The Arizona state supreme court ruling last week that threw out a school funding ballot measure set for November has lit a match under an already combustible midterm election.
The state’s high court lon Aug. 30 said the language of Proposition 207, a ballot measure that would have asked voters to provide $690 million more to schools through a tax on the state’s wealthier residents, was confusing to voters and didn’t adequately explain its fiscal impact.
State teacher activists and Democratic candidates for state office immediately pounced on the ruling as unfair and partisan.
“The stakes for the governors race in Arizona just changed utterly and irrevocably,” said David Garcia, a professor of education and an outspoken progressive who beat the more moderate candidate Steve Farley in the state’s Democratic primaries last week. We must elect pro-public education candidates up and down the ballot.”
Earlier this spring, Democrats in the state used statewide teacher walkouts to bring attention to stagnated funding from the Republican-controlled state legislature which they say has left schools unable to provide students with basic services.
During rallies at the capital, they passed around petitions supporting Proposition 207, and Garcia, who was then seeking the Democratic nomination, walked through the crowds, passed out, flyers and took selfies with teachers. But the activists worried that that energy wouldn’t be able to carry them into November.
The ruling Thursday lit up dormant social media pages and sparked teacher protest.
“Teachers are still reeling,” Alexis Aguirre, an Osborn School District teacher told the Arizona Republican during a protest outside the state’s supreme court in Phoenix. “All of those days and hours getting signatures and walking to houses with my toddler and my son knocking on doors, and they’re not letting the will of the people decide. They robbed us of that.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.