Wednesday, October 14, 2015

AZ Ed Funding News Update

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 at 2:30 PM

Education funding proposals are making news, if not progress. Doug Ducey is touting his plan to take $325 million a year from the state land trust. He held a telephone town hall in Peoria (One of his grandiose statements was trashed in an AZ Republic fact check). And his office put out a video which could stand a bit more substance, not to mention higher production values. His dark money friends have more cash, so I'm guessing they've got something more professional in the works.

Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker David Gowan have a plan of their own, as do the Democrats and Diane Douglas. Douglas is trying to get the word out on her funding and other proposals with her "We Heard You" tour, a follow-up to her "We Are Listening" tour (She's scheduled to hit Tucson Nov. 19). In a "strange bedfellows" twist, Douglas said she wants to find ways to collaborate with people she's clashed with, by which she means Doug Ducey and the State Board of Ed. Meanwhile, she says she talked with the Arizona Education Association when she was putting together her proposals and apparently received a more positive reception. AEA President Andrew Morrill had some good things to say about her approach.
Andrew Morrill, president of the association, said the report covers some topics like student poverty he feels have been widely swept under the rug.

"Here’s an elected leader of education, and one I know has been in the press for a variety of reasons, but who says we better have a conversation about students not only about how they learn but how they live," Morrill said of Douglas.
There's a headline for you. Tea Party Meets Teachers Union. Handshakes Follow. It's not a marriage made in heaven—there are lots of areas of disagreement—but Douglas and the AEA have found some common ground, grounded in trying to do what's best for Arizona's children.

Meanwhile, some Republican legislators are working to throw a monkey wrench into all the education proposals. Rep. Mark Finchem and House Majority Whip David Livingston want everyone to slow down and take a breath. We're going about this funding thing all wrong, they say. We need specific goals with metrics so we can measure the educational effects of adding funding. Otherwise, funding the schools at the level required by law, which still leaves us hanging around in the bottom of the per-student funding barrel is . . . right, you guessed it . . . "throwing more money into education."
Livingston today told our reporter that he concurs with Finchem’s complaints yesterday that the education funding plans proposed thus far are missing accountability measures to ensure the money will actually improve the state’s education system and make sure the additional money doesn’t just go into a black hole. “I think [Finchem] is correct that just throwing more money into education doesn’t fix anything. What good does that do? We need results, we need better results,” he said.
I'm not telling tales out of school when I say that Finchem and Livingston are part of The Ted Cruz for President Arizona Leadership Team. I'm sure they're both proud of being part of what Cruz calls "such an accomplished group of conservatives in Arizona."

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