Just a few quick points. No discussion about school funding in Arizona is worth a warm bucket of spit...to quote former Vice President John Nance Garner...without reference to the Arizona Auditor General's annual report on school district spending... which is available on-line for download. The report breaks down how much money each district gets from all sources and how districts spend the money they get. There is a huge range of funding and an even bigger range in how districts spend money.
Even though it enjoys huge economies of scale TUSD still gets the most funding of any local district...about $1600 more per pupil than Sunnyside and about $1700 more per pupil than Vail. TUSD and SUSD each spend less than 50% of their revenue in the classroom. TUSD spends so much more than the average for districts its size on administration that reducing that spending to just the average for very large districts would save about $12 million every year.
There is far too much in the way of missing or misleading information in both the column and the comments to respond to all of it, but here are two examples. The column talks about Arizona public schools being underfunded and that is surely accurate, but it fails to mention that the performance of Arizona students is ranked in the middle of the states. The relevant point is not how awful we are, but how great we could be if public schools were adequately funded. One of the comments urged the state to reduce the number of administrators. In this state that is the job of local school districts, and some of them do well at trimming administrative overhead, while others...TUSD being the prime example...spend more than 10 cents out of every dollar they get on useless administration.
These conversations would be much more productive if data replaced anecdotes, opinions, and impressions. The data is not hidden. It is available at the Arizona Auditor General's website.
It's time for teachers to take back their classrooms. I just left a 30-year teaching career and have a masters in Educational Leadership. Charter schools are put together by frustrated teachers who want to practice their profession to benefit the future. Administrators, when they first become administrators, have the same mindset---they want to be in a position to make things better. I don't know what happens. I was an association president, a union member my whole career, and STILL an advocate for teachers. Thank you for the article. I can relate to everything the teachers told you.
"..Moreover, when controlling for per-capita personal income (PCI), Arizona’s ranking jumps to 14th in the nation. Calculating these average salaries as a percentage of PCI is a common method that accounts for differences in the underlying wealth between states. This analysis also helps account for the differences in cost of living between states. It certainly would be inappropriate to directly compare a New York teacher’s salary against one in Arizona.."
Read more: http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2014/07/21/arizona-teacher-pay-ranks-higher-than-reported/#ixzz3Bm2uKu20
Hey Harlan, I think YOUR computer has a PROBLEM with the CAPS LOCK.
Well Tom, YOU have typed a article that got some response. I guess that YOU have succeeded in YOUR mind and in YOUR editors minds. It doesn't matter that YOU have put the proper spin and used the partial truth to do it. Right Tom. YOU made money for YOURSELF. No guilt, YOU did it for YOUR kids.
If the state would be willing to cut school admin in half and put that money towards teacher's pay and school supplies (teachers have to buy their own today) I know many teachers who have either retired early or changed jobs because they can't afford to make ends meet on a teacher's pay. Not to mention the out of control kids, the kids who need special ed (teachers are no longer allowed to recommend this or ask that the child at least be tested), they can't complain about kids who miss half the school years and so on.... Now AZ is basing their pay with the kid's grades - how can you deal with that when you have kids who don't belong in a regular classroom? Their pay gets cut because of the ignorance of the schools! I have friends who teach college level too. They are getting students who don't even know what a paragraph is, much less the other basic skills you need in college. What a mess!
Every public school teacher I ask complains more about admin, parents and the kids, than anything else. But then they go on to blame it on funding. I think they believe if more money flowed they would get it.
Public schools? Never happen. They are a "for profit" business. It's just hard to account for how they hide the profit. Some of them steal food from the lunchroom. Some steal computers.
There is such poor accountability...
In 2009, TUSD agreed to report to the state Attorney General "any violation of Arizona procurement statutes or rules, conflict of interest statutes, antitrust statutes, the Consent Judgment, or the intentional destruction of public records within five (5) business days." The Arizona Attorney General may accordingly receive copies of complaints received by the Audit Committee as required to comply with this agreement. (from TUSD website)
"Republicans have hated unions in an inexplicably visceral manner." Wrong adverb, Tom. You are the Prince of the Royalty that reigns over the 'Lie with statistics' realm. The last time I checked, the average salary for teachers in Tucson was well over $50,000. Harping on starting salary may bolster your preconceived conclusion, but it is hardly enlightening. More than any other institution, even more than the legislature, Teacher Unions are the cause of the demise of public education, presently a 150 year experiment that has failed.
I am a public school teacher in TUSD teaching at one of the top three public high schools in the state (that should narrow it down for you). Not only is my school overcrowded and underserved, but our resources have been so thoroughly slashed that we have no paper, ink, books, or tech to speak of. We must exit the campus to use the restrooms, as none exist near most “classrooms,” many of which are discarded (and possibly moldy) Katrina portables. Despite all of this, our students out-perform most and are generally unaware that they have been taken to the cleaners by the backwards-thinking legislature. Most of our faculty are seasoned veterans like myself, and each has fought fiercely and valiantly to remain in the classroom where we are most effective. I have in my possession a promissory note from the District that shows what I am owed in back pay even BEFORE the grand theft that occurred over the last decade. Short of a class-action lawsuit, our hands are tied because if we do leave, the back monies we are owed may never be paid. We used to call this indentured servitude, but now we call it teaching in the public school system.
Charter schools provide one avenue of escape for parents and their kids trapped in low performing districts and schools but yes, they need to be tightly regulated on the same dimensions as the other public schools and held accountable to the same standards of student achievement.
