Open letter to those opposed to Prop. 123

To all of the folks who are voting “No” on Prop. 123,

In case people don’t read to the end (but read to the end), if you are voting against Prop. 123, contact your legislators and the governor and tell them why. If Prop. 123 fails, the false narrative from our legislators and the governor will likely be something along the lines of this: “SEE?! We knew that the public didn’t care about public education. And this proves it.” (links are at the bottom)

As a teacher in the trenches, I have to wonder where the public has been for the past six years. Education has been left to languish in the bottom of the nation for many years. We have the worst funding in the entire nation, and we’re over $3000 per student per year below the national average (we’re about $15,000 below the states that fund their public education the best/highest).

We also have the lowest administrative costs in the nation, the highest class sizes in the nation, and we’re in the bottom four states for what we pay teachers.

We already have a teacher shortage, and with roughly 30% of our state’s teachers retiring in the next five years, we’re reaching crisis proportions. In many districts, it’s already a crisis.

As a teacher, I feel abandoned by the public. You can say, “I didn’t cause this. I’ve voted for education-friendly people.” But that doesn’t change the fact that the majority of the voting public has continued to elect legislators and other politicians who do not care about public education (as evidenced by their willingness to starve public schools).

Now, when we have a bit of light (meaning—yes—money) coming our way, the public that has essentially abandoned us for the past many years wants to extinguish it by killing Prop. 123.

You do realize that we’re in this mess because of the way Arizonans voted (or apathetically skipped voting) in 2014, right?

You also realize that the plaintiffs (representing the schools) have been fighting for this money since 2010, right? Where were you then? Why didn’t you vocalize your support?

You hopefully also realize that as much as we want to, we can’t force the legislature to pay. And, apparently, we can’t throw them in jail for their refusal to pay, either (although, I wish we could). It’s ironic that we can throw  the “deadbeat dads” in jail…you know, the same ones that Ducey is going after.

If you vote this down, what’s your plan? The fact is that we have a legislative majority that doesn’t value public education, so the chances of them paying are slim to none. You can’t claim that they “should” pay and that the money exists without raiding the trust land, because what “should” happen doesn’t matter. The facts matter, and the fact is that they won’t pay. They’ve already proven that they won’t. So if Prop. 123 doesn’t pass, we won’t see the money for many years, if ever. (Remember “Flores Vs. Arizona”? It took almost 20 years to settle that case).

So if you vote this down, do you have a plan?

Are you going to as aggressively fight to elect new legislators as you are fighting to defeat Prop. 123?

Or are you going to kill this one chance at light and abandon public schools again? Again.

Please, have a plan if you kill this.

Because with this particular legislature, we won’t be seeing any other funds any time soon.

_________________

Here are the links to contact your legislators and governor:

Legislature Link: http://www.azleg.gov/alisStaticPages/HowToContactMember.asp

Ducey Link: http://azgovernor.gov/governor/form/contact-governor-ducey

37 thoughts on “Open letter to those opposed to Prop. 123

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    1. I second that. If they violated a court order then they are in contempt. If this was an individual they would be fined and/or face jail time. I personally feel that the individuals in our legislature should face the same results as any other person.

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  1. If you vote Yes, recognize you are capitulating to Ducey and his thugs. You believe your only choices are this piece of crap, or no funding at all. Do the math and listen to the wind, ‘no money’ is better in *the long run* than Prop 123.

    I am not a teacher, I can not speak for your pov, I have so much respect for you (and if you ask my kids’ teachers they will tell you I am one of the good parents)…but you are viewing this through the lens of slave. You have more power than you know. Why are teachers and the education establishment so shockingly silent, or at most lukewarm in their support? You agreed to the settlement, so nut up and champion it!!!! When you go, ‘well, its a bad deal but we did the best we could’, Ducey knows he has pwnd you.

    If you vote NO, if the TEACHERS vote NO, there is no false narrative. There is Ducey clawing this albatross from his neck. I am voting NO, and I have a plan.

    1) register R and vote in every R primary, its the only race that matters in AZ. In 1 month registering easily on the Secretary of State’s website, all the Ds could completely occupy the R primary. Teachers would be Precinct Captains!

    2) lawsuit. We won 5-0, I dare you to stack the court, I double dog dare you!!

