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I love how our Republican lawmakers seem to have such a hatred towards education. Maybe if they stepped into the shoes of an educator for a month, maybe they would appreciate more all that they have to do.
Another point, how can the legislators say they can't seem to find the funding for the $82 million they have to pay this year? Last year they put something in the $100's of millions in the state rainy day fund, and this year tax revenues are even higher, which means they will have even more "extra." Yet $82 million is a burden and supposedly means they won't fund other mandates then...
It isn't they don't have the money, the truth is they don't want to fund education like they know they need to. With all the new mandates put upon education, there needs to be more funding in order to keep up, not only logistically, but also to keep teachers' pay competitive with other states. Teachers have to fit a lot more into their days and weeks in order to stay on top of their teaching, grading, extra paperwork from these mandates, etc. I know because of how many extra hours I've put in per week on average this school year compared to other years.
If you have a well-educated populace, you have citizens who will help to draw big business here, who will, in the end, pay more in taxes and do more to help contribute to society.
I'm just tired of hearing the argument, "throwing more money at education won't solve anything." Well, taking away funding the way they have has definitely hurt education. Yes, measures need to be put in place so the money is used wisely, but that is what the new mandates put in place the last two years have already covered. 4 months ago
AZ WIllie-this proposition DOES require the state legislature to maintain the greater of this year's or last year's funding from the general fund. They worded it so that lawmakers could not lower current funding, AND the 1 cent sales tax would be added on top of that to restore funding we've lost in recent years (and it is designated for unfunded mandates by our legislators).
Rich-anytime new standards or new assessments are adopted, new text books have to be adopted and purchased to align with those. Since the state education department is the one who decides on new standards/new assessments/etc., I would suggest starting with them.
AZ Willie-get our legislators to fund education better? Ha ha ha ha!!!! I've been having a crappy couple of weeks, that really made my day! And please understand, I'm not trying to make fun of you, only the idea of actually trusting our current crop of legislators to increase funding for education. I've seen what has happened in recent years and where their priority lies (sometimes prison funding was increased during the recession, but not education. You pay it forward, people!)
Rich-scores in 2007 vs. now-do you realize how many times the format and content of the AIMS has changed? Almost every year. Teachers have to teach to the format as much as the content. It is not a reliable assessment by any means because the state has tweaked it almost every year it has been in existence. What if in your job you were evaluated on a moving target every year, and you never knew what you needed to do to get a good evaluation? Welcome to high-stakes testing in Arizona.
Rich-I invite you to enter some classrooms in the east valley and observe a teacher for a day in each one. I think you will realize there is a whole lot more to this ball of wax we call education than you realized.
Food for thought: as LED has pointed out, funding for education has been systemically cut by the legislature since 1987, except for a short stint when Prop 301 was passed BY THE VOTERS. Our Republican state lawmakers want to continue cutting taxes (which they have also done every year in some form or another for at least the last 15 years), which will only lead to more education cuts because there won't be tax revenue enough to support current levels of funding. You can't cut taxes so much that you have no more income, gee, let's tell our boss that we want him to pay us less and less. Eventually you don't have a house to live in or food to eat. It doesn't add up, and it doesn't make sense. The problem is our lawmakers won't be replaced easily, because the voters are too loyal to party and not loyal enough to doing the right thing, regardless of party affiliation.
And, yes, I am a conservative Republican typing this message. 7 months ago
Our teacher's union only has power accordingly as the district gives it. Not sure about other districts, but I've heard Mesa's is a joke also and has no power to help support teachers at the district level (only one person's viewpoint, so I really don't know for sure).
Leon, your simple solution isn't so simple because education has changed in so many ways since the time you went to school "back in the day." (I thought early 1900's but now I'm thinking 1800's)
Teachers do teach by rote, repetition and homework. They also teach using other methods that can be more effective, especially in light of new technologies that have been created since pencil and paper/Leon's schooling. We teach in whatever way will create the best result in the end, educationally speaking.
Leon, where is your 25% statistic coming from? Please cite the source and post the website, I'd be interested to read about that. Also, stating statistics like that do nothing to prove your point. It could be 4th grade you are referring to, or all high school math scores, or something else. Your statistic is not valid because, for one, I know it is not true from the actual test results I am able to view as a teacher, and two, it is such a broad statistic that it is useless because there is no specificity.
