A Civil War Era Monument That Was Never Built

By Dick Foreman

I’ve written this blog about 14 times. Seriously.

And each time it goes to the cutting room floor. My analysis of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts has been set aside by a recall issue. School Funding is a critical discussion turning into the flavor of the day but at least ideas are emerging and competing. And then Charlottesville happened and the focus lurched into a new discussion. Shall we bulldoze Confederate monuments or not? Sweet mercy sakes, I thought we had some tough challenges with public education issues, and now Confederate monuments are bumping our schools’ needs off the radar. One of my keenest advisors and observers of the Arizona political and policy scene said this to me, “I am annoyed at everything.”

Yes. I am annoyed, too. But not at everything. In fact, as I think about it, I am far more grateful for the opportunity to support the over 1 million Arizona children who have started school again this month. And, with due gratitude to Dr. Ruth Ann Marston and Phoenix Elementary School District Superintendent Larry Weeks for tipping me off, I now have a keenly refreshed perspective on this point. Perhaps you might appreciate it, too. Read on.

It is a sacred opportunity to define the mission in public education. It’s as American as our American Founding Fathers, who unequivocally endorsed it. So, understanding our roots might help, like learning the real pioneer history of public education in Arizona. What are we doing this for? Who is our “Education Founding Father?” Do we have one?

Yes, indeed we do. And he’s an incredible role model and inspiration as well.

Don Estevan Ochoa

Don Estevan Ochoa

So, I’d like to reflect on Don Estevan Ochoa, born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1831. Senor Ochoa is Arizona’s Education Founding Father. To me, this is not a debate. It is an irrefutable truth.

In a nutshell, Ochoa was a Tucson merchant who, during the Civil War, refused to shift his loyalties from the United States Government to the Confederacy in deference to the demands of the commander of the marauding army from the south. When he told them “no,” they confiscated all his worldly goods (which was a lot as he was one of the most successful merchants in Tucson at the time) and ordered him out of the Territory. Forcibly put outside the protective Tucson Presidio, he vowed to return to drive the Confederates from Arizona. And he did! Ochoa made his way through hostile Indian lands to fetch a Union battalion at the Rio Grande that returned with him, successfully restoring Arizona to the Union. He was a bonafide war hero and American patriot. And this curious fact remains true to this day; in 1875, he was elected Tucson’s first and last Mexican American Mayor.

As accomplished a career as this was, it was still not enough for Ochoa. He was also president of the school board where he upstaged the Arizona territorial legislature and a domineering Catholic bishop to single-handedly raise the funds and donate the land to build the town’s main public school. He accomplished this as a follow up to his efforts three years earlier, as chairman of the territory’s Committee on Public Education, to establish Arizona’s first public school system in Tucson.

Author Jeff Biggers wrote about Ochoa in an online piece A Mexican Immigrant’s Act of Honor for the New York Times (See A Mexican Immigrant’s Act of Honor, by Jeff Biggers, The New York Times, February 14, 2012):

In the spring of 1876, the Arizona Citizen declared: “Ochoa is constantly doing good for the public,” and concluded, “Ochoa is the true and useful friend of the worthy poor, of the oppressed, and of good government.” With the school completed in 1877, the same newspaper raved: “The zeal and energy Mr. Ochoa has given to public education, should give him a high place on the roll of honor and endear him more closely than ever to his countrymen. He has done much to assist in preparing the youth for the battle of life.”

Wow. This reads like a very sensationalized western novel. But it’s not a novel, it’s Arizona’s pioneer heritage. Maybe it’s time to finally desegregate our opinions and integrate our collective hopes.

For many, our respective engagements in public education seem hopelessly mired in what I do not affectionately refer to as political “flotsam and jetsam.” I’ll say this as positively as I can, our vision for Arizona’s educational future remains a critical thinking opportunity.

