Expect More Arizona — More Opportunities to Take Action!

| February 2, 2021
Expect More Arizona
Weekly Advocacy Updates: January 25-29

This Week at the Arizona Legislature

Legislators have introduced more than 1,400 proposals this year and are working on more, but time is running out. Next week is the deadline for new bill introductions in both the House and Senate, and there are just three more weeks for bills to make it through committee approvals. Almost 800 proposals are still awaiting at least one committee hearing.

Opportunities to Take Action

Four important bills will be heard in committee next week and we need you to take action! Sign in to the Request to Speak system today to weigh in accordingly.

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) – SB 1452: This bill would significantly expand the number of students who qualify for an ESA, broaden the expenses that can be covered by an ESA, waive the prohibition against using a School Tuition Organization (STO) and ESA in the same year for some students, and shifts existing school funding away from charter schools and school districts to ESAs. (STOs use tax donations and allocate them to K-12 students who need help with tuition in private schools.) This bill will be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, February 2 at 2 p.m. Expect More Arizona OPPOSES this bill. Note: Check your email on Monday for an additional opportunity to take action against this bill! 

Online Preschool – HB 2703: The bill would create a two-year technology-based school readiness pilot program and dedicated $2 million to contract with a non-profit that provides technology-based school readiness programs. One of the key components to a high-quality preschool experience is the interaction between the teacher, the child and their peers. While we agree it’s important to increase access to preschool across the state, especially in rural and Tribal communities, computer instruction at home is the not the same. This bill will be heard by the House Education Committee on Tuesday, February 2 at 2 p.m. Expect More Arizona OPPOSES this bill.

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams – SB 1295: The bill would establish the AP Course Access, Participation, and Success Program and appropriate $1.5 million to the Arizona Department of Education for grants to schools to expand access for rigorous coursework and college credit. To qualify for the grant, schools must have less than two AP courses and at least 40 percent of their students must qualify for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch. In addition, the bill provides $1.2 million to waive test fees for low-income students who take examinations that qualify for college credit, such as AP, Cambridge, etc. This latter item is also included in the Governor’s FY22 Proposed Budget. This bill will be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, February 2 at 2 p.m. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS this bill.

Career and Technical Education – SB 1179: This is a mirror bill to HB 2123, which has already passed out of the House Education Committee. The bill expands Career and Technical Education Districts to allow four years of funding for qualifying students. This bill will be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, February 2 at 2 p.m. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS this bills.

Sign in to the Request to Speak System now to let committee members know you OPPOSE SB 1452 and HB 2703 and SUPPORT and SB 1295 and SB 1179!

Updates on Other Bills We’re Watching

Accountability (A-F Letter Grades) – HB 2402 and SB 1178: Last week we encouraged you to sign in to the Request to Speak system to let House and Senate Education Committee members know you support these identical bills. The bills would pause the state’s A-F letter grade accountability system for two school years to allow the education community to better understand the data surrounding student achievement during the pandemic, and to allow for a smooth transition to the new statewide assessment to be administered for the first time in Spring 2022. Both bills passed and are scheduled to be heard in House and Senate Rules on Monday, February 1 at 1 p.m. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS these bills. 

English Language Learning – HCR 2005: Asks voters to repeal requirements of Structured English Immersion and allow dual language instruction to serve native and non-native English speakers. Two years ago, an important bill was passed which reduced the “four-hour block” requirement for English language development each school day and instead allows schools and teachers much more flexibility to design programs and services that best meet the needs of individual students. HCR 2005 is the next important step. This policy change can help close the achievement gap for English language learners. HCR 2005 passed out of the House and awaits committee assignment in the Senate. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS this resolution.

Funding for Preschool – HB 2015:  Seeks to appropriate general fund dollars to help address the recent loss of $20 million in federal preschool development grant dollars. The proposal would appropriate $7.5 million in FY21, $15 million in FY22, and $22.5 million in FY23. No change from our last update. This bill continues to await a hearing in House Rules. Expect More Arizona SUPPORTS this bill.

Find a complete list of bills we’re watching on our website.

 

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