But, then again, what do I know being in the trenches as a teacher every day...
Chuckles, we could divert more tax dollars away from those other things, but there are no "bloated pensions" for teachers. The way state retirement works is you get the average of your last 3 years salary as your pension when you retire (after a required amount of years served, etc., of course). For teachers, that is still not enough to live off of, even with collecting social security as well.
If you divert money away from programs on bullying, you will end up with students doing worse on their standardized tests, because if bullying is not addressed adequately and often, then students who are bullied perform worse. Have you ever been bullied in some way at work by a boss? Did that make your productivity better or worse when you were treated that way? The same goes for students.
What is your solution for "silly pet projects" and "overstaffed administration offices?" The only solution I see to that is either get legislators to write new laws to correct that and make district more accountable for those portions of their budgets (which also, by the way, involves more paperwork which means hiring more secretaries...), or to vote the current legislators out and vote a new crop in who will take care of it somehow. The problem with the second solution is no one in Arizona is willing to vote for the opposite party if that is what it would take, even if that candidate would do a better job, because they want their beliefs to be voted on by their legislators. I'm a conservative Republican, but sometimes a Democrat is better suited for a political office (and vice versa for registered Democrats).
I can tell you that with the recent budget cuts to schools, there is a LOT less waste and a lot more accountability to citizens on the part of districts.
You also have to realize that administrative costs does not just mean office workers, it also means gas for busses (5 years ago gas was under $2, now we are at almost $4/gallon), it means new busses and repairing old busses when needs arise (and funding has dried up for a lot of things by the state), repairs on school buildings that are getting old and falling apart (these funds have dried up too by the state)-all sorts of these are covered under "administrative costs," so just because administrative costs have gone up a little percentage-wise, it doesn't mean we have more district and school office staff. In our district it is actually less, and I'm sure that is the case in almost every district in Arizona.
Look at the facts instead of spouting stuff that people spout all the time without really digging in to figure out what is going on. Educators are not whiners (generally, not individually, I know a few that are, but they are WAY the exception rather than the rule!). Educators want what is best for children, they want children to succeed, especially in today's ever-changing world and ever-changing economy. Children more and more come from broken homes with divorced parents (or many forms of abuse), and these things can sometimes keep a child from learning entirely because they are so worried about what is going on at home, or what will happen to them when they get home. My wife and I have been foster parents for several years and seen the trauma, even on newborns, that happens to abused children and how many YEARS it takes for them to overcome it, even with therapists, etc.
As I said previously, educators have more demands than ever. If you keep not valuing them for what they do (while at the same time valuing sports "stars" who make millions of dollars a year each), you will push all of the good educators out of the business. At that point, good luck with trying to have good schools. New college graduates will not do a good job with having no experience, and eventually you will have to educate your children at home (while still trying to hold two full-time jobs to make the bills). Good luck.7 months ago
Read the text of Prop 204 and you will realize:
1) That it REQUIRES the state government to maintain the current funding for education at the greater of the current years' or last years' budget.
2) It is NOT the same group that initiated the temporary 1 cent sales tax we have now.
3) The LOOPHOLE has been CLOSED-the state cannot reduce funding for education from the general state coffers by the same amount as is brought in by this tax. That is what happened with the temporary 1 cent sales tax. This proposition is worded so thIs DOES NOT HAPPEN AGAIN. No wonders Republican lawmakers don't like this proposition-it forces them to keep current funding rather than cut it again if/when this new sales tax takes over to replace the old one.
Remember that there are three big unfunded mandates on the education system right now:
1) Move On When Reading (new state law that requires schools to hold back students if they are not at a proficient reading level by the end of third grade). While I agree with the motive for this, there was only $40 million budgeted for it this year, and only because lawmakers were trying to bargain with Governor Brewer who wanted $260 million more for education in this year's budget. Next year, lawmakers have already stated they will not be funding this mandate. Who will pay for the reading tutors for students, plus the students who will be in school for an extra year when all is said and done?
