PHOENIX - "Save our schools! Save our schools!" That was the chant that went up on the north lawn of the Arizona State Capitol Monday afternoon.
Opponents of the recently passed SB 1431, the school voucher bill, launched a campaign to garner 150,000 signatures for a repeal proposition that, if successful, would go before voters on the November 2018 ballot.
"We believe educational opportunity is a right and it should be offered to every Arizona child," former Arizona legislator and education advocate David Schapira said, reaffirming the group's goal to repeal SB 1431.
He told the crowd that despite a steady counter-protest from hundreds of public school supporters, legislators "betrayed" voters and the children they represent when they passed SB 1431.
Opponents of SB 1431 say the planned school choice vouchers program would not provide the desired economic relief proponents testified to before legislators.
About 100 supporters gathered for the Save Our Schools rally to hear from some of those who testified against the passage of the bill -- including Tempe elementary school teacher Beth Lewis.
"I'm here to tell you that expensive private schools are not a choice for my students," she said.
The fifth-grade teacher with seven years of experience said the legislature has violated its constitutional obligation to prioritize funding for public schools.
"The only people who will benefit from this bill are those who can already afford expensive, private and religious schools," Lewis said.
The countdown is on for opponents of SB 1431. According to state statutes, the repeal effort has just ninety (90) days to gather the requisite number of eligible, voter signatures. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed the school voucher bill last month.
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