John Huppenthal, Arizona Schools Chief, Shilling for Private Schools

Categories: News
arizona-education-building.jpg
By Matthew Hendley


Here's some advice from John Huppenthal, Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction: You should find out if you can send your kids to private school on the state's dime.

That's what the state's schools chief is saying in robocalls to people in certain areas around Phoenix and Tucson encouraging them to check out Arizona's Empowerment Scholarship Account program. The program literally uses the money that would have gone to a student's public school district, which is instead put into an account parents can use on private-school fees.

See also:
-Lawmakers Look to Expand Eligibility on Controversial "Empowerment Scholarships"

12 News' Brahm Resnik had the scoop about the existence of these robocalls, in which Huppenthal says:
This is John Huppenthal, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, and I have great news for you. I want you to know about a state program that provides money for parents to offer alternative education choices for their children, including private school. That's right! You may be able to send your child to private school for free.
It didn't take long for the Republican Huppenthal's detractors to follow the money. The robocalls were paid for by a group called the Alliance for School Choice. What looks like another group, the American Federation for Children, lists the Alliance for School Choice as its "educational partner." Turns out, both organizations list the same exact six-member board of directors, and the same exact 28 employees, with the exact same job titles (Exhibit A, Exhibit B). They're the same organization.

john-huppenthal-portrait.jpg
azed.gov
John Huppenthal.
When Huppenthal was on the campaign trail in 2010, the American Federation for Children spent more than $63,000 in the race as an independent-expenditure committee in favor of Huppenthal.

A Facebook page for the Arizona branch of the American Federation for Children also touts Huppenthal as the keynote speaker for one of its "National School Choice Week" events.

Meanwhile, the amount of taxpayer funding that goes toward these Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) that Huppenthal's touting has been on the rise, and it's likely to grow some more.

The program was started in 2011 so children with physical and mental disabilities could attend schools that might do a better job at serving them. The next year, lawmakers expanded the program to include eligibility for foster children, children with one or more parents on active-duty in the military, and children enrolled in public schools that received grades of "D" or "F" from the Arizona Department of Education.

A bill proposed this legislative session would expand the ESA program even more, so children of police officers and firefighters would qualify, as would siblings of children already in the program and all families below a certain economic threshold, at a rate that increases every year.

A legislative liaison for the Arizona Department of Education recently told our New Times colleague Sarah Dinell that a majority of Arizona students could end up qualifying.

Remember, the money for these accounts doesn't come out of thin air -- it's the per-pupil spending that otherwise would have gone to a public school district.

And that's what the state's superintendent of "public instruction" is advocating in these robocalls.

In Huppenthal's interview with 12 News, he said he's in charge of education for all members of the public, and insisted he's not the superintendent of public schools.

Wednesday, Huppenthal ended up sending an e-mail to public-school teachers taking a bit of a different tone, and insisted that he still supports the public-school system:
As Superintendent of Public Instruction, the voters of this state elected me to lead our public school system and work to ensure every child in Arizona has access to quality education.

My remarks regarding Empowerment Scholarship Accounts and my reason for agreeing to inform families of this opportunity was to apprise parents of a unique program, not advocate for private school instruction over that of a public school education. These scholarship accounts provide a unique option for children with disabilities, members of military families and students attending failing schools, which includes, but is not limited to attending a private school.

I want to make it clear that I have the utmost respect and admiration for all of our public school teachers. I work tirelessly every day to assure teachers and educators are supported, students are provided with excellent education opportunities and parents have information they need to make quality choices for their children. I have great regret if any member of the public school system felt anything less than my full appreciation for what they do on a daily basis.
Robbie Sherwood, the executive director of the lefty group ProgressNow Arizona, said it's like the public schools system is "under a coordinated Trojan Horse attack by its own elected leader."

"It's becoming increasingly clear that John Huppenthal did not run to lead Arizona's public school system, but to dismantle it from within," he said.

Send feedback and tips to the author.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.



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33 comments
mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

And what would you expect from a man who never spent a day in  public school? He attended two catholic Schools in Tucson - St. John's (1-8) and Salpointe high school..His staff was very reluctant to release that information. 

TRUTHDOTCOM
TRUTHDOTCOM

As a product of both private schools and public, private education far exceeds public shooling tenfold, needless to say the learning and social environments are bar none.  Seriously, who wants to send their kids to a school of failure?  So they can work themselves to the bone at a subpar job? I'll pass...

Reggievv
Reggievv

Disgusting. Resign now. It took a while for the $63,000 from the Amway hand cream company to be paid back. But John found a way.

nell.infernoaz
nell.infernoaz

There are many players in the war on public ed. This liar said he wanted to lead as Superintendent of Public Instruction. It looks like he really wants to use public tax dollars to fund private enterprise. Obviously, his lack of education experience has diminished his potential to lead Arizona public schools, so he should resign his publicly paid position and go to work marketing private enterprise.

Gary Eff
Gary Eff

Ask Wesley Snipes, Lauryn Hill, or Martha Stewart if taxation is voluntary.

Gary Eff
Gary Eff

Of course taxation is theft. If it were voluntary people would not be threatened and caged for not paying. If it's not voluntary it's theft.

Kevin Neely
Kevin Neely

Taxes are not, never have been, and never will be extortion. Idiot

Don Blank
Don Blank

He's as bad as his predecessor

Lisa Kaiser
Lisa Kaiser

John Huppenthal should be fired recalled, impeached, voted out of office. Can he be impeached?? Will have to check the AZ Constitution. I hope Progressive Arizona will lead a recall effort.