That said, comments focusing exclusively on charters and Republicans miss the mark. Under Bush and now Obama, public K-12 education (non charter) has been sold to private concerns, e.g. Pearson, who've commandeered assessment, curriculum and professional development under both administrations. Pearson, again for example, has donated roughly $100 million annually in lobbying; 94% to Democrats! They have spent additional millions sending school administrators on luxury junkets to Australia and Indonesia for "international conferences" with global educators. In return, these districts embrace and purchase millions of dollars from the vast catalog of Pearson education products.
NYC, LA and Chicago - hardly cities in red states - have embraced the Common Core standards and are deep in bed with corporations and privateers pushing CCSS. LA recently retreated from its $500 million deal with Apple and Pearson in the face of what has been labeled in the press as a fiasco and is now subject to investigations into procurement irregularities. And on and on.
Today's actors, Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill and Melinda Gates et. al. have continued the sell out of public education to private interests under the guise of school reform. My suggestion? Begin by radically reforming the roles of federal and state authorities in the funding of public education. By reform I mean gut all federal and state intervention to the bare bones and pipe those funds now spent on the alphabet soup of reform (NCLB, CCSA, PARCC) directly into public school districts. Eliminate the middlemen and their bureaucracies of compliance officers. Let local educators in districts and schools decide where and how to spend the money beginning with teacher salaries and supplies for their classrooms. Let administrators be paid as support staff and mid level bureaucrats.
Teaching should be viewed as a profession and teachers should be compensated as professionals. That will not happen until salaries and benefits are commensurate with the responsibilities faced by teachers every day.
Several years ago, as a Senior Vice President of a consulting engineering firm, all of us "executives" were called into a conference room by the CEO and told in no uncertain terms that we all worked for the project managers (who were subordinate to us). He went on to state that if we were to be successful as a firm, our success would be determined by our project managers.
This wisdom applies today to our teachers. If we are to be successful as a community and as a nation, our success will be driven by our teachers. I think we need to stop dithering over Common Core, NCLB, high stakes testing and all the buzz words and alphabet soup the education industry inflicts on us and let our teachers teach.
And pay them for their contributions.
As long as there is a GOP supermajority in Phoenix, there will be a thinly veiled effort to kill public education and push charter schools. And the comment above is very true: charter school administrators are allowed enormous salaries (higher than many top public superintendents) that have never been properly investigated or reported. All they have to do is survive a few years and they get rich, all while they hire and fire low salary, uncertified teachers and enjoy far less documented oversight. Why has no responsible reporter EVER investigated this?
Everything you said so true. Throughout the State teacher recruitment and retention is a tremendous problem. I asked one State legislator how many applicants there would be for a teaching job if the starting pay was $80,000 a year. Obviously hundreds of applicants. I said you guys are always after market based solutions. There it is. People with kids have to vote and stag involved. Otherwise the Tea party types, who represent old white people who had someone else pay for their kids, but now don't want to spend a dime on their future caregivers, especially brown people, will always win out.
My beef is with the charter school industry and believe me it is an industry with powerful lobbyists, and a legislative agenda. This was all touted as "free market capitalism" but in reality its corporate welfare that undermines legitimate education.
If a public school administrator takes taxpayer money and buy a sports car he or she would be doing hard-time in Florence. In the case of a Charter School, say owned by a Turkish Muslim, (nothing wrong there) it doesn't even need to be disclosed! Taxpayer dollars handed directly to foreign and domestic corporations with no oversight. That's GOP capitalism.
Since charter schools do no better in getting kids to pass these ludicrous exams than public schools, let's pull the plug and let the free markets fend for themselves in the free market.If your product is good, folks will buy it, if not, please leave our treasury alone.
It is a horrible time to be a teacher in Arizona. Not only are there unruly kids in the classroom who couldn't care less about the teacher or the subject matter; they openly cheat, are on their phones, talking among themselves because they know that nothing will be done because of the fear from law suits or job losses. I consider myself a liberal, but the worst thing that happened to education despite the legislation and lack of parenting was social promotion. Kids should be taught all the subject matter, but at their own level. Inclusion, in theory helps to socialize and include all without stigmatation, but in reality; inclusion just shines a blaring light on the inadaquacies of certain students. One teacher in the classroom cannot address all the different learning levels of the students so nobody learns in the process. If they say that it can be done, somebody hasn't been in the classroom. General Ed teachers are being forced to become Special Ed teachers without the training because of inclusion. They are suppose to adapt or modify lessons for those students on top of doing everything else that is demanded of them. I am not saying that all Special Needs students cannot function in a regular classroom because some Special Needs are smarter than the regular kids and are more creative, and have better manners and great hearts, but for the most part inclusion is a big failure without the resources to make it work. Teachers are working all of the time and when you can't have a life after work; it is time to rethink job choices and until something is done - teaching isn't worth it.
Fantastic -- and quite hilarious -- accounting of your experiences Mr. Thompson. If your predicted recidivism results in another burst of literary brilliance, then I'm all for it. To the posters: this is literature, not a blog. Who are you all to tell him how to live his life? You know him? You care about him? Leave him the hell alone with your unwarranted attacks and unnecessary sympathies; comment on the writing, the subject, not the author. Contrary to your beliefs, not everything relates back to you. Please keep writing, sober or not.
i read this years ago before i knew anything about drugs. now it is too real...though i wish i ordered some pods when i first read this
Beautifully woven story; rich in our culture and our beloved Mariachi music... Los Changitos makes our community proud!
You repeated the Tom Horne paragraph.
All this and a lot more is on the Stonewall Democrats of Arizona page http://stonewalldemsaz.org/candidates.htm
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