Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ducey, the Koch Brothers and Education Funding

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 3:35 PM


With Gov. Ducey back in Phoenix after traveling to Palm Springs to kiss the rings of his dark money benefactors Charles and David Koch—"Geez, guys, I can't thank you enough for all you've done to help me get elected, and I need to know what you want me to do next."—it's a good time to take a look backward, then forward at Ducey's record on education funding. Rumor has it Ducey has visited the chiropractor to fix the repetitive muscle strain he caused by patting himself on the back so often, congratulating himself for his plan to give students money from their [state land] trust fund to pay 70 percent of what he and his fellow Republicans owe them, by law. And he's been known to say the added funding is only a first step. So what's his next step?

Let's begin by looking backward. In 2012, Proposition 204 gave the voters a chance to put in a sales tax that would have added nearly a billion dollars a year to education funding. Ducey wasn't only against it. He headed the No on Prop. 204 campaign, which got a $500,000 boost from the Koch Brothers. Ducey said in a tweet, "Anyone who READS Prop. 204 will see NO MONEY goes to children's education." Really? No money? Where does all that money go? According to Ducey, it goes "to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats." What will those bureaucrats do with all that money? Ducey doesn't say, but he says firmly, "The money will not go to the teachers and classrooms, where it is needed most."

Lies, lies, lies. The money would have gone predominantly to teachers and classrooms. Contrary to popular belief, promoted and encouraged by Arizona's public school haters, we don't spend lavishly on administration. In fact, we have the lowest per student cost for administration of any state in the nation. If you want to find Arizona schools that spend a lavishly on administration, you have to go to charter schools, which devote far more of their budgets to "bureaucrats" than school districts. But something tells me Ducey wasn't talking about wasteful spending at charters.

So. Ducey stood strongly and publicly against a proposition that would have added three times as much to education funding as the $300 million a year he wants to steal from the children of tomorrow to spend on the children of today. Ducey's $300 million plan would move us from 48th place in per student funding to . . . 48th place. We wouldn't budge. That billion dollars he fought against would take us to 45th place, tied with Tennessee. That would still leave 90 percent of the states spending more than us, but it would make a significant difference, improving students' educations and increasing teacher retention by raising teacher salaries, increasing classroom supplies and lowering class size. The kids would have greater opportunities to learn, and the teachers would have a more fulfilling experience every day in the classroom and a more pleasant experience when they got their paychecks at the end of the month. Ducey's plan? It would put us back where we were in 2009—underfunded—when the Republicans illegally cut education funding. (Actually, it would only get us to 70 percent of where we were in 2009. Only a deadbeat dad [#deadbeat] would say he supports his kids by using their own money to restore 70 percent of what he's taken away [I'm sorry, have I said that before? If so, it bears repeating, again and again and again and . . .])

Ducey said the $300 million in extra funding he's sending to the voters in Proposition 123 is only a first step. Which begs the question, what's his next step? It isn't adding more education funding to the budget. Even a little extra would get in the way of his plan to give his rich friends a tax cut, and a significant boost in funding would require a tax increase, something Ducey promised he would never do. The next step he's talking about isn't more funding. So what is it?

Ducey's plan is to reallocate the existing funding. He says he wants to put more in the classroom, but with our lowest-in-the-nation per student administrative costs, there's not a lot of money to move. What he really wants to do is take funds away from districts with low income students and give them to districts with high income students. He calls that rewarding success. Ducey's definition of "success" is schools where students get high scores on standardized tests and take lots of AP classes. Translation: schools with high income students. And in a zero sum game with no new funding, the money for those schools would come from schools with low income students.

Governor Ducey does not support education at the K-12 level or at the college level. He supports starving the schools and cheating our students, though he'd cheat high income children, who are his kind of people, a little less than low income children.

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