2) New teacher evaluation system-I do believe it holds teachers and administrators more accountable, but I have to tell you, as a professional educator it is a LOT more work on the part of both teachers and principals, and there is no funding to help with the extra paperwork secretaries and principals have to take care of, the time it takes away from actually planning quality instruction by teachers, etc.
3) The new PARCC assessment is coming soon-it is federally funded UP UNTIL IT HITS THE STATES. Once the federal government hands it over to the states to implement, the states have to scrape up the money to train everyone on the new assessment, come up with money for new computers and increased internet bandwidth (since it is all electronic), etc. etc.
All of the three items above are MENTIONED in Prop 204 as part of what the money is designated to go for.
I am a teacher, and I can't tell you how many AWESOME teachers who are AMAZING with helping students learn effectively are ready to up and quit, because of the extra demands on their time. If that happens because teachers don't feel respected and valued for everything they do put in to Arizona's children (because Arizonan's don't care by their vote to fund education properly), then you will be left with new college graduates who, by and large, are not nearly as effective as your veteran teachers. And then education will plummet even further.
To be fair, I know 80% of the Prop 204 goes for education (67% for K-12, 13% for college scholarships, which will help offset the 63% increase in college tuition in the last 5 years for students). The other 20% goes towards road construction, etc., and if anyone else has more details on that portion, I'd be willing to listen.
Overall this bill is a win-win. It will improve our education system because there are NO LOOPHOLES for lawmakers to steal that 1 cent sales tax, and it STATES SPECIFICALLY what it is to go for. When the youth of Arizona get a higher quality education, then more businesses will be attracted here because they know there will be a good pool of workers to draw from, which will then improve the economy even more and the state coffers will increase because of the extra taxes that will be paid. Again, a win-win situation.
Arizona, you have a chance to make a difference with Prop 204. Vote yes and make that difference. Let's not devalue our teachers even more and push them out of the business-if you really have a question on how hard teachers are really working, I invite you to visit a classroom for a day and see all that they go through and do. It is amazing, and it will give you more of an appreciation for what they do (and it would prompt you to vote yes for this proposition, because it is the right thing to do).7 months ago
For those who think we are just "throwing money" at education...
Like Mike reminds us, this is a renewal of a current tax, not a new tax (even if it was, not approving a tax increase for education is not the way to get back at administrators who are "overpaid and living the high life off the public dime"-try talking to your state lawmakers who can actually create laws to help keep administrators and their perks in check).
Also, if you look at any other organization out there in the private business world, there is a LOT more waste at the top than there ever will be in education!
One more comment about waste-how much money do people throw at sports teams/etc., yet are unwilling to renew a current tax for a school district that is an "A" rated district, particularly in a time when Arizona is ranked on the bottom nationally? Shouldn't we support those who are doing exceptionally well? If we don't, they will move to other states or those good teachers will find other jobs to support their family where they aren't criticized constantly by "arm-chair teachers" who have never set foot in a classroom to truly observe what quality teachers go through day in and day out.
When I read people's comments about "don't renew the tax" or "don't support the tax increase," the only people in the education system you are really hurting in that equation is the actual teachers, the ones who are in the trenches day in and day out with our children. With new laws being created every year that add more and more demands on teachers, do you really want to force out the good ones by cutting their pay and benefits even more than they already have been cut? How will that affect the children in the long run?
Support the overrides, every time. If our state lawmakers can't figure out where our priorities as citizens are, then we need to take local control to make it happen, and vote in lawmakers who are willing to make education a priority.
Higley is located mostly in Gilbert and is also an "A" rated district (with the majority of their schools "A" rated as well). There are a lot of things going right in Gilbert and Higley, no matter what is happening at the top. Talk to your school board to fix things, and vote out those who refuse to deal with the poor behavior on the part of administrators you may have a beef against. Be proactive more so than just making a comment on a public forum. That will not get done what you want accomplished.
Vote yes for everything in regards to Gilbert and Higley schools, and they will continue to be "A" rated and produce quality citizens who will make a difference (and help to pay your medicare and social security when you retire).
8 months ago
Invest in Higley, pass the lease option this November.