    3) Teachers stop being so silent. A ridiculous feedback loop has developed where teachers must be completely apolitical, and parents too think any discussion beyond cute kids in band class or letters written in Comic Sans is a horrendous social affront. Kavanagh and Ugenti spoke at our school, and I got more complaints from PTO-parents for calling them out than people who actually attended the meeting. When did civic irresponsibility become the curriculum? Teachers have power, when I grew up they were the most powerful people I knew. Speak out, give civics assignments, go on strike, rally, move, retire – flex your muscles! You all have amazing skills and will find amazing next jobs, the voters will get what they deserve, your hands are clean.

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    1. How about we vote yes and get the millions of dollars that are owed to us. I am a public school teacher and I’ll be voting yes.

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      1. Unfortunately, you will not be getting the millions of dollars that are owed to you. You will be getting, this year, $.72 on every dollar owed. That’s if the money appears…..which it may or may not do. And the rest of that money owed will never ever be available again. Never. It’s gone. In past elections, teachers did not vote in significant numbers….I know this to be a fact because I have been involved in elections for many years. If teachers stuck together and voted in their own best interests, they could have completely changed the people who “serve” (themselves to our tax money!) in the legislature. But again, teachers have never voted in large enough numbers to affect anything. And I am a retired educator myself; another reason I know this. Always voted, always wondered why so many didn’t. I’m not blaming lack of voting by educators for this mess, but I think to be up front and honest, it needs to be said, and said loudly………this is what apathy breeds. So Plan B needs to be everyone who really cares about our kids’ and grandkids’ futures needs to educate themselves on all the ramifications of this terrible proposition (which changes our constitution, for goodness sake) and VOTE THESE BUMS OUT OF OFFICE! AND MOVE TH\OGETHER TO IMPEACH OUR CRIMINAL GOVERNOR AND HIS BUDDIES! In my opinion. Thanks for all you do for our kids.

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    2. I appreciate your argument and technically you are right. However, my family cannot continue to suffer. I cannot continue to have to work 2 additional jobs just to get by. I’m sorry but if this doesn’t pass I can’t afford to teach in AZ anymore.

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      1. If this passes, and you are in that dire of straits, you will only be teaching for one more year. This “deal” let’s the government off the hook for all the money they stole from the sales tax increase. It’s basically a settlement. It also robs the funds from the land trust fund. No one will ever be held accountable for what was taken from our children.

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    3. I appreciate these comments and find the dialogue interesting. However, I’ll be voting yes to avoid filling up the private prisons where Ducey is happy to invest money. Personally, I think it makes far more sense to invest in kids than to invest in felons. We’ll be spending the money either now or in the future (when kids don’t have the skills they need to be successful and turn to other sources of income like crime), and I don’t want to raid the state land trust some day to build more prisons.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s already too late for the deal. Douchey invested $17 million MORE, on top of what was already budgeted to build new prisons. But he won’t suffer, just like Jan Brewer didn’t, because they hold stock in the private prison industry. They couldn’t give two craps for you, me or our children. Please vote no! There is enough money in their “rainy day fund” to fund all of Arizona public schools. They just need to be forced to use it. A yes vote allows them to continue to stock pile for their own benefits.

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    4. I hear you and see your point. But, if you don’r realize it, teachers teach because of our love of children and desire to make a difference If this gets voted down, many will leave the profession, simply because they can’t continue to be paid so little and valued even less. I have a degree in Computer Information Systems, and became a teacher because I DO CARE and I knew I could help children. I am tired of fighting people who think that my job is a piece of cake. I make less that half of what I would as a Systems Analyst again and I work longer hours. I am one of the good ones, but I am tired of fighting parents to care as much as I do about their child’s education and then dealing with politicians who pretend to care, but continue to do nothing.

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      1. Mary Vaughan – teachers are amazing people, but imo perhaps a teacher shortage is what’s needed to wake Ducey and this state up and use the leverage you collectively have to improve your salaries. I have worked in software for 20 years, so I’m more experienced and callous about changing jobs and the reality of wages being driven down by outsourcing, but its also very liberating to take charge or your earning potential and work situation by being willing to quit. If you are in Phx, reach out to me offline I can bring you in for an interview asap (if even just to explore your options and get a sense of where you stack up ). I hope you keep teaching and doing good in the world *on your terms* but there are so many jobs for dedicated, detail-oriented people with great people and communication skills.

