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Save our Schools group temporarily halts universal vouchers in Arizona

The voucher law would mean all Arizona families that choose not to send their child to a public school can receive a debit card for education expenses.

PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast. 

The public education activist group Save Our Schools announced Friday they have collected just over 141,700 signatures on petitions to halt a universal school voucher law passed by the Republican-led state legislature this summer.

The group will need 118,823 signatures to be validated by the state and counties in order for the referendum to be successful. That amounts to about 83% of the signatures collected.  During the 2018 campaign, Save Our Schools Arizona had an 87% validation rate.

As 12 News has reported, the ESA expansion voucher law would mean all Arizona families that choose not to send their child to a public school will have the option to receive a debit card with an estimated $7,000 for educational expenses. 

The money, which would otherwise go to public education, may be spent on private school tuition or other costs associated with alternative schooling for that particular child.

The Secretary of State’s Office will begin the process of analyzing the signatures to ensure there is the required number needed to place the issue on the 2024 ballot.

“Today we are putting on hold the anti-public education, anti-parent, anti-student agenda that is being forced into our state by extremists,” said Beth Lewis, Director of Save Our Schools Arizona, during a rally Friday at the capitol.

“Our country has proven over and over again a strong, robust public education system makes us a better, more equitable society,” said Patrick Brown, a volunteer and educator.

The conservative Goldwater Institute has called the new law “a major victory for families wary of a one-size-fits-all approach to education.”  

The Arizona Education Association has warned the program will create a parallel structure in education that will drain public schools and subsidize wealthy families who already send their children to religious schools.

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