by David Safier

We found out yesterday that Arizona, which was already rock bottom in the country in what we spend per student in 2008, made the largest cuts to per student spending in the country from then until now — a whopping 21.8% cut. Already the bottom in the nation, we dug our children into an even deeper education deficit instead of trying to make up some ground.

Today we learn our schools have to put new English and math standards into place this year without a dollar of funding from the state. That means schools will have to dig into their already depleted funds to buy textbooks, pay for teacher training and, for many schools and districts, buy more computers and create greater bandwidth since the new standardized tests will be online, not on paper.

If Prop. 204 passes, it will guarantee an extra $500-$600 per student, which some people, even some progressives, object to. Sadly, some progressives I respect refuse to stoop down into the land of compromise even if that's the only way to lend a helping hand to our children who deserve the best education we can give them. Putting that extra $500-$600 in perspective, it's less than half what has been cut over the past 5 years. With those extra funds we will still be last in the nation in per student spending.

If we don't pass Prop. 204, here are the people who will be controlling our education funding.

  • "Trust me" Jan Brewer. When asked about how schools will come up with the extra money to pay for the new English and math standards, Brewer said, "My record will stand. . . . I have fought hard and long for education, and I will continue to do so." Brewer opposes Prop. 204. "I think there's a better way of doing it," she said. She didn't feel the need to lay out any details about her "better way."
  • "You can't trust us" John Kavanagh. Rep. Kavanagh likes to reply to BfA posts that refer to him, and he left a comment on my post about Arizona's 21.8% spending cuts because I quoted him explaining his opposition to Prop. 204 by saying, “It removes budgeting flexibility from the Legislature and it does budgeting in a vacuum, not taking into account other needs and wants." Kavanagh is usually very careful when he comments, but this time he let the truth slip out when he replied to my statment, " We simply cannot trust Republican legislators when it comes to education." Kavanagh began his reply by stating, "You cannot trust liberals either," a statement which accepts my comment about not trusting Republicans. Paging Dr. Freud! [The rest of Kavanagh's comment is about First Things First selfishly holding onto its money instead of giving it back to the state. Feel free to reply.]
  • "Suffer, little children" John Huppenthal. State Ed Supe Huppenthal refused to commit himself to fighting for more money for education. The reason he gave is, "I grew up in a household where the food ran out on Sunday and shopping day was Wednesday," he said. "To me, operating in a scarce resource environment is second nature." That may explain why he thinks Ben Franklin helped free the slaves. The lesson on Ben was probably on a Tuesday, and Hupp was hallucinating from lack of food.

If you want to trust these three to hold our children's educational future in their hands, that's your privilege. As more me, I'm voting for Prop. 204 to assure at least a few more dollars go to education regardless of what the likes of Brewer, Kavanagh and Huppenthal have in mind for our schools.

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