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What the education budget says about Az

Guest Writer
Guest Opinion


The way we spend our money says a lot about us, and where we spend our money reflects our values.

For example, do we donate to a charity before we ensure that we have enough for a nice vacation?

The way the government spends our money says a lot about the values of those elected to office.

Of course, the complexity of even a single state’s budget is incredibly difficult to reduce to a simple statement of ideals. But a few facts about Arizona’s budget seem to suggest glaring truths.

For example, before the current budget crisis, Arizona spent less money per student in its public schools than 48 of the 50 states. Clearly Arizona’s government does not value public education.

Arizona was ranked 49th in spending-per-student in better economic times of the past.

The budget that was just passed will further cut K-12 spending $133 million, and the university system $142 million. This translates approximately into a $56 million reduction in the University of Arizona’s budget, according to President Robert Shelton, and perhaps $20 million from Tucson’s K-12 schools (though it could be more).

Teachers and staff will lose jobs, student classes will increase in size, tuition will rise, and the quality of education will decline.

In one sense, the fact that education is not valued by Arizonans is reflected in the educational achievements of our legislators. Many of them have never earned a college degree.

It seems odd that they get to decide how our state will value education, as they have not even attempted to do something that most parents hope their children will achieve.

It’s sad that the actions of undereducated legislators make earning a college degree so much more difficult for the average Arizonan child.

It’s time for Arizonans to assert that we do value education. Otherwise, it appears that we are comfortable with the knowledge that the average Arizonan student has fewer opportunities to maximize his learning than students in other states.

If you support Arizona children and youth, please tell a state legislator that they are doing these kids a terrible disservice by continually under-funding the schools.

And if you really don’t care about our children and their education, would you please consider moving to Pittsburgh, or anywhere outside the state? Arizona needs help leveling the playing field.

Brian Moon, is an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Arizona School of Music and Bulletin Reviews editor for the Society for American Music.

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