        Douglas Kilgore – yes the dollar value of the trust will increase but inflation will lessen its purchasing power. Numbers I’ve seen indicate the real dollar value will shrink, not increase. Ducey is the only treasurer in 50 years to endorse this idea. See link at bottom of my reply. We shall have to agree to disagree about Ducey being on the hot seat after this – imo this is Deadbeat Doug’s ‘get out of jail free’ card and I think he will say ‘mission accomplished’ just like GWBush did about Iraq. I also think the very first action item in your campaign should be to encourage this ‘dem-leaning’ teachers and education supporters to unilaterally register R so they can vote in the primaries. Voting in November is too late in many districts.

        http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2016/04/12/proposition-123-former-arizona-treasurers-education-funding/82668182/

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    5. First you need to know we are in a right to work state. Teachers cannot strike. It is against policy to talk about political views. You give teachers more power than what they are ever given. Money that was voted to be given was spent and not funded as dictated by our own constituency. Legislatures are doing all they can to shut down public ed in support of the charges that they themselves are financially backing. These schools are getting almost twice the funding per child…are given benefits for staying below a small population…and are not held accountable for the lack of educational progress and standards to which they are holding public schools. Teachers associations have went after the funding teachers have deserved in the courts and have fought for the teachers who are now leaving the classroom and will never see the money that they should have received. Everyone says they respect what teachers do but where is the fight and outcry from the general public!? It is time for us ALL to say enough is enough…ALL the children are worth more than what we have done for them!!

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    6. Cholaball – this is not about a victory for Gov. Ducey. It was parents and teachers who forced him to the negotiations table last summer with a grassroots army of thousands marching at the capitol and flooding social media. It is a deal that was negotiated with a very unfriendly legislature that had the power to hold this up in court for decades. And, the plaintiffs got far more than their lawyers (some of the best in the state) ever thought they would. It is only a settlement to the lawsuit. There is much more do do and we hope you will look at the PROP 123 GO campaign and help us not only provide the first raise teachers have seen in years, but also build a citizens movement that will hold politicians accountable for doing much more in the future. http://www.prop123GO.com

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  2. Christine, your argument is flawed. The legislature & Gov. won’t do the right thing, so I must vote to allow them to raid our state land trust? No, I won’t be party to helping the Gov. look like he’s funding schools when in reality he’s short-changing our children’s future. When the money in the land trust is gone, it doesn’t generate any more income. It’s simple economics.
    I have another plan, it doesn’t involve stealing from children & it’s called #remember in November. Vote them out.

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    1. Thank you for the comments, Erin, but where are you seeing anything about me telling you how to vote? I am saying that IF you vote “no,” please take it the next step and let your elected officials know why you are voting no. Please do not allow them to walk away with the notion that Prop. 123 failed (if it fails) because the public does not care about public education. And that IS how they will spin this. And I agree 100% with your comment of “Vote them out”!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think that this comment is interesting, but also flawed because our state legislature is in the business of wasting resources anyways. Remember when we sold our state capitol and now we are wasting money renting it back? Why do people think that our state won’t turn around and raid the state land trust for something else? Might as well use these funds for education so that we can maintain (or rebuild, really) a state economy that doesn’t scare new businesses away with headlines about the dreadful state education in Arizona.

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    3. Erin — please consider the facts. The increase in earnings for the next ten years is not a raid on the State Lands Trust. The Governor’s original position on the State Lands Trust Fund was an raid on the fund, but the negotiated amount will allow the State Trust Land Trust fund to grow from $5.1 Billion to over $6 Billion over the next ten years. The value of the State Land Trust os currently $75 Billion and is will not be raided at all. Over the last 10 years the State Land Trust Fund has been underutilized for education allow excess build up of funds which could have been spent on education. Prop 123 will even that out over the next ten years will continuing to provide growth in the fund. The plaintiffs, who have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the trust for the future would have never agreed to this deal, otherwise.

      The Governor will be on the hot-seat immediately for more funding. We have a campaign that you can join to hold him and other politicians to doing more once Prop 123 passes. http://www.Prop123GO.com.

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  3. Prop 123 caps future budget increases to below what is needed. The prop will lead to an OVERALL decrease budget in education by 2025. Supporting 123 is a terrible decision but I guess when someone dangles money in front of someone they get short sighted

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    1. RL – Prop 123 does not lead to an overall decrease in the budget by 2025. That is simply not accurate and I am interested in understanding how you come to that conclusion. Perhaps you might want to read a couple of well-respected studies on the issue by neutral organizations. Please read Grand Canyon Institute Study, very even-handed: http://grandcanyoninstitute.org/report-prop-123-essential-but-only-first-step-in-addressing-more-than-2-billion-shortfall-in-k-12-spending-arguably-worst-in-the-nation/

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  4. As a veteran teacher I have to vote NO on Prop 123 as this is a thinly veiled attempt by the legislature in connivance with the governor of our failed state to direct more money into private religious schools. Step 1 persuaded the public and tired public school teachers that this is the only plan to get more money. Step 2 raid the Trust fund for ten years. Step 3 in 2016/17 pass an extension to the ESA scholarships that will transfer the increased education funding to private schools. Step 4 reduce the state budget so that education amounts to more than 49% of the budget so that you can now disallow any further public education increases. Step 5 tout how you did all you could do to help education and shrug your shoulders. No we should not vote for this complete piece of unmitigated disaster-laden Republican created crap. Sorry for the bad word, but after being beaten up by this state for the past 10 years I am not willing to. Let them continue to do so.