Voters already approved the money to be spent for building middle schools (which is why the district already has the land). They didn't want to build the schools until there was a need for it, because then they would be paying more interest on empty classrooms, more taxpayer dollars that would have been wasted.
With property values going way down, they cannot use the rest of that money that voters had already approved several years ago for this very purpose. The state school facilities board isn't providing hardly anything (a good analogy is, if you need 100 2X4's to build the school, the SFB is providing 1 toothpick, monetarily speaking).
And from what I hear, any property tax increase on homeowners from passing the lease option would be minimal to none.
Every school might not be overcrowded yet, but they are all getting close. Whatever schooldiggers.com is, it is definitely incorrect. You don't go from a district of about 9000 just 3 years ago to 11,000 and call that declining student population. (Obviously you weren't educated in Higley!)
Once these two middle schools open up, the district will not need to worry about building schools for quite awhile. Moving 7th and 8th graders out of the K-8 schools will free up 200-300 spots for younger grade students in the future at each site.
The other reason, and in my opinion the more important reason, is this will allow the district to provide more opportunities, both academically and with electives, for students. Take band for example-band is divided by grade level, but what if you have an 8th grader who wants to do band but is a beginner and is put with other band students who are in their 4th year of band? That's like putting a child who is barely learning fractions in with algebra students. Either one group will be slowed down or the other group will get frustrated and give up.
There will also be more elective choices again, which have diminished at the middle school level because of recent budget constraints caused by the state budget. By having those choices, more kids have something to look forward to while at school and thus do better academically.
By allowing more choice and by being able to put kids in classes that meet their levels and their needs, academically speaking, kids will flourish more in their learning. And that is the main point of all of this.
Everyone has a right to think what they wish on this topic, but do look at what changes and improvements have come, both in school/district labels the last 2-3 years as well as the service administrators and teachers are providing the students and community. There is a very positive, forward-thinking feeling in regards to the Higley District, and everyone that I've talked to is working their tails off to study data and drive their instruction on the most relevant and up-to-date data they can get for each student. They are working their tails off to meet the needs of the students better than most districts out there do.
Whether or not you agree also, a large part of your property values are because of the success of the Higley District. Like it or not, it wouldn't hurt to support the district in this endeavor, because in the end it still helps you and your property values.
Those are just a few reasons. There are definitely a lot more pros than cons. Don't listen to the folks who say there is so much room at all the schools. Yes, that may be partly true, but there isn't as much as they are saying. Have they physically been in those schools/rooms and seen? Have they even noticed how so many classrooms have 30+ students, which 30 students is about the max you can have without drastically reducing the quality of the education.
Vote yes for the lease option in November. It will only do good.9 months ago
Mike, thank you for a great article and hopefully bringing to light that the "normal" workers who get ASRS benefits (teachers, policemen, firemen, etc., basically those at the bottom of the command chain) are the ones who get anything but a cadillac pension.
If anything, it is only the top administrators (and politicians) who get the cadillac pensions/benefits. If you want to talk about cadillac benefits, ask a US congressman (John McCain would be a good start) to disclose what they get for retirement and for their health care after they retire. THAT is a cadillac pension/health care system! No wonders people want to be become US congressmen so bad!
Maybe, just maybe, if our retirement system was a little better to teachers, and teachers got paid just a bit more for all their hard efforts, then just maybe we would get more of the high quality people that we so desperately need in education. We have a lot already, but the system does not motivate more to become educators as it is set up right now.
Ignore Leon and his ignorant comments. He doesn't understand because he has never walked in the shoes of an educator. If you want to get technical (and Leon would probably like this comment), the reason people are pulling their children from Mesa Schools and enrolling in charter schools is because of the influx of children who are not raised right and who are a poor example of behavior and can be a danger to their children. Right or wrong, a lot of people want their children to be able to learn in an environment free from distractions and significantly poor behaviors, and unfortunately that means they have to pull their kids from public schools to do so. And Mesa didn't lose 10's of thousands of students, they've lost I think about 8,000-10,000 students, a lot I suppose because of SB1070 and their families were here illegally and they didn't want to take a chance, also a lot of people moved out of Arizona recently to find jobs again, which also means a loss of student population.
