Tag Archives: Prop 301

LD 23 State House Candidate Eric Kurland sees 2018 as a Referendum on Public Education.

Educator and Democratic LD 23 State House Candidate Eric Kurland

Democrat Eric Kurland described his reasons and goals for seeking one of the LD 23 State House seats from orthodox conservatives John Kavanagh and Jay Lawrence.

Over breakfast at the Scottsdale restaurant Randy’s (very good food and service) at Chaparral and Hayden, he said he was motivated by his advocacy for children and the misdirection of our Dark-Money-serving Republican state leaders in promoting private school vouchers rather than fully funding public education, Kurland, an educator with the Scottsdale Unified School District, has launched a campaign, fueled by his army of education supporters, emphasizing education, campaign finance reform, and reforming the private prison system.

A legislative district that encompasses all or parts of Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Paradise Valley, and Rio Verde, there has not been a Democratic representative from LD 23 in recent years. Eager to break that trend, Kurland will be running for one of two state house seats against incumbent State Representative Jay Lawrence and Senate Pro Tempore John Kavanagh.

Kurland feels that both Lawrence and Kavanagh are on the “opposite end” of what the people who elected them want, living in “an ivory tower who do not feel the pulse of what a community requires.” If elected, Kurland states, that unlike his opponents, “it will not be the last time they (the people) will hear from him.”

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Declare a win and fight on!

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

This past week, Governor Ducey bowed to pressure from fed-up teachers and public education advocates in releasing a plan to give teachers a 20% pay raise by 2020 and restore District Additional Funding. Although details on funding sources are slim, the Governor has said the plan will not simply redirect money meant for other school needs. He also stipulated the 20% for teacher raises would be added to the base so that it becomes permanent funding our districts and their teachers can count on.

There is, of course, much consternation about how this “sausage” was made. Truth is, discussions between education advocacy organizations have been underway for sometime about the best strategy to fight for teacher salary increases and other funding our districts desperately need. Then, last week, nine GOP legislators collaborated to devise their own plan. As reported on AZCentral.com, it included a 6% pay raise next year, with an increase for five years to a total of 24%. This plan left some education advocates calling it a “shell game” because it included no new money for schools, but a reallocation of available monies. When Governor Ducey got wind of the effort, he called in the legislators, along with several education advocacy organizations, to discuss a solution.

The solution is far from adequate as it still won’t restore our districts to 2008 funding, and doesn’t provide enough money to adequately compensate support staff, or take care of our crumbling facilities and replace capital equipment. If it actually comes to fruition though, it is a big step in the right direction. We should, as representatives from SOS AZ, AZ PTA and the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) have said, “declare a win, a win” and take credit for the effective work we’ve all done to move the Governor to this point. Continue reading

Democratic Candidates for LD10 House Shine in Drive to Oust Clodfelter

 LD10 Democratic candidates.jpg

Left to right, candidates Kirsten Engel, Domingo DeGrazia, Nikki Lee and Catherine Ripley

Democrats have four impressive candidates for the Arizona House in Legislative District 10 in eastern Tucson, united in their effort to oust Republican incumbent, Todd “Confederate” Clodfelter.

  • UofA Law Professor Kirsten H. Engel is running for a second term in the AZ House, after serving on the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and Judiciary and Public Safety committee.
  • Newcomer Domingo DeGrazia, son of famous Tucson artist Ted DeGrazia, is a licensed pilot and a trial attorney in juvenile court. “I have a constant drive to better myself, creativity and tenacity to see a fight through to the end,” he says.
  • Catherine Ripley is a retired 26-year Navy officer and current political science teacher at Pima College (and earlier at Harvard, Boston University, and M.I.T.). In her first run for office, she says, “I’m a former diplomat, Mom, and business executive. I’ve seen famine and war. I’m here to bring my skills and experiences, and have the tools to hand Todd Clodfelter a defeat he’ll never forget.”
  • Running as a Clean Elections Candidate, newcomer Nikki Lee has a young campaign team of Millennials, including herself at age 36. “We have so much excitement on our campaign, doing innovating things, understanding the life of young people.”  She has  launched the “A to Z podcast” for young people.

LD10 has two AZ House members and one Senator, David Bradley, who was on hand and running without opposition. Clodfelter is notorious for his Confederate Flag screen saver, which he claimed wasn’t racist. His signature legislation throws a meager $150 tax credit at teachers to cover school supplies rather than help them in any meaningful way.

If you could pass one bill…

Asked if they could pass only one bill in the Republican-majority House, the candidates said it would be to:

Engel: End the hundreds of corporate sales tax loopholes and use the money to fund public schools.

DeGrazia: Stop gun violence.

Lee: Help veterans recover from PTSD and brain injuries.

Ripley: Enact common-sense gun policy, including a ban on bump stocks.

If you could reverse one law…

Asked what law or bill they would want to stop, the candidates said:
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The Bucks Stop Here

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

The latest talking point about education funding coming out of GOP leadership at the AZ Legislature is that “teacher raises are the responsibility of school districts, not the state.” Senate Education Committee Chair Sylvia Allen, recently said this as week as that districts “did not use Prop 123 monies to give teacher raises” and then that “some did and some didn’t.” And, she made the point that districts also used the funds to give administrators raises.

Well, technically, she is not wrong. School district governing boards are responsible for approving the budgets for their districts, or rather, how those budgets are sliced and diced. Some districts used more of the Prop 123 monies than others to give teachers raises. And, yes, some administrators were also given raises, but keep in mind that these “administrators” aren’t necessarily just district superintendents and principals. The administration line item also includes business managers, clerical and other staff who perform accounting, payroll, purchasing, warehousing, printing, human resources and administrative technology services. And, even if some districts gave raises to superintendents and principals so what? Truth is, the state has a shortage of these personnel as well.

Toward the end of 2016, the Arizona School Boards Association asked 83 districts across the state how they used their Prop 123 funds for FY2016 and how they budgeted for them to be used for FY2017. The survey showed that a majority of the school districts spent the 2016 funds on teacher or staff raises. For 2017, 75 percent was budgeted toward compensation increases. Some districts were forced to also use the funds to restore cut classes and programs, purchase classroom resources and technology, replace out-of-date textbooks, make overdue facility repairs, and replace old buses. Continue reading

Bubblegum Only Holds For So Long

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com

The Arizona Republic reported this morning that two Glendale Elementary School District (GESD) schools would be closed for up to five weeks for structural deficiencies uncovered during a weatherization project. Inspections by architects and structural engineers found “varying degrees of damage to outside walls in every building on campus” said Jim Cummings, spokesman for Glendale Elementary.

What Glendale is experiencing, though, is just a peek at what is to come statewide. One of the GESD schools, after all, was built in the 1920s. Likewise, the majority of Yuma Elementary School District facilities are over 50 years old. In my district, Oracle Elementary, most of our facilities are over 40 years old and one was built in 1938. These are just a few examples of our aging district infrastructure in the Arizona.

In 1998, the National Center for Education Statistics reported the median age of schools in the West as 39 years, with 25 percent of the schools built before 1950. Admittedly, this report is old and, doesn’t hone in on Arizona, but current Arizona data just isn’t available. Thing is, it should be. Continue reading