Tag Archives: goldwater institute

With Solid Support from Educators, Steve Farley Can Oust Gov. Ducey

One year into his campaign for Governor, Democratic candidate Steve Farley is on a roll. Polls show that  Gov. Ducey is vulnerable, Farley has raised $1.1 million in contributions, and his message of rebuilding Arizona’s impoverished schools is resonating with Democrats.

“I’m the only Democratic candidate who’s been elected to public office and I’ve been in the Legislature for 12 years,” he said at a recent campaign stop in Tucson. “I’m the only Democratic candidate who has ever won an election, and I’ve won 6 in a row. I know how to win.”

It’s about 60 days before early ballots drop in the primary election, which will be held on August 28, and Farley is crossing the state to see voters, debating his primary challenger David Garcia, and even talking on conservative talk radio.

Farley is the state Senator from legislative district 9 (Casa Adobes and the Foothills in Tucson) and is on the Appropriations and the Finance committees. He is the Assistant Minority Leader in the state Senate.

“I speak good “Republican,'” he quipped. “I go on conservative talk radio a lot and like to preach to the unconverted. People call in and say, ‘I’ve never heard a Democrat speak before, but you make sense.’ With that kind of change in thinking, we can make something good happen.”

Teacher Raises

Farley was the first elected official to call for a 20% raise for teachers more than a year ago and this has cemented his support from teachers in the #RedForEd movement.
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Not Fake News, Just Propaganda

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

Yesterday, a friend emailed me a copy of a Goldwater document that had been placed in all the “mail” boxes at his “Life Plan Community” (retirement/assisted living). The document was titled, “The Truth about Teacher Pay”, and dated April 12, 2018.

Even without the Goldwater logo at the top, I could have easily identified it as a right-wing propaganda piece. In it, the Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy, Matthew Simon, began by making the point that “though fingers are pointed at state legislatures with calls for higher teacher salaries, the reality is that in many cases, locally elected school district governing boards are responsible for the size of paychecks.” He went on to write that, “independently elected governing boards wield considerable power in their positions by creating policies, crafting school district budgets and setting teacher pay.”

Simon provides a couple of examples of the significant difference in pay between various school districts to make his point. He then writes that, “teachers in Arizona have launched their demands at legislators in a well-coordinated campaign.” Of course, this “well-coordinated campaign”, is just a dog-whistle to infer the big bad “union” is driving the train. Truth is, the #RedForEd effort comes from a grassroots movement. There is no statewide collective bargaining unit in Arizona, because our state is a “Right to Work” state. Which means, employees really have no rights at work. Continue reading

Happy Valentine’s Day…NOT!

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

On this Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d ask, when it comes to our public schools students in Arizona, “who loves you baby?”  Yesterday, I was listening in on the AZ House Education Committee meeting. There were many bills on the agenda, but I was primarily interested in HB 2394; empowerment scholarship accounts [ESAs]; expansion; phase-in. I wasn’t hopeful the bill would die, as its companion bill SB 1431, had already been given a due-pass by the Senate Education Committee. As expected, HB 2394 followed suit on a 6–5 vote as did HB 2465, which will allow all students eligible for an ESA account to remain on the program until age 22 and for up to $2,000 a year to be put into a 529 savings account.

The passage of these bills, along with the companion ones in the Senate, demonstrate the disdain many GOP legislators have for our district schools and, for the underpaid educators who toil within. This, because ESAs divert more general fund revenue per student to private schools than district schools receive. As reported by the Arizona School Boards Association, an ESA student, on average, costs the state general fund $1,083 more in grades K–8, and $1,286 more in grades 9–12 than a district student. This is in part because there are many school districts that enjoy a fair amount of locally controlled support in the way of overrides and bonds. The state therefore, is relieved of providing equalization funding to them, but when students leave to go to private schools, all the funding must come from the state general fund. ESA students also receive charter additional assistance funding of roughly $1,200 per student, which district schools do not receive. Turns out that the claim of voucher proponents that they save the state money, is not just “alternative facts” but totally untrue. And, although voucher proponents love to claim there is no harm to district schools when students take their funding and leave, the truth is that about 19 percent of a districts costs are fixed (teacher salaries, transportation, facility repair and maintenance, utilities) and can’t be reduced with each student’s departure. Continue reading

Ooops, there it is!

