Mad as Hell and You’re Not Going to Take it Anymore!

Linda Oyon

Cross-posted from


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.)

**(Note: 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.)

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Linda Lyon retired as a Colonel (Thomas) from the U.S. Air Force in 2007 at Andrews AFB, Maryland where she served as the Mission Support Group Commander (city manager) for a 20,000 person community with 2,000 people under her command. After retirement from the Air Force, she managed a $28 million logistical service contract at the Department of Energy and served as Deputy Program Manager for the $30 million SBInet contract at L-3 Communications. Since moving to Tucson in 2008, she (and her wife Holly) created and ran four annual Wingspan charity golf tournaments bringing in almost $65,000, and she served as the organization’s Director for 14 months. She also served in key positions for five AZ legislative races. Linda is in her second term as a Governing Board member for the Oracle School District, was named Advocate of the Year for 2013 by the Arizona School Board Association and in 2018, served as the Association's President. She'll be the past president in 2019 and will also be serving as the Federal Legislative Chair for the Arizona PTA.


  1. 89% of voters are for education ;but 70% of white voters vote republican because they are not for democratic candidates. I have been called a troll by blue meenie for bringing this unpleasant fact up. too many democrats like fred duval think they can convince republicans who view democrats with contempt to vote democrat nstead of realizing the hispanic vote is the arizona democratic partys future. the reason white liberal elitist democrats then won’t be running the party.

  2. None of the schools have provided a forum for the teachers to see that there ARE 2 sides to Prop 123. How do teachers make an informed decision?..just believe what they are told?
    I worked on a Tucson Campaign last election to get a House member elected. I really put my all into this campaign for a ‘pro-public school’ candidate in my district. Guess what? The AEA supported, very strongly, the other candidate that was currently in office. A person who consistently voted AGAINST public schools!! When I attempted to reach AEA, they NEVER replied, never gave a reason why. That left me questioning any directive from the AEA.
    I don’t know you, Linda. I have heard many good things about you. Thank you for all you do for the schools but, in this case, the AEA has it wrong and it is alright for someone or two members of the AEA, ASBA, AASBO to apologize for this flawed 123. Better to do it now before people go to the polls.
    Prop 123 is the beginning. It is the beginning of the end. Next step is lowering income tax to reduce budget further. Next step is strengthening the scholarship empowerment accts to provide more ‘free private schools’ to rich people. Next step is the ‘Classrooms First Initiative’ that Ducey smartly put on hold because he knew if he put out his recommendations while this was going on, there would be a revolt..but, believe me- it is next. What will it do? Give extra funding to his ‘prized’ Charter Schools like BASIS and maybe a few top performing public schools. Who loses out?.. The schools that are now struggling and need those funds.
    Where is the outrage from the entire community? Do they want to retire in a State that consistently underfunds their schools? Who will be taking care of our future? Will we graduate the next scientist that comes up with a cure for cancer? Will we as a state government collaborate with the schools to develop the best storage battery? What are our chances to accomplish great, important things like this? When we continue to systematically rob any possibility of an educated populace, we create a permanent underclass. Shame on the Governor. Shame on the Legislature. Shame on all those voters who complain and don’t vote and for those that vote ‘party-line’ without learning about what that politician thinks about key things that directly effect our everyday lives…like education!
    The ‘PLEDGE’ is misdirected. It should be a pledge to vote every damn politician out of office this November that has not supported public education…and those that are newly running for office must take the PLEDGE that if we elect them to office, they will abide by the decision the courts just made that the schools are to be paid the $300+ million now and agree to work towards an adjustment of the payout from the State Land Trust to a more normalized percentage instead of this arbitrary Ducey concocted (when he was Treasurer, this was his plan…to starve the schools) 2.5%. The distribution should start around 4% to 4.5% and eventually go to 5%.
    There are 60,000 (?) teachers in AZ. If they all voted, we could change the make-up of this radical legislative body this November.
    Vote NO on Prop 123
    read more info

    • Thanks for the read and comment Tamar. I understand why you feel the way you do and don’t entirely disagree. But, I think we can get some significant funding for our districts now and then step up the fight. I really appreciate your work to change things and love your point that if teachers would just vote in November, it would make a world of difference. I really wish we could all work together to get pro-public education candidates elected as we are working against each other now to get more money in the classrooms!