I am a public school teacher, I do work my tail off, if there is any training I have to take I usually have to pay for it all myself, yes, my health insurance is covered, but it isn't that great, and I have to pay for my wife out of pocket. It is hard to keep things in perspective with people like Leon who complain about teachers all the time, I'm VERY grateful for my job and the benefits I actually do get, and I realize my situation is better than a lot of folks out there. When it comes down to it, the reality is teachers (at least those who are worth their salt), work harder than most and invest more than most, particularly if you compare to how much teachers get in return for their efforts. Yes, you have the occasional teacher who does something stupid to a child, you have that in every profession, however the majority are caring individuals who work super hard to help their students to learn. They don't have a "liberal" agenda, all the teachers I know don't have any agenda except to help their students learn the best they can.
I don't hear people who complain about "cadillac pensions" for teachers complaining about sports stars and all the millions they earn; nor about congressmen and their actual cadillac pensions; I could go on and on...10 months ago
How come articles I've read regarding this ruling on various news sites, both local and national, have not focused on:
1) How local police departments have already put safeguards in place so they are following the law and are not abusing it and being discriminatory,
2) How come it has not been reported that Arizona's agreement with ICE was suspended by President Obama? How President Obama is above the law and can issue an order to basically not allow Arizona to enforce federal law, even though the highest court in the land said that part of the law was ok?
Just a couple of thoughts in regards to all of this mess.
What I don't get is, if I am stopped by a cop and I don't have a driver's license on me or some form of ID, the cop is going to run every background check on me and my car as possible to make sure I didn't steal it, to make sure I am who I say I am, etc. Why is this part of the law, the only part that was approved by the high court, such a big deal? It is what cops should do anyways, ESPECIALLY if someone they've stopped has done something that gives them reasonable suspicion they've done something major, they should also be checking legal status. That just makes sense. It basically is what they are supposed to do now anyways, and ICE checks the legal status of those they request to be checked, the high court just enforced that Arizona does have this right. And yet Latino voters are in outcry over this ruling. Get over it, PLEASE. Illegal is illegal. If you are here illegally, expect to get caught at some point. I'd love to hear stories of people who have, or have had family or friends, get "turned in" for not having papers on them. From what I've read, the approved portion of SB 1070 does not allow for cops to indiscriminately do this, so I am really not sure what the big hey is, unless you and your friends are illegal immigrants and want to avoid having to follow the law. The laws/constitution are what have made this country FREE and GREAT. While our country was founded on immigration in a sense, it was LEGAL immigration, done through the right channels. 11 months ago
chatmandu, could you enlighten us please on what portions of the bill are worded badly and would be not beneficial? Like Mike says, moneys that go to schools are a lot better regulated than any other agency. I'm open to hearing about what may be bad about this bill if you are willing to share, I haven't had the time to read it.11 months ago
I only read the title because of time, but what is this guy smoking?
The tax would simply continue the tax we already ok'ed as voters for a period of 3 years. Governor Brewer said she would not seek renewal of it, that it would have to be done entirely by the citizens (which it is).
The tax is set to end in a year, and then we hit that "financial cliff" that people keep alluding to for the state. The state doesn't have enough of a surplus now in their current budget to make up for over $600 million in education spending and $300-400 million in health care spending. How do they think they can do it in a year from now with the economy only accelerating at a rate of 1 mph per month?
Approving this tax will simply maintain current services in our schools, which are already in the bottom end of the United States. Yes, there should be more accountability with administrators who take extensive salary raises year to year while teachers get freezes, as well as administrators who "make up positions" and then hire family members and friends to fill those positions. But no one to this point has tried to create a system like that and propose it. I think it is because no one wants to rock the boat, because almost all higher-ups get perks that they really do not want to lose, including our not-so-fabulous state politicians, who are self-serving rather than selfless-serving.
Arizona, vote for the education tax come November. Don't listen to Steve Pierce. He is as bad as Russell Pearce when it comes to education. Heaven forbid we educate the populace, oh wait, then they might outsmart us politicians and see right through our con-game (said with a sarcastic tone, and this goes for both Republicans and Democrats, neither side is innocent).11 months ago