Arizona Proposition 204 money will not reach the classroom

| October 2 2012
The Hot Spot

AZ Views . . .

As a longtime teacher in Arizona, I am disappointed that Proposition 204 fails to meet my only test for supporting the ballot initiative: How much of the $1 billion a year raised from increased sales tax revenue will reach teachers and students in the classroom.

Sadly, the answer is hardly any or we do not even know. After considering the initiative carefully, I cannot escape the conclusion that the supporters of 204 do not want us to know.

For years I have heard appeals from educators and parents that we need more money for education in Arizona. Of course we need adequate funding for education to provide conditions and materials conducive to learning. We need dedicated teachers and conscientious parents as well.

If the education establishment is so concerned with education funding, then why did they come up with an initiative that sidesteps the classroom.

The answer to me is simple: Pro-204 organizers support the status quo. Take the money and avoid real reform that would set standards for teachers and students.

Why does 204 have no accountability for how the funds are spent?

Why does it make no distinction between successful and failing schools? Why does it spend so much on bureaucratic record keeping? Why does it provide money for road building and social services programs?

Again, to me it is simple.  The teachers’ union and local school boards want full control of education spending. They dismiss the Governor and State Legislature as stewards of the people’s tax money. They claim elected leaders cannot be trusted with the people’s money. This is not what I teach my students.

Arizona spends a large proportion of tax money on education. Along with public safety, this is a justifiable use of public funds. Education produces informed and mature adults prepared to be productive citizens.

Proposition 204 leaves teachers and students behind. It includes a long list of mandated spending for pet projects that have nothing to do with the classroom. It links “Jobs” with “Quality Education” in the initiative title to justify its sleight of hand earmarks.

As a classroom teacher, I can only conclude that those who wrote Proposition 204 needed special interests to help pay for their initiative campaign and share in their audacious power grab.

A vote for Proposition is a vote for the education status quo. With regret, I will vote against it and look to the future for education funding that assists the students I teach every day.

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