In my more pessimistic moments, it seems we’re bent on ignoring our past to get to a future that we collectively refuse to envision through consensus building. That’s a problem. What is NOT a problem is where we started. Don Estevan Ochoa was Mexican by birth, American by choice and a hero by deed. He gave up his fortune to fight the Confederate marauders. He got into politics, bless his soul. But most importantly from my perspective, he created the Arizona public education system. He started it all.

Perhaps we should build another Civil War inspired monument – to Don Estevan Ochoa. Senor Ochoa was a real Arizona Civil War hero, an immigrant, a businessman, a true patriot, a rugged pioneer, a proud Republican, and the founder of Arizona’s public education system.

Now isn’t that a heritage all Arizonans can be proud of?

NOTE: Dick Foreman is president & CEO of ABEC.

‘School Choice Matters’ Ad Indicates Education To Be Top Issue In 2018

If you’re a Sunday Square Off viewer, you probably saw this political “thank you” ad air several times during the show. There was no “paid for” disclaimer but the ad was produced by the American Federation for Children.

The ad is airing to support and thank Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature for passing and signing Senator Debbie Lesko’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) legislation. The law now expands school choice (although capped) throughout Arizona.

During final debate, opponents (primarily the Arizona Education Association) whipped up cataclysmic hysteria over the bill. Casual observers would have thought Arizona public education was about to be nuked into oblivion.

School choice advocates were probably caught off guard by the rapid rabid response.

Thus, the American Federation for Children realizing the need to recover the narrative and refocus the debate on children and parental choice, injected itself into the debate.

Anyone watching the warmup for Arizona’s 2018 election cycle can see that next year’s top political issue will be education.

And at the center of that debate, stand Arizona teachers.

Get ready. Every political candidate will position himself/herself as an advocate and “friend of teachers.”

The data proves that Arizona teachers deserve to paid more and if that means unclogging the pipes and removing the administrative clogs to get more money into the classroom, then so be it.

As the Arizona Legislature wraps up the budget and 2017 session, Governor Ducey and lawmakers are poised at an advantage in controlling the message heading into 2018. How they address direct delivery of tax dollars into the classroom, handing out teacher raises and elevating respect for the teaching profession will establish the battlefield for next year’s election.

Republicans have the opportunity to own and make 2018 the “Year of the Teacher.” If they seize the day, Arizona taxpayers, parents, teachers and children will win.

 

BOOM! Arizona lawmakers pass broad ESA expansion

by Matthew Ladner

Arizona lawmakers passed legislation tonight that will phase in near universal eligibility for ESA program. This will start with public school students in kindergarten and 1st grade, 6th grade and 9th grade in 2017-18, and then add grades from the on ramps (K,1,2 and 6,7 and 9-10 in year 2 and the next year K,1,2,3 and 6,7,8,9,10,11). The bill will also increase academic transparency and improve administration of the program.

Governor Doug Ducey’s stalwart support of expanding options proved crucial to this victory. Huge kudos to the bill sponsor Senator Lesko and Rep. Allen as well as the members who took a tough vote in the face of determined opposition. Groups including the American Federation for Children, Americans for Prosperity Arizona, the Arizona Catholic Conference, the Arizona Chamber, the Center for Arizona Policy, Ed Choice, Excel in Ed and the Goldwater Institute all made vital contributions. Senator Worsley also deserves recognition as someone who played the role of honest broker in crafting a compromise that a winning coalition in each chamber supported. We’d all like to live in a world where there was no need to compromise, but that world is not the one we find ourselves in.

The Census Bureau recently announced that Maricopa County (Phoenix metro) as the fastest growing county in the nation-nudging out the Houston area. Enrollment growth is firing up again and the expanded ESA will give parents a broadening array of private educational choices to consider in what is already a robust public choice market. ESAs are an unfolding experiment in liberty, and future legislatures will debate further refinements and improvements, but this is the first big private choice victory of 2017, so…

Shawnna Bolick Receives Endorsement from Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio

Shawnna Bolick

Shawnna Bolick Receives Endorsement from Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio

Phoenix, AZ- February 4, 2014- Today, Shawnna Bolick received Sal DiCiccio’s endorsement for Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 28.  Bolick has helped Councilman DiCiccio on government and pension reforms over the past several years.