Michael Schilling
Michael Schilling

As I predicted a year ago... 2014/2015 class size >35 students/class. Oh and here is the ultimate slap in the face. The teachers have already been informed of budget cuts for the next 3 years.

Michael Schilling
Michael Schilling

I truly feel sorry for AZ educators, on so many levels. The whole system is disgusting, from the top politicians all the way down to the voters and parents, it's an abomination.

JustJosh42
JustJosh42

"The program literally uses the money that would have gone to a student's public school district, which is instead put into an account parents can use on private-school fees."


AMEN!!!! Let the parents spend the tax dollars taken from them as they see fit to best educate their kids. Sounds to me lik ethis man is a God send. In Belgium (ranked far beyond us in terms of education) every dollar for education is bound to the kid not the schools or districts. That way the parents can vote for quality education with their dollars ensuring the best possible education outcome. Sounds to me like this guy is taking example from a system that seems to work perfectly and applying it to a clearly failed one.

Joshua Richard
Joshua Richard

"The program literally uses the money that would have gone to a student's public school district, which is instead put into an account parents can use on private-school fees." AMEN!!!! Let the parents spend the tax dollars taken from them as they see fit to best educate their kids. Sounds to me lik ethis man is a God send. In Belgium (ranked far beyond us in terms of education) every dollar for education is bound to the kid not the schools or districts. That way the parents can vote for quality education with their dollars ensuring the best possible education outcome. Sounds to me like this guy is taking example from a system that seems to work perfectly and applying it to a clearly failed one.

Jeff Kee
Jeff Kee

I wonder how much money he's getting from lobbyist. Arizona ranks low on education and this is not helping.

1959cutter
1959cutter

THIS IS WHY BARRY GOLDWATER ENDORSED A DEMOCRAT FOR SCHOOL SUPER!........we miss Barry

car_del99
car_del99

I wonder if he gets a commission on every student enrolled in a private school ?

Gary Eff
Gary Eff

No one should be forced under threat of violence (law) to send their kids to government indoctrination camps and no one should be forced to pay for education through extortion (taxation). Breeders should be solely responsible for providing whatever education they deem appropriate for their kids.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

This should be grounds for impeachment.  He's publicly admitting that HE can't do the job he was elected to do.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Mr Huppenthal, can you say "conflict of interest?" Sure you can.

jonnyquest
jonnyquest topcommenter

I'm hoping for a rematch with Ruth Levine. This time she needs to KICK...HIS...ASS!

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@mikefrombisbee  Well Mike, I suspect he actually received an education.  If he went to public school, chances are he would be illiterate.  

Reggievv
Reggievv

Of course give us the money with no accountability, and no questions asked.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@JustJosh42  WRONG.  If there is a problem with the public schools, USE THE MONEY TO FIX THAT!  Not to provide dollars to religious schools that teach about Jesus riding Dinosaurs!

1959cutter
1959cutter

republicans have commited treason for their cause!

Reggievv
Reggievv

David Garcia is very, very good and should be elected.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@fishingblues ... says the Repuglytard who doesn't know the difference between "believes" and "beliefs" ...


... ROTFLMAO !!



idlewild60
idlewild60

@Reggievv  Yes, that's what the private schools are aiming for---ZERO accountability for them, 100% accountability for public schools.

JustJosh42
JustJosh42

@WhoKnows @JustJosh42  Since "No child left behind" more federal dollars have been spent per child on public education than ever in the history of the US.  We are still falling behind in education rankings.  Spending more $$ on public education is not the answer.  Taking money away and telling them, "get your act together and educate to see the money" is how to fix education.  Schools (teachers) that perform get more money.  Schools that fail lose funding.  This is how markets work.  Success gets rewarded and failure gets punished.  There is a reason that places like Belgium far out perform us.  Schools are forced to perform or else they lose enrollment and in turn funds.  "Private" school also does not imply "religious" school, though often times they are.  Private just means not funded by public funds.  There are many private schools that have nothing to do with religion.  Each and every one of them out performs public education.  Why?  Because they HAVE TO!  If they don't do a kick ass job they lose attendance.  Public scholl get money regardless of how they perform thus no incentive to get better.  Teachers that suck still get tenure.  Really?  Pay for life for being terrible at your job?  I don't think so.  You, perhaps, should stop relying on your public education which has clearly failed to educate you in how markets and incentive based performance works.  Or perhaps you can give me just one single example of how your way has worked in the past, any where in the world.  Just one.  I gave mine and await yours.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @fishingblues  ... says the lowlife twisted twink who cannot construct a sentence,  who believes democracy and capitalism are the same thing, is  a communist and yet knows no difference between communism and socialism, doesn't know that Freud initiated the theory of anal retention and oral  fixation and actually thinks they are the same thing, has no clue as to the relationship between singular and  plural nouns in a sentence, can't  figure the difference between a verb, adjective, noun or pronoun.   Wow, you worthless, illiterate fuck, should I continue?


"rotflmao" -- is that something you learned in 4th grade government school?      

jerk_store
jerk_store

"Schools (teachers) that perform get more money. Schools that fail lose funding. This is how markets work. "

Public education is not a "market". It's not based on free enterprise. Public schools benefit the public, which is why (almost) all of us pay into it. I don't mind my tax dollars going towards that. I do mind my tax dollars going to religious schools that only make kids dumber about science and lots of other subjects.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@JustJosh42 @WhoKnows  Hupenthal is IN CHARGE of PUBLIC schools.  That means FIXING THEM.  And not filling the pockets of private schools.  There is NO excuse to give taxpayer money to private schools.  


If I don't like some things that the GOP does, can I with hold my tax dollars and do it the way I want?  Of course not!  You're living in a fantasy land!

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