Goldwater Institute: The Arizona Department of Education’s Latest Epic Fail

Matt Beienburg, Director of Education, Goldwater Institute

Last week brought news that the Arizona Department of Education had inadvertently released the personal information of the nearly 7,000 families who make use of Empowerment Savings Accounts (ESA). And it’s not the first time the Department has mishandled the ESA program, a program that helps so many children—many of them with special needs—get the customized education they need to succeed.

On Monday, it was revealed that the Department released a spreadsheet that included the account balances of every ESA account in the state, along with the names, email addresses, and other personal information of the nearly 7,000 parents with ESA accounts. Not only was the spreadsheet containing the sensitive information sent to the Yellow Sheet Report, but it was also shared with Save Our Schools, a group that has been an outspoken opponent of ESAs.

Unfortunately, this latest epic fail on the part of the state Department of Education is part of a pattern of poor management of the ESA program. Earlier in January, the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit challenging the Department of Education’s long delays in supplying needed funds to which ESA families are entitled—delays long enough to force parents to pay out of pocket for tutoring and teaching tools that their ESA should cover without the possibility of reimbursement. While requiring families to follow its ESA rules to the letter, the Department of Education’s handling of the ESA program has still resulted in unpredictable and arbitrary outcomes for families—for instance, some families have been rejected for certain ESA expenses while others have been approved for the very same expenses.

“Mistakes do happen, but I don’t think that’s good enough as an excuse. That doesn’t undo the damage, the harm to these families,” Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg said of the privacy breach on KJZZ’s “The Show.” “These are families with deeply personal life circumstances, these are kids with special needs diagnoses, and this information is now essentially made available to be dragged out into the public.

“For the Department to have treated these families this way saying ‘we have zero tolerance for any misstep’ and to then make a massive blunder like this is really revealing.”

Listen to the interview here: https://theshow.kjzz.org/sites/default/files/ade-data-breach-show-sg-mb-20200129.mp3?uuid=5e3b8ffd9e654

Matt Beienburg is Director of Education at the Goldwater Institute. You can read his bio here.

Mark Brnovich Interviews with Steve Goldstein on KJZZ’s Here and Now

In case you missed it, Attorney General candidate Mark Brnovich appeared on KJZZ’s Here and Now with Steve Goldstein on Wednesday.

As always, Goldstein conducted an engaging interview asking Brnovich everything from why he has decided to challenge a sitting incumbent, what issues will be a priority and how a small government conservative like Brnovich would govern as Arizona’s next Attorney General.

Mark Brnovich delivered focused, consistent and principled answers to Goldstein’s questions with the underlying emphasis of restoring integrity and ethics to the office of Attorney General – just one of many reasons why Brnovich is the best individual for the job.

Here is the interview which runs just over six and a half minutes: 

Brnovich KJZZ

 

You can find out more about Mark Brnovich by visiting his website at Mark4AZ.com.

Friday Poll: Who has the best daily political/talk radio show in Arizona?

This Friday, we’re asking who you listen to and who you think has the best political/talk radio show in Arizona. We’re trying to cover the entire State of Arizona from Flagstaff to Yuma and Phoenix to Tucson. Arizona has an abundance of politically astute, satirical and entertaining radio personalities. The list (with links) includes:

This is your chance to vote for your favorite daily political radio show and tell us why they have the political news and talk in Arizona. (And if we’ve forgotten someone, please let us know!)

(The poll will remain open for one week and limits voting to one vote/IP address.)