Arizona Legislative District 7 legislators, Navajo Nation, oppose federal effort to expand tribal private school vouchers

(Photo: Gage Skidmore [CC BY 2.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/2.0])

Arizona voters - including the Navajo Nation - resoundingly rejected a proposed expansion of state-funded vouchers in the 2018 election

News Release

Arizona House Democrats

Legislative District 7 (Navajo Nation) Representatives Myron Tsosie, Arlando Teller, and Senator Jamescita Peshlakai today spoke out in opposition to a proposed expansion of private school vouchers using federal instead of state funds introduced by Mesa Congressman Andy Biggs and supported by Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer. Biggs introduced his legislation, which is aimed at convincing American Indian parents to pull their children out of public schools in favor of subsidized private or religious education. Arizona voters - including the Navajo Nation which Tsosie, Teller and Peshlakai represent - resoundingly rejected a proposed expansion of state-funded vouchers in the 2018 election.

"Whether state-funded or federally funded, vouchers are a coordinated effort to siphon support from public schools and inject it into private and parochial schools," Representative Tsosie said. "I'm tired of politicians like Biggs and organizations like AFC using indigenous children as pawns as they try to gain more taxpayer dollars to expand their reach. I'm especially disappointed in Vice President Lizer for lending his support to this counter-productive idea."

"Education is the great equalizer, but this legislation will create unequal foundations by undermining all public education in Indian country. Historically, federal Indian education policy has struck at the heart of tribal identity, and this legislation does no less," said Senator Peshlakai. "At a time when Indigenous people are struggling to retain spiritual ways, language, and community, leaders should be defending our children from thinly veiled profiteering. The Navajo Nation is the tip of the spear in the effort of retaining indigenous culture and holding to traditions. Now is the time for tribal nations to teach the future generations of leaders by exercising sovereignty. All must reject this legislation."

"As a proud product of public schools, I do not support any more tax dollars going to private schools," Representative Teller said. "All the architects of Arizona's controversial voucher movement – including former Senate President Biggs and the American Federation for Children – are also at work on this proposal. Fortunately, Rep. Biggs is in the minority in Congress and I expect this misguided idea will go nowhere fast."

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