare that you see a grassroots campaign, community-led, win.”

Jimmy Arwood, a public service and public policy senior, has been involved in the initiative’s campaign from the start. He said the campaign’s main goal is to educate the public on education. 

“We’re one of the richest countries in the world,” Arwood said. “Education isn’t something we should even be fighting about.”

He said that, while it has been great to see how successful the campaign has been, they has no plan of slowing down now. He anticipates bipartisan support for the referendum.

“I want to fight for long-term change where help is needed,” Arwood said. “I think it absolutely will be successful. It’s something people can agree with regardless of political affiliation.”



Reach the reporter at aegeland@asu.edu and follow @alexis_egeland on Twitter. 

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.