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Yarbrough: Reporter bias in ‘Trib’s’ STO series

Rep. Steve Yarbrough told our reporter the East Valley Tribune’s exposé on STOs and private school tuition tax credits was slanted to fit the pre-determined story angle that the tax credits were ineffective and are being abused. “I’m waiting for a discussion of the positives of school choice,” he said yesterday (Aug. 3). “But that doesn’t fit the bias of the publication, in my view.” For instance, he said there was no mention of the General Fund savings created: If the students using the scholarships went to public schools, it would cost “three to four times as much” in state funding.

Saturday’s story focused on the lack of oversight on the donations to STOs and the ways in which the system, which was touted by some proponents as a way to increase private school access for poor students, has only served to help more “privileged” students attend private schools. Yarbrough complained the reporters, Ryan Gabrielson and Michelle Reese, “cherry-picked” parents who could afford tuitions but still took the scholarships.

To read more on this item plus all the stories in the Aug. 4 Yellow Sheet Report, go to www.yellowsheetreport.com (Yellow Sheet Subscription Required).

3 comments

  1. Steve Yarbrough makes MILLIONS of tax payer dollars off his STO scheme. It is a bit rich for him to sniffle about ‘bias’…especially when he himself sponsored HB2288 last month (despite our $3 billion deficit and massive cuts to public schools).

    HB2288, which was signed by Gov Brewer into law, DOUBLES the amount of corporate tax credits going to School Tuition Organizations like Yarbrough’s every four years – with NO cap.

  2. Nice attempt to redirect the attention off of the failure of the private tax credit program and back onto the parents. In my opinion, the parents do not come across as trumpeting their ability to game the system when they could otherwise pay.

    In fact, Mr. Bolick made it quite clear in his own contribution that the schools themselves were also complicit in instructing parents as to the “advantages” available to them. Additionally, Ms. Henderson’s comments re: “recommendations” also fail to paint the STO program with the rainbow colored brush Rep. Yarbrough might have been hoping for.

    What’s more, the tax credit program is failing to benefit the very population it was intended to. Valley Christian High School is an alarming example of segregation, where the hispanic population has failed to grow since the inception of private school tax credits.

    The bottom line is regardless of the savings, the STO program appears to promote segregation (or at least ignore associated private schools that do), is dancing around constitutional challenges and is flying in the face of federal tax law re: contributions to nonprofits.

    Rep. Yarbrough’s complaint that parents were cherry picked yields rings appears to be his attempt to blame it on “a few bad apples.” Just even one parent, STO, and/or private school that games the system is one too many for a program designed to offer low-income families “school choice.”

  3. Wow, that’s bold of Yarbrough. He’s trying to take the spotlight off himself and STOs and make it seem like it’s a few parents misusing the system. Yarbrough’s a corrupt politician making MILLIONS off of tax payers dollars with his STO (and shell companies). How is that saving money out of the general fund?!?!?!

    Also, the articles need to take a closer look at Clint Bolick’s contributions to the STO mess. He’s NOT the hero the article makes him sound. Someone needs to look into his 990s for the STO board he sits on!!!!

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