Friday, October 16, 2015

Today's AZ Ed Funding News

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 at 9:05 AM

Another day, more news about Arizona's education funding problems. I'll have the Quote of the Day and the Email of the Day a bit later, but first, the most important News of the Day, from the front page of the Star.
The Tucson Values Teachers study, sponsored by the University of Arizona’s College of Education and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, revealed the median annual wage for secondary teachers in Tucson when cost of living is factored in is more than $16,000 below the national average for secondary teachers and the lowest in a comparison of nearly a dozen major western cities, including Phoenix.
Wow. That number is far higher than I imagined, and I knew it was bad. If Tucson teachers made $8,000 less than the national average when adjusted for cost of living, that would be outrageous, scandalous. But $16,000? Wow.

Thanks to Tucson Values Teachers and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council for joining up with the UA College of Education to put together the study (and the Star for realizing this is front page news). It's good to see business-oriented groups putting their efforts behind exposing how poorly our local teachers are paid. To move the ball forward on school funding in general and teacher compensation in particular is going to take a broad coalition, which has to include a sizable portion of the business community.

One bit of information that came from Marian Salzman, executive chair of Tucson Values Teachers, struck me as especially telling.
“At Raytheon there are over 400 professional jobs open right now which would equal $60 million into the local economy,” Salzman said. “One of the top reasons they feel they can’t fill those jobs is they have a difficult time recruiting people who are coming with families to come to this area because of the questions around the schools. That’s an awful lot of income tax and property tax that isn’t getting paid into the community.”
Four hundred jobs. That's exactly the number the Rosemont Mine folks throw around. "Let us wreak havoc on the Arizona landscape and the environment," they say, "and we'll bring you 400 jobs!" Here's a better idea. Let's put some desperately needed money into our education system and attract educated people and high wage businesses to the state. Unlike the Rosemont Mine, those jobs won't disappear when it's no longer profitable to dig copper out of the ground.

Now, for the Quote of the Day. It's another one of those videos from Governor Ducey's office touting his plan to take money from the state land trust to boost education spending. It's just like the earlier video but with a different couple of people singing Ducey's praises. One of them is Dr. C.T. Wright, senior board member of the Fountain Hills School District. Here he is, not just lauding Ducey's plan, but saying Ducey will move Arizona education up to Number One in the nation.
"Once all of [Ducey's] programs and policies are implemented, Arizona will move up to Number One. Some say we're at 49 or 50 now. I guarantee you, once his ideas, his policies, his statutes are implemented, Arizona will have the greatest educational system in the nation."
If you have any sense, you don't use a line like that in your video. "Um, Dr. Wright, can we try that again, maybe without the, um, Number One thing?" But I guess they decided that wasn't necessary. In the "Hyperbole r us" world of Republican politics, Wright's statement doesn't seem like that much of a stretch.

And finally, the Email of the Day, from former Senator Russell Pearce. Remember Pearce, the father of SB1070 whose crazy rhetoric made other Republicans appear moderate by comparison? Since he was recalled, he's taken a job as manager of the technical services division at the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office, because, I suppose, of his mastery of technical issues and his deep knowledge of all things pertaining to the country treasury. I mean, why else would he be hired?

Pearce used his official email for what looks a whole lot like an unofficial purpose, to send out a message with his take on education funding. From the AZ Capitol Times' Yellow Sheet Report:
Using his official county account, Pearce yesterday sent an email at 5:17 pm to lawmakers with the subject line “education opportunities,” warning them that they don’t have enough money to satisfy the “educrats” and urging them to demand that any new education funding proposal include accountability measures.
Just when you thought you'd never hear of Russell Pearce again.

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