“So much of what we have achieved here in Phoenix—from pension reform to competitiveness to government transparency and accountability—has to echo at the state level or our gains will mean little.  We need smart, tough legislators who are willing to fight for the people who pay the bills.  As a tireless advocate for school choice, small business, and the taxpayers, Shawnna demonstrates on a daily basis that she has the vision and backbone we need at the State Capitol.  That is why I give my unqualified support to Shawnna Bolick, candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in LD-28.”

“I am honored to have Councilman DiCiccio’s endorsement.  Sal and I both care about being most prudent with the taxpayer’s dollars.  We also believe taxpayers are adults and can handle the truth.  Together, we can effectuate necessary reforms from the local and state level to ensure Arizona is on sound footing,” stated Bolick.

Shawnna Bolick has lived in Legislative District 28 for over a decade.  She has worked for education-related non-profits since the late 1990s.  Shawnna and Clint, her husband, have two children, Ryne (11) and Kali (8 ½), plus their five year old rescued greyhound, Beary Goldwater, in the shadows of Squaw Peak.

 ###

 

Shawnna L.M. Bolick can be reached via email at info@bolickforarizona.com, or via cell at 602.842-1912.  For more information about her campaign, please visit www.BolickforArizona.com.

Arizona: a Champion in Education Choice, should also be a Champion in Energy Choice

Ask any conservative if they support school choice and the answer is most likely a resounding, “Yes!” School choice empowers parents, families, communities and it reasserts parental control and autonomy back into the issue of education.

While some parents choose to send their child to public school, others may choose private schools, charter schools or even home school their children themselves. Choice in education makes sense and it should make the same sense when it comes to energy choice.

Here in Arizona, conservative lawmakers have pushed and enacted legislation promoting and protecting choice in education while reducing or offsetting the cost to parents who opt out of the public education system. These creative ways to reduce the burden of public education have been in the form of donations that reduce a family’s or business tax liability. It has led to Arizona becoming one of the most prolific school choice states in the country.

Now imagine if the powerful teachers unions were able to capture control of the Arizona Legislature and Executive and began to repeal every law protecting your choice in education. Gone would be scholarship tax credits for families and business. Imagine if the public education monopoly were to control Arizona’s education system to the point where it was almost impossible for charter, private and even homeschooling families to exercise their choice in education. That’s what is about to happen right here in Arizona’s energy market.

It’s about to become very difficult for anyone using residential rooftop solar to continue using this technology to generate their own power – if APS has their way.

In recent years, improvements in technology have allowed energy consumers to afford residential-based power generation technology such as wind and solar units. Consumers have had the choice to generate their own electricity for their own personal needs and even supply excess power back to the main grid. It’s energy choice in action.

Unfortunately, big utility companies like APS see your choice as a threat to their bottom line and have started pressuring rule makers at the Arizona Corporation Commission to change the rules. Specifically, APS would like to see the ACC eliminate the policy net metering which allows energy consumers to provide any excess electricity back to the main power grid and thus reduce their overall energy consumption and cost. APS would essentially regain its monopoly power by erecting a barrier to entry to your ability to supply the grid. Overall, our main grid would lose out by not having thousands of consumers contributing clean power back to the grid.

I started out this editorial by describing how choice in education benefits everyone in Arizona by improving options and reducing the cost and burden on families and corporations. In several ways, energy choice is very much like school choice because everyone benefits, especially here in sun-rich Arizona.

When big utility companies like APS make an effort to take our choice and incentives away in order to protect their bottom line, let’s remind our elected officials whose best interest they’re supposed to serve. Siding with APS on the issue of energy choice would be akin to siding with teachers unions on education choice. Energy choice is as important as choice in education is and Arizona can demonstrate leadership in this arena. After all, that’s what Republican values are all about.

