Okay fellow liberal southern Arizonans, I get it. You are mad as hell and you aren’t going to take anymore. Prop 123 is a bridge too far, a river too wide and the proverbial final straw breaking the camel’s back.
I join you in being pissed off. I’m pissed at the Legislature who has failed to follow the people’s mandate since 2009 and ignored the Superior Court judge’s order to follow that same mandate. I’m pissed that Governor Ducey is dead set against raising the appropriate revenue to ensure our districts get the funding they are due. I’m also pissed at the current and previous state treasurers who have come out against Prop 123 since I wonder where they’ve been as the Legislature has steadily eroded our districts’ budgets.
I’m especially pissed though, at the voters who continue to elect anti-public education candidates, whether they voted for them, or just didn’t vote at all. After all, we know that 89 percent of Arizona voters prioritize K-12 public education funding at the top and that two-thirds are willing to pay more taxes to make that happen. We also know that in 2014, only 36 percent of eligible voters actually voted. Polls tell us what voters want, but they aren’t voting in a way to ensure they’ll actually get it.
I just wonder how many of you (who have decided this is the time and the place to plant the flag of “I’m not going to take it anymore”) are in the classroom, administering a school district, serving on a school board, or even have children currently in K-12 district schools. I ask this because I’m fairly sure all of these people are pissed too and they’d like to plant their own flags. But, they know that if Prop 123 doesn’t pass, it will be their students/children that suffer. It will be the 5th graders who have never been in a fully funded classroom. It will be those numerous students in Arizona who now have long-term uncertified and/or substitute teachers because of the severe shortage* of teachers in our state. It will be those students in class sizes higher than the national average because that is the only way districts could make ends meet. It will also be those students who are in facilities that haven’t been properly maintained because districts only received 2 percent of required funding to do so.
We now have Prop 123 because parents, teachers, school board members and others kept the pressure on to settle the school inflation-funding lawsuit. Years and years of cuts have made Arizona #1 in cuts to public education funding and Prop 123 won’t make much of a dent in that, but it is a start. Let me be clear…this is ONLY a start. It ONLY settles the inflation-funding lawsuit. The next step is up to all of us. We simply must elect different legislators if we expect different results. To do otherwise begins to meet the definition of insanity. We totally have the power to do this, we need only exercise it.
Please start now by taking the Prop 123GO Pledge.** Also as a reminder, the last day to register to vote in this special election is April 18th and early voting begins on April 20th. Our kids are counting on you to put them first, to end the wait, to up the fight. I will be there for them, will you?
*To be clear, we probably have enough certified teachers in Arizona, they just can’t support their families on a teacher’s salary and have decided to work in other fields. In 2014, Arizona was 45th in the Nation for teacher salaries.
**If you are a school district employee or board member, please remember that district resources (including email) cannot be used to produce or circulate pro/con election materials.