This is required reading from AZBlueMeanie (Blog for Arizona), Arizona’s lawless Tea-Publican legislature and public education. What motivated the AZBlueMeanie post is this story by Linda Valdez in The Republic (azcentral.com): Who cares what Arizona’s Constitution says about education? Not Republicans.
I’ll quote some snippets from the Blue Meanie’s post.
I have made these constitutional arguments about public education in Arizona for years, but it’s nice to see The Republic’s Linda Valdez write an opinion that contextualizes the constitutional arguments in the current debate over public education in Arizona.
The Constitution is on the side of the people. It mandates a “system of common schools” that are “open to all pupils” and are “as nearly free as possible.” (Article XI, Section 6)
The Constitution also says: “(T)he Legislature shall provide by law for an annual tax sufficient, with other sources of revenue, to defray the necessary ordinary expenses of the state … “ (Article IX, Section 3)
Article XI, Section 10 calls for “taxation” to “insure proper maintenance of all state educational institutions.”
So what do our intrepid lawmakers do?
In addition to underfunding traditional public education, our GOP lawmakers continue diverting money from public schools to private and religious schools.
That’s despite Article XI, Section 7, which says “No sectarian instruction shall be imparted in any school or State educational institution …”
This year’s expansion of publicly funded vouchers for private and religious schools came despite strong evidence that the program contributes to a two-tier system that is nowhere mentioned in the Arizona Constitution.
Unanswered Question: When will the first lawsuit be filed against this unconstitutional “vouchers for all” bill, and who will be the plaintiffs filing it? I assume that it is already in the works and the litigants are just waiting for the appropriate time to announce the lawsuit.
But the thing is: the state supreme court ruled in favor of vouchers, effectively legitimizing money laundering. Here’s part of the March 21, 2014 report from the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required), Supreme Court deems voucher-like program legal.
Without comment, the high court refused to disturb a Court of Appeals decision which said the program, officially dubbed “empowerment scholarship accounts,” does not run afoul of a state constitutional provision that bars public funds from being used to subsidize private and parochial schools. That court said the fact the parents control the money was sufficient to make the program legal.
The state supreme court flunked Logic 101. Money laundering is an instance of transitivity and takes this form: A gives to B, B gives to C, therefore A is giving to C. So the state gives to parents, parents give to private schools, therefore the state gives to private schools. And our state supreme court is OK with that.
The AZ legislators are not the only ones in government who are acting unconstitutionally.