Shane Wikfors is the creator and editor of Sonoran Alliance and a longtime Arizona conservative Republican activist. He is also owner of Red Mountain Consulting & Development and has been an advocate of non-subsidized, consumer-based, taxpayer-friendly energy diversity and sustainability.

1) The Numbers Tell the Story – Here are a few important numbers for you: 13, 51, 114.

  • 13 is the number of Center for Arizona Policy-supported bills that were signed into law this session. Simply put, Arizona is a better place for families today than it was 5 months ago because of these bills.
  • 51 is the number of CAP-supported bills signed into law since 2009 when Governor Brewer took office. These last 4 years show the difference we can make when we elect pro-life and pro-family leaders to the legislature and Governor’s office.
  • 114 is the number of CAP-supported bills signed into law since 1995. Each of these bills takes important steps to protect the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty.

While our work is far from over, these numbers exemplify what the Lord can do when we engage in the political process and vote our values.

2) The Final Victories of the Session – Governor Jan Brewer signed the 3 remaining CAP-supported bills on her desk last Friday and Monday. These 3 bills were no minor pieces of legislation – they were bold policies that will have a tangible impact on the lives of Arizonans. Click here to read more about HB 2622, SB 1365, and HB 2625. Click here to read Governor Brewer’s news release on why she signed HB 2625 – one of the most attacked and distorted pieces of legislation this session.

While I am sincerely grateful to Governor Jan Brewer for signing these bills, I am also thankful for the many legislators that supported these and the other CAP-supported bills.

Earlier this week, we released our 2012 Family Issues Voting Record reporting on how every legislator voted on 12 key bills that impact life, marriage and family, and religious liberty. Take time today to find out how your legislator voted and send them a note with your thoughts. Please take time to send a note of thanks to the legislators who stood with us in defense of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty. You can be sure they have heard from those who oppose us.

3) An Unfounded Overreaction – From the time Rep. Justin Olson introduced HB 2800, which says federal family planning funds that pass through the state cannot go to abortion providers, to the time Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law, Planned Parenthood told every media outlet that would listen that this bill would deny low-income families access to medical care.

But as CAP Legislative Counsel Josh Kredit points out on the Foundations Blog, there are nearly 200 clinics across the state that low-income families can visit to access care. What’s more, the vast majority of these clinics actually offer more services than the 14 Planned Parenthood clinics in our state.

4) Don’t Believe the Polls – Recent polls nationwide show support for redefining marriage to supposedly be a 50/50 split with support for same-sex “marriage” growing. Yet as we all know, every time the people vote on marriage, they vote strongly in favor of defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Then we hear, “Well, the younger generation doesn’t believe in marriage.” Yes, we do have significant challenges to restore the value of marriage in our culture. But don’t miss this fact tweeted by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins yesterday: if the votes of everyone 45+ were discounted in NC, the marriage amendment would have still passed by 8 percentage points. Check out this analysis by American Enterprise Institute.

http://sonoranalliance.com/28387/

As the Voters Stand For Marriage, the President Stands Opposite

On Tuesday, North Carolina became the 32nd state to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only the union of one man and one woman. The amendment passed with a strong majority – 61 percent – voting in favor.

State marriage amendments are now 32 for 32 – in each state where the people have been able to vote on marriage, the people have said YES! to protecting marriage. Only through the courts and state legislatures have advocates in a small minority of states been able to redefine marriage to include same sex couples.

On Wednesday, after this historic vote in North Carolina, President Barack Obama made some history of his own, becoming the first sitting U.S. President to support redefining marriage, the cornerstone of our society.

The President’s announcement was no surprise to those who have followed his statements on marriage. It’s a relief to have the President finally state his position clearly so that no one can doubt or explain away how the President views marriage. I will leave it to the political pundits to dissect the President’s motivation and timing for his statement. This much is clear however — within hours, those favoring same-sex marriage began donating significant dollars to re-elect President Obama.

