From the K-12 Public Education War Front in Arizona

The war on public education has been waging for several years in Arizona, but this year has seen some especially heavy fighting. The attacks on public education by the first session of the 52nd Legislature (hereafter referred to as the ENEMY) have been asymmetrical and relentless. Recognizing that K-12 public education (hereafter referred to as FRIENDLY FORCES) can’t accomplish the mission unless well-resourced, General (Governor) Ducey has already signed a budget cutting $113M more from their budget. This, on top of the ENEMY’S continuing battle to deny FRIENDLY FORCES the people’s mandated and court adjudicated inflationary funding ($317M definitely owed with another $1.6B in question.) The ENEMY is also continuing the assault on the FRIENDLY FORCES’ supply lines with their attempts to exponentially expand vouchers, (Empowerment Scholarship Accounts) and corporate tax breaks for donations to private schools (Student Tuition Organization scholarships.) And, just to be sure it is as difficult as possible for the FRIENDLY FORCES to communicate their resource needs to the public (hereafter referred to as ALLIES), the ENEMY continues to try to mandate additional language in bond and override descriptions to obfuscate and in fact, mislead the ALLIES. Of course, there are also bills to dump Common Core since renaming the controversial standards the Arizona College and Career Standards didn’t really fool the ALLIES. The ENEMY believes this is an important battle to fight so they can keep the FRIENDLY FORCES in a constant state of instability and uncertainty and continue to win the hearts and minds of the fringe that supports them.

Up until recently however, FRIENDLY FORCES were able to communicate to their ALLIES ramifications of the ENEMY’S strategy and intent. Now though, the ENEMY has countered with Senate Bill 1172 to totally cut the FRIENDLY FORCES’ lines of communication. Initially, this bill was written to prohibit school districts and charters from releasing directory information for the purpose of political activity, which would limit the ability of local parent and community organizations from engaging other parents on district bond or override issues. In a last minute change to their strategy, the bill has now been amended to also fine an employee of a school district or charter school $5,000 for distributing written or electronic materials to influence the outcome of an election or to advocate support for or opposition to pending or proposed legislation.

On one level, this tells me the FRIENDLY FORCES are gaining ground in this war on public education. Surely, if the ENEMY feels the need to “gag” the FRIENDLY FORCES, they must be making headway. Perhaps the showing of over 1,000 FRIENDLY FORCES and ALLIES at the Capitol in early March to protest General Ducey’s cuts to public education gave the ENEMY pause. The FRIENDLY FORCES cannot however, underestimate the ENEMY’S objective to seize, retain, and exploit their initiative to kill public education and turn it over to private profiteers. They will not be happy until all the FRIENDLY FORCES are subdued and the economically safe (largely white) students are safely ensconced in private schools and the socio-economically disadvantaged students (largely students of color) are stuck in pathetically underfunded and therefore underperforming schools.

Make no mistake. This isn’t a matter of the ENEMY not understanding the needs of the FRIENDLY FORCES and those they are charged to protect and serve. This is a matter of not caring about them. The ENEMY is backed by the AXIS OF EVIL (corporate money, American Legislative Exchange Council, and ideological fanatics) and is committed to victory in this fight. FRIENDLY FORCES must recognize we are at war and employ the strategies and principles thereof to win the fight.

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8 thoughts on “From the K-12 Public Education War Front in Arizona

  1. PHOENIX (Arizona Daily Star) Gov. Doug Ducey named five new members to the state Board of Education on Friday in his effort to reshape the 11-member panel more to his liking.

    Ducey is taking advantage of the fact that his predecessor, Jan Brewer, left two positions unfilled. And the state Senate never took up Brewer’s nomination of two others who have continued to serve, allowing him to withdraw the names and substitute his own.

    Sorry but, next time I think we’ll do better. By the time the wrecking crew gets done.

  2. Great analogy! If we look at other states like Wisconsin and Louisiana where charters are being allowed to take over and ALEC and the Koch brothers have a grip, we can see that the charters are not fairing too well. I spoke to an elderly gentleman yesterday at my son’s girlfriend’s graduation about education. He immediately started saying how the U.S. is doing poorly compared to other countries. I almost lost my cool. I told him that none of that is true. We are not doing poorly as these “forces” would have people believe. But, look at the countries that do better–like Finland. They treat their teachers with respect, pay them well, help the students in any way possible. They are public schools–not charters. Their poverty rate is very low. People here don’t even want to hear that word–poverty. Wake up, people. Our poverty rate is climbing and poverty has a huge effect on our children’s learning. I taught only in Title I schools for my teaching career. There is a revolution brewing and already begun in many other states. Education is important to the well-being of our society and economy.

  3. Some kind of dream?
    They treat their teachers with respect, pay them well, help the students in any way possible. They are public schools–not charters. Their poverty rate is very low.

    There the poverty rate is very low. Educated Societies have lower poverty rates.
    But then ALEC’s members would have to pay living wages. Treat teachers with respect? Pay them well? But charter schools are public schools, Public schools are the problem, just keep underfunding them, close them down. Round and round we go spinning downward.

  4. May I have permission to use your “AXIS OF EVIL (corporate money, American Legislative Exchange Council, and ideological fanatics,” if I credit you?

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