One of the country’s premier champions of school choice is marketing taxpayer-funded school vouchers to Spanish-speaking parents, informing them their immigration status is irrelevant to obtaining funds for their children to attend private schools.
A report at AZCentral observed that the American Federation for Children (AFC) is promoting school choice in Arizona with an online notice to Spanish-speaking parents. The notice concerns the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program which, according to the report, gives “public money that would otherwise go to local public schools to parents to use for private school and other educational services.”
ESAs, the report continues, “have been strongly supported by the Arizona Legislature’s Republican majority.”
The news report adds:
Many of those same lawmakers have also opposed illegal immigration and in-state college tuition for undocumented immigrants, including “dreamers” — the young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.
“The Supreme Court ruled in the Plyler decision that free public education cannot by denied to any student from Kindergarten to the last year of high school (12th grade) due to their parents’ migration status,” the AFC notice to Spanish-speaking parents states. “Just like the public education system, the ESA program does not require proof of income, proof of migration status, and children do not need to have certain grades to enter the ESA program, according to the ESA law.”
Kim Martinez, AFC Arizona communications director, said immigration status isn’t a factor when applying for an ESA.
“We care about giving children access to the K-12 education of their family’s choice, in full compliance with the law,” she said. “We don’t take positions on tangential immigration issues. Immigration status does not play a factor in ESA eligibility, just like it does not affect whether or not a child can attend an Arizona public school.”
Our goal for every election year is simple: defend and expand educational choice legislative majorities across the country. In 2018, our teams did just that! Check out our 2018 Election Impact Report to see how: https://t.co/2gUD6x5fMo #SchoolChoice pic.twitter.com/lRbeSu9miF
— Am Fed for Children (@SchoolChoiceNow) January 7, 2019
Arizona state Sen. John Kavanagh, a Republican, acknowledged that because ESAs are taxpayer funds and federal law prohibits the state from asking about a student’s immigration status, the funds can be used for illegal aliens. He said, nevertheless, that he opposes marketing ESAs to people who are in the country illegally.
“We passed ESA to promote good education, not illegal immigration,” Kavanagh said. “I strongly object to someone to try to divert public funding to people who are here illegally.”
Dawn Penich-Thacker, spokeswoman for Save Our Schools Arizona, said marketing ESAs to illegal aliens shows “the level of hypocrisy that exists with some of these special-interest dark-money groups.”
“At the same time, they’ll bang the drum of ‘rule of law’ and ‘taxpayer accountability’ and yet simultaneously be marketing to a population of families that we might speculate that some of their top donors don’t want them marketing to,” she added.
School choice champion Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was chairwoman of AFC prior to being confirmed to her current post.
In May 2017, DeVos addressed AFC’s National Policy Summit, asserting that “every state should provide choices and embrace equal opportunity in education.”
“If a state doesn’t want to participate, that would be a terrible mistake on their part,” she continued. “They will be hurting the children and families who can least afford it. If politicians in a state block education choice, it means those politicians do not support equal opportunity for all kids.”