Erik Twist, Charter School Headmaster, Blasts Education Funding Initiative, Prop 204, in E-mail to Parents
Erik Twist, the headmaster of a Phoenix charter school, blasted an e-mail to school parents outlining the reasons to vote against Proposition 204, an initiative estimated to generate about $1 billion a year mostly for education funding -- including for charter schools.
www.cox7.com Erik Twist represents the anti-Prop 204 interests during a 2012 Ballot Measure Town Hall
It's causing a stir among some parents.
Arizona law prohibits school officials from using "school district or charter school personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or other resources for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of elections."
Twist, headmaster of Archway Classical Academy Veritas near 56th Street and Thomas Road, apparently wrote the e-mail at school, around noon on Friday, October 12, and then had Ami Hosack, the school's office manager, send it to everyone in the school's contact list.
Voters will consider on November 6 whether to approve the initiative, which prohibits state lawmakers from further cutting education funding and permanently extends the one-cent sales tax voters overwhelmingly approved in 2010. That tax is set to expire in 2013.
Twist describes in his message to parents how Prop 204 would "throw taxpayer money indiscriminately" into the flawed education system, and fund "everything from education to special interests."
Daniel Scoggin, the chief executive officer for Great Hearts Academies, the non-profit network of public charter schools that includes Archway Veritas, says that Twist was speaking on behalf of himself, not Great Hearts.
But Scoggin also adds that Twist was responding to many questions he had received from parents about the school-funding initiative. And Twist did end his message to parents with this official title -- headmaster.
Some parents are angry that Twist used his position -- and school resources, such as the parents' e-mail list -- in an attempt to persuade them to vote against education-funding measure.
Sources tell New Times that some parents plan to file complaints against Twist with the Attorney General's Office. We've got a call in to the AG's Office to confirm whether that's happened.
In his e-mail, Twist dismisses the at least $800 million for education funding in the proposition, and instead mentions unnamed "special interest" groups that will benefit from the money. And, he complains "poorly performing schools are treated the same as successful schools ... [rewarding] equal dollars to both kinds of schools, regardless of performance."
Ann-Eve Pederson, chair of the pro-Prop 204 campaign, says that 12 percent of money set aside for K-12 education is only released if school performance shows improvement in measure such as graduation rates, third graders reading at appropriate levels and test scores.
In response to Twist's criticism that "poorly performing schools" get "equal dollars," Pederson says it is important to note that many of the "failing schools" are located in challenged parts of the state -- on Native American lands, inner cities and other areas with stark poverty.
"The idea that we would defund education in the areas that need it most doesn't make sense," she says. "Sometimes schools that are struggling need additional support to be successful."
It might seem odd that an official from a charter school system -- which receives 80 percent of its funding from public money and asks parents to help bridge the 20 percent gap by contributing at least $1,200 per student -- would politick against a measure to protect education funding from further cuts at the state legislature and extend a popular education tax.
But Twist isn't just any headmaster.