    • I agree with Tamar Kreiswirth. Proposition 123 should be voted down. If it passes, the biggest winners will be Doug Ducey and his PR machine (four more years for “saving education”) and charter schools. The legislature must be held to appropriating the funds to schools that voters approved. The pro Proposition 123 commercials on the radio couch the truth and falsely portray Prop 123 as an easy fix using State Trust funds for education while not raising taxes. Our current and former State Treasurers are correct to speak out against this ill advised approach that will result in less revenue for future school children. Furthermore, the League of Women Voters, an organization which rarely takes political stands, has come out against Prop 123. It is time for Arizonans to take a stand by voting “No” on Proposition 123.

      • Hi Debbie, thanks very much for the read and for commenting. Whatever happens on May 17th, hope we can count on you to continue to fight for our kids!

    • By the way, not entirely true that none of the schools have provided a forum to hear both sides of 123. I know that Vail Unified hosted an event organized by the Vail Parents Network and I’m certain others have as well. Of course the Legislature has made it tough for schools to disseminate info with threats of $5,000 fines if the information is viewed as more than a just “factual” presentation.

      • The threat of $5000 fine…I remember now something in the cesspool of ideas from the Legislature …God forbid the schools have an opinion on what is best for them. (sorry, this is just too much)
        With that in mind, then, how is it ok to have teachers sign a Pledge telling them to vote only one way on a proposition? That doesn’t sound like factual information. It sounds like a directive.
        When was the last time the teachers all walked out?

        • The $5,000 only applies if someone uses school resources to sway the vote. It doesn’t preclude our districts from informing their employees or the public, but it does make it intimidating to pursue.

  3. Lynda, I fully support our public school system, but I believe Prop 123 is deeply flawed. First, the Az GOP’s middle name is “bait and switch.” We should not trust them not to continue cuts to our school system. Second, gouging the land trust now to make up for the AZ GOP’s breach of its obligation to fund public education the way WE told them to, is simply bad fiscal policy. In Arizona, our Constitution reserves all legislative power to the people except those powers we expressly give. Time for us to hold the AZ GOP accountable for their misconduct in this regard. I appreciate your advocacy for education, but my vote is a solid no vote on Prop 123.

    • Understand Tom. Really appreciate your read, your comments and your fully considered opinion. Let’s hope in the end, the voters get tired of the way our state is being run into the ground and they elect candidates who will actually represent the will of the majority of the people!

  4. Fred
    I respectfully disagree and the latest NAEP results back us up. Our goal has always been twofold 1. To have the best public education system in the United States and 2. To have the most cost effective education system.

    Our Black, White and Hispanic students placed first, 6th and 11th in the nation in math in the 2015 NAEP.

    Our combined math and reading gains from 2011 fourth grade to 2015 eighth grade were the highest in the nation – the best apples to apples claim to having the best schools in the nation without an extensive regression analysis.

    The cultural consensus on this web site is that the most expensive schools are the best schools. Sorry folks, that experiment has been tried over and over again – hasn’t worked. Look at Wyoming and their 16,000 per year students, New York City and their 12 billion budget increase for one school district and the Kansas City judge who said let your dreams run wild and I will fund them. Not an iota to show for it all.

    • Good to hear from you Mr. Huppenthal. Your opinion is, obviously, not just an opinion. As someone who served as the Education Chair in the Senate for much of the 1990’s and 2000’s, and who was looked to by other legislators who followed your direction, your opinion resulted in setting the direction of education in this state. If I understand your argument – and I’ve heard it for over 25 years – your position is this: money does not equal achievement in public education and we can get better results not by throwing money at the problem but by infusing competition through school choice. You often cite outliers like D.C. (and here Wyoming) to prove your thesis. But after three decades of following this policy, surely the results are in. Is public education in Arizona – as a whole — better now than before your point of view took over the debate. No. Not by a long shot and not by any measure. Arizona has slightly below average scores on rock bottom funding.

      I also question another tenet of your philosophy. That somehow what we pay people has no relation to the quality of people we get. 85-90% of school expenditures go for salary and benefits. (So when you talk about school funding, you are talking about what you pay people.) Why is it that the private sector, which you love to emulate, doesn’t seen it this way? Why does the Arizona Legislature and Governor not see it this way with their own people? No, in both the private sector and in partisan Arizona government, we pay people wages that attract them to their positions and give them incentive to stay. We pay them what they are worth – or at least we try. We don’t even try in public education in Arizona to do that. I find that disconnect curious and troubling. Do the laws of supply and demand and the “invisible hand” that directs individual behavior in the marketplace not apply in public education? The answer is, of course it does – it applies in ALL markets. And it’s why Arizona teachers are either 1) leaving the profession 2) choosing not to go into education in the first place or 3) demoralized and feeling undervalued.

