Writing in his blog, ‘Caveat Lector’, Mark Evans of the TucsonCitizen.org has come out against Prop 204, the continuation of the 1 cent tax surcharge meant to assist funding for education in Arizona. 1) Speaking from a purely economic viewpoint he argues persuasively against the measure saying that it is the wrong approach to curing the woes of educational funding in Arizona because it ties the hands of the state legislature and forces them to fund education when our economy is weak. He argues that they need the discretionary freedom to decide where funding will be directed. In his defense, let me add that Mr. Evans is not against funding education, but he would rather the populace simply vote out the current crop of lawmakers and elect ones that will adequately fund education in our state.
I’m sorry Mark but I have to disagree with you on several counts.
First, if you had spent every working day in our schools over the last few years you would see the damage that is being enacted upon our educators and the students of our schools.
Let me give an example. For the last two years our school’s redoubtable attendance clerk has worked part-time in our library so children can check out books. She performed admirably but use of the library was severely limited. This year I lauded the reopening of the school year because our library had an actual librarian in it. True, the library is only open half-time because we have to share that person with another school but at least we are halfway back to where we once were.
What’s even more damaging in this situation is that by adopting the Common Core we have basically put teachers back at square one, or very close to it in creating their curricular materials. The place that is best able to support teachers in this is . . . you guessed it, the library. A recent article by Catherine Gewertz focuses on that exact issue. 2) A library that is only open half-time or worse, shuttered is not going to be as much help to educational growth.
Another reason I disagree with your post is that we have no guarantee that any of these legislators will be voted out. Getting rid of an incumbent has become nearly impossible in our current political system. To sit by and watch them slowly choke the life out of my profession because of their malfeasance without doing anything about it is unacceptable. This is one of the few ways we have to fight back.
When you argue against tying the hands of our legislature I reply that tying their hands is only the beginning of what I would have done to them for their crimes against the children of Arizona. Their attack against public education notwithstanding they have seriously damaged all education services in our state. It is no wonder no major business wants to relocate here.
Finally, because I am a career professional educator I also recognize that my colleagues have taken on more and more responsibilities and duties each year. Now comes the Common Core, an almost entirely new curriculum that will demand more resources to be able to adequately employ it in the classroom. While I am in favor of national standards if they are implemented properly, Rick Hess writing in his blog reports very little correlation between the new standards and typical existing curricular material. 3) Teachers, already stressed in their workplace and by attitudes exacerbated by political posturing are reeling at yet another strike at their professionalism and competency. Our schools have suffered through enough unfunded mandates in the last decade with NCLB and ESEA. The least we can do is try and provide a small increase in resources to assist this transition.
These are just a few reasons why this ReTired Teacher will be voting ‘yes’ on 204.