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

We knew it was coming and awaited it with dread. And, drumroll please…crash goes the cymbal! Yes, here it is, this year’s attempt to exponentially expand Arzona’s voucher (Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, or ESA) program. Of course, the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) chief water carrier for Arizona, Senator Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, is the one proposing the expansion. Lesko claims the expansion of ESAs will “not lead to a mass exodus of children from public schools.” I, for the most part, agree with that statement since Arizona parents have made it clear district schools are their choice with 80% of students attending district schools and another almost 15% in charter schools.

But, to infer a massive voucher expansion will have no negative impact on district schools is disingenuous at best. No matter how slowly students may attrit from district schools, each student’s departure leaves behind a 19% budget shortfall. That’s because there are numerous fixed costs (teacher salaries, facility maintenance, utilities, buses, etc.) that cannot be reduced student by student. The siphoning of dollars from our district schools has been steadily increasing and just exacerbates an already inadequately resourced system.

This isn’t the first year the Legislature has attempted to expand the voucher program. In fact, they’ve been successful in expansions every year since the ESA program was launched in 2011. This isn’t even the first time a full expansion has been attempted, with a very similar proposal going down in flames last year due to public outcry and a perceived conflict with securing voter approval of Prop. 123. This year though, Lesko has sweetened the deal by requiring the testing of students attending private schools on vouchers. She says she “doesn’t personally think this requirement is necessary,” but obviously is trying to defuse the argument from voucher opponents that there is no accountability or return on investment for vouchered students. Continue reading

The needs of the many…

Spoiler Alert: I am really glad I didn’t drive to Phoenix today for the House Ways and Means Committee meeting during which they considered HB 2842, Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs); Expansion; Phase-In. I’m glad I stayed home because I’m sure my presence it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. Instead, I watched live streaming of the meeting and gleaned from the testimony that ESAs are lacking in accountability and transparency and serve the few at the expense of the majority.

The first “against” speaker I viewed was Ms. Stacey Morley from the Arizona Education Association. She talked about how when the full cap is reached, 5,500 students could have accepted ESAs at a cost of $13M to the state. Tory Anderson, from the Secular Coalition of Arizona expressed her organization’s opposition to any use of taxpayer dollars to fund religious schools. An AZ Department of Education representative said DOE is neutral on the bill, but wants to ensure they get their full 5% portion of the ESA funds for ensuring accountability. These funds are prescribed by law, but haven’t always been fully included in the budget. He talked about the importance of adequate oversight and referred to the 700 to 1 ratio currently in place for program liaisons that work with families to provide that oversight. As high as that number is, he wanted to ensure further budget cuts don’t make the challenge even tougher. Continue reading

They want it to be a jungle out there for voters

Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

jungle

The year is new and, of course, the Top Two, AKA Jungle Primary people are very busy peddling their harebrained idea to gullible pundits. The latest to take the bait is Arizona Republic‘s Linda Valdez, who is arguably the most liberal member of the paper’s editorial board.

Quoth Linda:

First, you get rid of partisan primaries.

The system is a relic. These days, people who register to vote with no party affiliation make up the largest group of voters in the state. They can vote in partisan primaries, but few independents engage in elections devised to serve the political parties they have already rejected.

Partisan primaries are ruled by a few die-hard voters who represent the fringes of each party. Because most districts are not competitive, the primary candidates those extremists pick usually win in November. No moderates need apply.

In 2012, there was a ballot initiative to create a non-partisan, open primary system. It looked popular, but it failed after a “dark money” campaign raised doubts in voters’ minds.

“You learn a lot from failure,” says former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, who championed the measure.

He made a checklist of what to do differently. He’s ready to try again to pass an open primary initiative.

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