"We the People AZ Against Common Core" filed the referendum on Wednesday, and they are seeking a statewide vote on one portion of the K-12 education budget reconciliation bill passed by both Houses of the Legislature and signed by the Governor earlier this month. They must collect at least 86,405 valid signatures before September 11, 2013 to get it placed on a ballot.
Rather than trying to prevent the entire education bill from going into effect, the organizers have singled out the small portion that doubles the bonding capacity of school districts. Interestingly, the increase applies to bond "elections held both before and after the effective date of this act."
We the People AZ Chair Wesley Harris, formerly a leader of the Original North Phoenix Tea Party organization, tells Arizona's Politics that he is "certain it is aimed at funding Common Core since all such funds were removed from the budget." Harris believes that the section was part of a quid pro quo to get support from some Republicans for the Medicaid (AHCCCCS) Expansion - a measure that is also subject of a referendum drive.
Harris indicates that he intends to get the petition in the hands of the volunteer circulators already working on the AHCCCS Expansion referendum, and that he is playing "catch up" because this bill came up in the Special Session "as a bolt out of the blue."
Common Core is a new set of math and English curriculum standards that are gaining attention throughout the country, and is being encouraged by the U.S. Department of Education. Arizona is one of 46 states that have adopted them, but many conservative groups around the nation are trying to keep them from being implemented. Earlier this week, there was an interesting report on NPR explaining the opposition.
Harris was last in the news last year, when he proposed recalling Senator John McCain (R-AZ), following the Senator's defense of Huma Abedin.
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