Rural communities depend on public schools so that students can acquire the skills and knowledge to become critical thinkers ready to seize their futures. But these valuable tools are threatened by reactionary forces seeking to cut funding and give it to private schools.

Arizona, for example, now has one of the largest school voucher programs in the nation. The attack on public education will likely balloon education costs while increasing the risk that rural schools will have to cut programs or even close.

To meet these challenges, nonpartisan, community-based groups like RDI grantee Save our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ) are fighting to protect public education so that vibrant schools are accessible to all. SOSAZ organizes year-round and empowers parents, teachers, and community members to advocate for public schools that meet the needs of their communities.

In 2022, they contacted 2.2 million Arizona voters and increased midterm turnout in rural counties like Pinal and Yavapai. These efforts helped elect public education champions at all levels of government. Fifty-nine #PublicSchoolProud school board members took office. Many education champions were elected to the state legislature, including Keith Seaman, a retired public school teacher and local school district board member, who campaigned on rural priorities such as public education, healthcare, water, and fair elections. SOSAZ also supported the election of Katie Hobbs, the first pro-public education Governor in 14 years! These electoral victories will help ensure communities have the public school resources they need.