National Reaction

The backlash against the President’s flip flop on marriage has come from across the country.

Alliance Defense Fund’s Litigation Staff Counsel Jim Campbell said, “This shows that the Obama administration doesn’t understand the public purpose of marriage. Marriage – the lifelong, faithful union of one man and one woman – is the building block of a thriving society. It’s not something that politicians should attempt to redefine for political purposes. The President has spoken eloquently about how fatherless homes often hurt children and society. Today’s statement is a tragic contradiction that promotes the creation of even more fatherless and motherless homes.”

Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council said “The President’s announcement today that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage finally brings his words in sync with his actions. From opposing state marriage amendments to refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) to giving taxpayer funded marriage benefits to same-sex couples, the President has undermined the spirit if not the letter of the law.”

Hugh Hewitt pointed out how the President first was “for same sex marriage before he was against it and before he was for it again“, and that “marriage between a man and woman is ordained by God for the happiness of humankind and the building up of society, and that it is to be preferred to any other situation for the raising of children.”

In California, where they are in the midst of defending their marriage amendment in court, known as Proposition 8, Ron Prentice, the Executive Director of the California Family Council said, “The first chapter of the biblical book of James refers to a double-minded man as one who is unstable, “blown and tossed by the wind.” Thank God for the millions of Americans rejecting the president’s view of progress.”

Three Bills Remain on the Governor’s Desk

Three CAP-supported bills remain on the governor’s desk, awaiting her action:

  • HB 2622 enables children attending schools that have received “D” or “F” grades from the state and children adopted from foster homes to be eligible for Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program.
  • SB 1365 protects professionals from losing their state licenses for practicing their faith and strengthens protection for religious organizations that contract with the state.
  • HB 2625 protects religious employers from being forced to violate their religious beliefs by being forced into providing insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and contraception.

She has until Tuesday to act on these bills. Follow our Facebook page for the latest updates.

BREAKING NEWS: Help is on the Way for Children on Waiting Lists

Governor Jan Brewer has signed SB 1047 to expand Arizona’s Tuition Tax Credit program. This law creates a new tax credit specifically designed to help the thousands of Arizona students currently on waiting lists to attend the private school of their parents’ choice.

Under this new law, individuals can receive an additional $500 dollar-for-dollar tax credit, and married couples $1,000 – that doubles the amount you can already receive in tax credits to help children attend the school of their family’s choice!

What’s more – the scholarship tax credit program actually saves the state money! The average cost to taxpayers per student in a public school is over $8,500 while the average tax credit scholarship is around $2,000, providing much-needed cost savings to the state.

Despite the efforts of some in the Legislature to derail the bill, SB 1047 got overwhelming support in both the state House and Senate, thanks in part to the efforts of the bill’s sponsor, Senator Rick Murphy.

Click to see how your representatives and senator voted.

Please take time today to send Governor Brewer a note on her website, thanking her for signing this bill, and for her ongoing commitment to improving education in Arizona by expanding school choice.

The Discussion Our Nation Needs to Have

I had “50-yard-line” seats at the Mesa Center for the Arts for the Presidential Debate this week. The conversation finally turned to a rarely discussed but very critical topic – the family and the economy.

With the eyes of the nation on the Arizona debate, the four candidates shared why our nation’s future is at risk when 40% of children are born out of wedlock.

We all must realize – this is not just a “social” issue – it’s an economic issue.

Our nation’s economy is only as strong as our families. For far too long public policy and our culture has weakened the family by attacking marriage and stifling any honest conversation about the importance of intact homes composed of a married mom and dad with children.

President Ronald Reagan described the three major interests of our nation as a three-legged stool: a strong economy, a strong foreign policy, and strong families. We need all three in order for our country to endure.

Call to Prayer

Marriage between a man and a woman is lifegiving, and a majority of Americans understand this.

