Arizona Education Association

Fall 2021

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AT THE CAPITOL 6 ADVOCATE | FALL 2021 O n August 19, 2021, the Arizona Supreme Court let politics win over justice. e Ducey-packed Court all but struck down INVESTinED in a blatant partisan ruling that will cut nearly a billion dollars in school funding approved by 1.7 million voters last year. e Court ruled that the INVESTinED revenue is subject to constitutional district expenditure limits. No proof was presented that INVESTinED revenue would exceed this cap, so the Court has remanded the lawsuit back to lower courts for review, which we expect in the next few months. e Court assumed the legislature would not raise the education expenditure limit even though it has numerous times in the past. In fact, the legislature will have to raise it again by March 2022 for school districts to spend Prop 301 funds. Although INVESTinED uses the exact same language used in Prop 301, passed in 2000, the Court still found fault with INVESTinED language. e Supreme Court has directed the lower court to look at all scenarios that would cause the INVESTinED revenue to exceed the constitutional spending cap. All other claims against INVESTinED were dismissed back in June. While we would have preferred that the Court uphold the law in its entirety, this ruling does clarify that the people of Arizona have the right to tax themselves to raise revenue. e Invest in Education Act was craed to benefit all Arizona's 1.1 million K-12 students while not taxing working and middle- class families impacted by the pandemic. Today's ruling does not invalidate the fact that our governor and state legislature have failed to fund our public schools. It does not erase the need our public school students and educators have for support and resources in order to be successful. And it does not overrule the support Arizona voters have for our public schools and their desire to increase school funding. AEA and INVESTinED Coalition Decry Politically Motivated, Cynical Arizona Supreme Court Ruling Against Prop 208 Coalition Demands Governor Call Special Session to Prevent Permanently Underfunded Arizona Schools AEA Applauds Court Ruling Governor's Mask Ban Unconstitutional O n September 27, 2021, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper found portions of the K-12 education budget – including bans on mask mandates, vaccines, and controversial topics in the classroom – passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed into law by Governor Ducey to be unconstitutional. "We are pleased with today's court ruling and believe it represents the independent spirit of Arizonans," says AEA President Joe omas. "Now, our communities and school boards can make their own decisions based on local conditions in determining whether to have a mask requirement in their schools." e Arizona Education Association and a coalition of education organizations and supporters filed the lawsuit against the state over the constitutionality of the ban on mask mandates in our public schools. When Governor Ducey signed the 200-page K-12 education budget it included new policy provisions for schools unrelated to the budget. ese provisions included language prohibiting school districts from requiring face coverings and the COVID-19 vaccine for students and staff, and a teacher gag bill that prohibits teachers from discussing "controversial" topics in the classroom. e court ruling agree with the coalition's claims that these laws are unconstitutional and violated the single subject and title requirements for legislation set forth in the Arizona Constitution. "We know the majority of parents and our educators support our school leaders doing everything they can to keep our students and staff safe and healthy," says omas. "We're seeing more and more school districts taking steps to protect their students and communities. Today's ruling ensures they won't have to break the law to implement common sense protections for our students. We urge lawmakers to listen to their constituents and make the right decision by accepting this ruling to ensure our classrooms and campuses are safe so we can keep our students learning in our classrooms." AEA and its 20,000 members are committed to our mission of Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education. At the core of that promise is an unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our students and staff. We will advocate by all means necessary to deliver on that promise so that every student in the state has access to a quality public school. AEA is proud to stand alongside other public education champions in this effort. Article continues on p. 13.

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