by David Safier
If you haven't given your 100% refundable tax credit donation of $200 ($400 for a couple filing jointly) to the public school of your choice, DO IT! You have until December 31. If you owe at least as much in state taxes as you give, you'll get every penny back at tax time.
You can give the money to any public school, or combination of public schools, you wish, and in most cases, you can pay online using your credit card. They can be District schools — you don't have to live in the district — or charter schools. If you don't already have a school picked out, let me suggest you give to one educating less affluent students. Those schools always get the least money in donations per student. Tucson-area districts with lots of low income students are TUSD, Sunnyside and Flowing Wells. My links take you directly to their tax credit pages.
I visited Manzo Elementary and advocated on BfA that it not be closed. It was one of the 3 schools spared the ax on Thursday. Manzo's program coupling environmental/ecological education with the basics is laudable and deserves the time, energy and support necessary to reach its full potential. If it proves successful — it's still in the early stages of its ecological/educational transformation — it can be a model for schools in the area and around the country.
Lynn/Urquides Elementary, on Ajo just west of the freeway, has gotten no attention recently. Ironically, that's because it's doing just what it should be doing. With an enrollment that's 91% Hispanic, 3% Native American and 2% Black, and with 96% of its students on Free or Reduced Lunch, it has still earned a school grade of "C" from the state. When you understand how the ranking system is rigged against schools
with students from poor families, that's quite an accomplishment. Actually, it's more like a "C+," only 7 points below a "B" rating. The school uses a no frills, no fancy stuff approach to education, devoting every possible moment to teaching students the skills they need to succeed in school and in their futures as adults. Its success deserves attention and support.
Either of these schools is more than worthy of your support, along with many, many others. Remember, your tax credit is free to you and gives our budget-starved schools a much needed boost.