Yet marriage is under constant assault. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled the California marriage amendment was unconstitutional. In Washington State, a bill was signed into law to completely redefine marriage. The New Jersey legislature passed legislation to do the same, but Governor Christie vetoed it. Maryland’s legislature recently passed similar legislation, and their governor has vowed to sign the bill.

The attacks are coming from all sides. In response, Alliance Defense Fund has called for a National Pray for Marriage Day this Sunday, February 26. This prayer guide offers suggestions to pray for a restoration of marriage in America. While there is much work to be done to protect marriage in America, we must always remember to go to the Lord first, because only He can bring us victory. Take time this Sunday to pray for marriage!

Legislative Victory! First CAP-supported Bill Heads to the Governor

SB 1047, which increases the amount individuals can receive in tax credits for donations to School Tuition Organizations to $500, and married couples to $1,000, is on Governor Brewer’s desk! These new scholarship dollars are solely designated for children on waiting lists who attend public schools and want to go to the private school of their parents’ choice.

Governor Brewer has 5 days to act on this bill. Be sure to follow our Facebook page and Bill Tracker to get the latest updates.

Have you ever been to the State Capitol?
We’ve hosted a number of Inside Looks at the Capitol since session began to give CAP supporters a peek into our daily work and how it is making Arizona a better place for families. These one-hour tours are free and allow you to interact with me and some of the other members of the CAP team. I hope you can join us and bring a friend on March 6 or March 21. The tours run from noon-1:00 p.m. You must RSVP in advance by emailing insidelook@azpolicy.org.

Babies and Their Mothers Need Your Help

I’ve never witnessed a hearing like the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.

The 9-member committee was considering the CAP-supported Mother’s Health and Safety Act, HB 2838. This legislation would ban abortions after 20 weeks of a pregnancy. Without a doubt this bill would save the lives of preborn children because there were 210 abortions at 20 weeks or later in 2011 in Arizona.

Planned Parenthood pulled out all the stops to block this bill from passing. After attacking me in an email to supporters, they brought a dozen or more pro-abortion doctors and activists to this hearing to distort the facts of the bill, and tell members to vote against it.

Unfortunately, our medical expert who was scheduled to testify was unable to attend the hearing because he was doing what great pro-life OB/GYN doctors do – deliver babies!

Because our doctor was not able to testify, and because of the outrageous claims made by Planned Parenthood’s “experts,” the committee’s chairman decided to hold the bill until next week. Yet, as of today, he has not put the bill on the agenda.

While I am confident the bill will get a hearing and the committee will ultimately pass the legislation, the pro-life community has to make their voice heard now.

Going to vote on Election Day is not enough to ensure that pro-life bills pass. Your legislators need to hear from you and be supported to stand for life.

You better believe that Planned Parenthood’s backers are making their opinions known. It is all of our responsibility to counter their attacks with truth and encouragement.

Please, click here to respond to our Action Alert to support HB 2838.

Never Giving Up on Life
The most moving part of our hearing on Wednesday came from Rep. Justin Pierce. Following Planned Parenthood testimony about the importance for parents to be able to abort their children who have “little chance of surviving after birth,” Representative Justin Pierce shared a personal story about his nephew, who was given little to no chance of surviving outside of the womb. Click here to see the rest of the story. This is a must-see video for everyone involved in the abortion debate.

Women Speak Out: Defund Planned Parenthood
The House Health Committee did pass HB 2800 to end backdoor funding of abortion. On Thursday, I joined our friends from Susan B. Anthony List at a press conference outside the Glendale Planned Parenthood. Visit our Facebook page to view some of the photos from the event.

School Choice Victory!
The Arizona House gave final passage to SB 1047 to expand Arizona’s scholarship tax credit program so children on waiting lists have a chance to attend the private schools chosen by their parents. This critical CAP-supported and negotiated bill should reach Gov. Brewer’s desk next week. There was so much more that happened at the Legislature this week. We’re posting regular updates to our Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as keeping our Bill Tracker up-to-date so you can follow all the action.