      But Linda’s point is a good one. Your policies would not have set our direction had voters actually voted for what they say they believe in. And unless something is done about that, it will never change.

      • Chris,
        Good to hear from you also. Another churchgoer participating in this bar room brawl. Fewer rules and less civility here than in church – but still a search for the truth, at least by some and allowed by fewer and fewer.

        Your comments are the reasoned values of the Independent voter. However, this is the problem with the logic. You assume that education funding is synonymous with teachers salaries, that higher salaries will attract greater talent and that greater talent will improve test scores.

        However, in practice, this correlation just does not show up. It’s not just epic case studies like New York, Kansas, Wyoming, and the Tucson Unified School District, it is intensive regression equations across classrooms, schools, districts, states and nations.

        The truth is that there is no such thing as a great teacher to be attracted. Great teachers are grown and developed by great education cultures and education culture is trapped. Just look at the Gallup numbers – 47 years ago, 26% of parents rated their child’s school an “A” and in 2015, 24% rated their child’s school an “A”.

        I am watching my school district. In 1998, 38% rated their child’s school an “A” and this year 75% rated their child’s school an “A”. They have improved a couple points a year for 17 straight years.

        They have prospered and increased student counts despite or because of being surrounded by the most competitive charter schools in existence.

        They have less than 1% of parents rating their child’s school a “D” or “F” this compares with up to 19% in some whole states.

        West Group does their phone survey, this isn’t one of these deals where parents fill out the survey on PTA night.

        When you go inside their schools, it becomes obvious why parents are rating them so highly. A rich curriculum with a huge variety of choices, teachers who really care and principals who provide great leadership and great academic gains.

        Their board room is strife with tension over finances. As I write this paragraph at 4 am, I am listening to a cable channel replay of their most recent board meeting. They grind it out and squeeze that last drop of value out of every single penny. No business as usual in that room. These are really good policy makers.

        I know its not fun for them and money would reduce the suffocating tension. But, it is the tension that is moving education culture in Arizona and replacing that tension with more money won’t improve education.

        Nationwide, 50% of all teachers leave the profession by the 5th year. Money hasn’t solved their problems. Its made them worse.

        In my 5th grade science class, I still remember the teacher talking about the null hypothesis. Human beings are like sheep, to stay organized, we line up easily. After thirty years of elected office, that’s not my nature, I always start with the null hypothesis and dig deeper and deeper.

  5. Since 2007, the Republican dominated state legislature has decimated public school funding in Arizona and sent as much of it to private schools as they could get away with. Make no mistake about it, privatization is their goal. In the current legislative session they proposed ending desegregation funding (which would devastate the poorer districts throughout the state), and twice proposed giving vouchers for private schools to every public school student in the state. These bills did not pass YET, but anyone who follows education legislation in this state knows that they will be back over and over again until they do. Privatization is the true intention of both the governor (that’s why the DARK MONEY got him elected) and the legislature, and anyone who thinks they want to better fund public education needs a reality check.

    If Prop 123 passes the public schools will not see a penny of new funding. Sure, some more funds might be dumped into the top of the education funding funnel, but legislative history since 2007 and continued into this session has shown us that the legislature will pass some type of legislation to make sure those funds (and more) will siphon out at the bottom of the funnel and wind up in the coffers of private schools.

    The key to appropriately funding public education in Arizona is to change the legislature and elect more of the Democrats who consistently vote to properly fund education. Prop 123 is a “smoke and mirrors” scheme, and if it passes it will make Ducey and the legislature look like the “saviors” of public education while their true agenda is privatization. For that reason, this public educator (teacher/administrator) of 45 years is voting NO on Prop 123 and I urge you to do the same.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting Fred. Thanks also for your service to our children. I agree with you that the Legislature and Governor want to privatize our public education and that our only recourse is to elect pro-public education candidates. I believe you are wrong that our districts won’t get the money if Prop 123 passes, but if it does, I’ll be counting on you and many like you to help ensure our lawmakers don’t pull a bait and switch on us.

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