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  5. This is clearly an issue over which a great deal of controversy has arisen. I am a retired school superintendent ( of a private school for deaf children in New York State, which was funded by the state and local school districts from which our students were referred ), and have long been an advocate for increased education funding. Since moving to Arizona in 2004, I have been increasingly appalled at the lack of support for public education in this state, which has accelerated under the governor-ship (I won’t call it leadership!) of Ducey and his minions. I have not decided how to vote on this. At first, I was strictly opposed, thinking that IF we could get a majority of Democrats in the legislature in this next election, the 123 funding would not be necessary, since the newly elected Dems would do the right thing. However, upon reflection, it is highly unlikely that a Democratic majority will prevail in the next election, and the only remedy to get some additional money to public education in the near term will be Prop. 123. Will I hold my nose and vote for it? I don’t know yet, but am still studying it. I admit I haven’t read the whole thing; only some of the commentaries, so do promise myself to read the whole thing before voting.

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  6. I am a veteran teacher of 18 years. All people need to educate themselves by reading the text of proposed amendment. You can find this in your free copy of “What’s on my ballot?” mailer pages 12-16.
    It defines all the REAL changes.
    I have read and studied it. What is being proposed by certain media is not the “whole” truth.
    Please read. Use the gifts of your previous teachers and educate yourself before you make your decision.

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  7. I was undecided until I found this article. It’s clear to me that Ducey is simply taking the easy and irresponsible way out by endangering the future value of the trust, and its future contribution to education, in order to cash in today.

    One of many informed opinions:

    “”The governor, having been a treasurer, should have understood that the trust is a pretty special trust. The idea that you can dip into it for temporary budget relief is a really, really bad idea,” she said.

    “Having been the chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the Senate besides being the state treasurer, I’m very familiar with the state budget. I understand how it works. … If you can do this once, you can do this more than once. When times get kind of rough, you can just go tap that pot again. I just think that’s such a violation of the concept of the trust in the first place.”

    http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2016/04/12/proposition-123-former-arizona-treasurers-education-funding/82668182/

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  8. I volunteer at several Public schools and have supported public schools my whole life. My children graduated public school and AZ universities. I have fought the fight for public education by working for candidates that are proud to stand up for public schools. I vote. Did you vote in 2014? Did you vote for Duval? If not, WHY?

    Prop 123 is one of the most diabolical schemes I have seen in a while. Oh, it makes you feel good to pull the lever for $3.5 Billion to the schools until you read everything else that will PERMANENTLY change the way we fund education forever…or underfund really!

    ..and where does that $3.5B come from? The school’s own trust. It’s like saying your boss confessed that he cheated you on your wages for the last 5 years and you agreed to him paying you back… out of your own 401k.

    I have never seen such torment as teachers needing a raise but, knowing that this is a raw deal for the future of public education, are choosing to vote NO.

    If I have the statistics right, there are 60,000 teachers in AZ. Have you ever held a mass walk out?..said enough is enough, I am not going to be used as a pawn in the Prop 123 scam meant to provide tax breaks for the wealthy on the backs of the teachers and the kids!

    When I worked on a campaign in 2014, the AEA had their recommended list of candidates and right there in their list, AEA supported the anti-public school, candidate, that I was trying to oust, I called, I left messages and not once did I hear back from them, why? Why would they promote someone who had a record of voting against the schools! There is more than meets the eye here. So, in regards to Prop 123, I say they need to apologize. Apologize for promoting this poison pill. They made a mistake in agreeing to this lopsided “settlement” and should tell everyone now before we go to the polls.

    Did you know that Prop 123 has language in it that gives the legislature more power over defunding schools than they currently have?

    Did you know that the Governor’s plan is to continue to reduce income taxes?..How does that affect you?…take a look at the property taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, college tuition fees in the other states that have no income tax. Take a look at the dire situation their schools are in?

    The success of American democracy & preservation of our freedom depends completely on having well educated citizens…

    1. ..and yet, Prop 123 will amend Arizona’s constitution to become the first state to put a cap on how much money can go to education REGARDLESS of the actual needs of our public schools and our kids. Prop 123 prevents any hope of public education being funded properly.

    2. No other ‘state service’ is subject to mandatory cuts as ones proposed to cut education funding in Prop 123.

    To say that our politicians will get away with saying that the citizens of this state are not concerned about public education because we didn’t pass this terrible amendment to our constitution is hoo hockey!

    This November, if you vote, and vote out every single politician that will not publicly state…or how about sign a pledge..that they support public education and they agree to abide by the court’s decision to fund the schools, that you will vote them OUT. I am willing to work towards this. Are YOU?

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    1. I feel validated by the words and videos here supporting teachers and recognizing that we are, yet again, being held over a barrel. “If you value the children you will stay in the classroom where they need you more than ever. If you really believe in public education you will do anything to support it.” I am no longer a member of AEA because of their soft peddle attitude toward negotiation. “You’ve got to go along to get along” does not put food on the table or children through college. I will vote NO on 123 because I want the upcoming generation of teachers to have a chance at better conditions than I’ve had. Our district put the PASS and NO PASS budgets in front of us, too – appalling. I will not sell out the students or the young teachers for a piddling 3% raise.

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  9. I am already choosing to homeschool my child. I don’t blame the teachers one bit! You are amazing! But when we voted for the sales tax increase to fund public education, not one red cent went there. When they raised my property tax, it still didn’t go there. It continues to go to private prisons because our current, and formor governors BOTH own stock in the private prison industry (which is a conflict of interest in my opinion, but that’s for another story). I refuse to give them any more money until they figure out how to budget what they have wisely. This entire state has had to tighten our belt buckles with hiring freezes, no raises, one year welfare limits, etc. continuously harming the struggling lower/middle class, while giving corporate welfare out hand over fist. It’s time to stop this nonsense and tax those who have extra, and stop overfunding the private prison industry. Im voting no, and that’s why, and our governor will hear it from me!

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  10. Teachers, YOU NEED A UNION!! The teaching profession was once protected and pure, but now the evils of ownership have abandoned you! There is no money and power for politicians in government shenanigans. If you look after our children you must be STRONG! Stand up for yourself! Do not Sacrifice yourselves! Command the landscape for you are must lead the world! Vote NO on 123

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    1. Just remember that, thanks to the legislature, there can be no unions in AZ. We’re a “right to work” state, through no choice of the teachers themselves.

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      1. That’s not 100% accurate regarding no unions in AZ. There are unions for almost every business across the state. We may be a right to work state but that doesn’t remove the workers right to be part of a union. They may not be as strong as in other states but they do still hold some power.

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  11. Christine, Are you aware that under the legislation pending that there is no requirement that one penny of the 3.5 billion dollars must be used in the classroom. There is no requirement that any portion the funds be used to increase teachers salaries or to hire additional teachers. I suggest that you read the revision to the education code that has already been drafted in expectation the Proposition will pass. You might be surprised that you are pushing to pass legislation that provides no guarantee of benefits to you. One thing you need to know is that beginning in year 11 passage of the bill will cost the Department of Education 50 million dollars annually forever in lost revenue. Is that really what you want to do? The simple answer is to raise taxes to the level needed to properly fund education. However, I have yet to see any detailed and itemized report from any school district on how they spend the money they are given each year. If you salary is too low,blame your school administrators not the public as the administrators manage the money they are given not the public.

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  12. Here is a really good view that will explain all the negative impacts a yes vote on prop 123 will have on our children’s futures. Please take the time to watch it. This is very important!

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  13. The Republican leadership in Arizona knows that the November 2016 election will likely bring a Democratic majority to the the Arizona State Senate, and perhaps even in the State House. The sane will have a solid majority. Those leaders know a legislature controlled by Democrats will pass only an education friendly budget.

    Proposition 123 caps and restricts education funding; putting these caps and restrictions in the State Constitution; making it extremely difficult to ever fund public school in Arizona beyond 49th or 50th in the nation. This will keep our public schools woefully underfunded for decades into the future; rapidly moving most students into private schools, leaving behind nearly all poor minority students.

    It’s their last chance to keep money out of public schools, to starve them into near non-existence. Proposition 123 will reduce public education in Arizona to a minor welfare program to be further attacked, hobbled and destroyed at every opportunity.

    The solution is to not cap and restrict school funding, to elect a lot of education friendly legislators in November (and that means Democrats), and to stay politically active.

    Vole No on 123 to keep Arizona schools public.

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