Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 3:45 PM

Bill Buckmaster went and did it. On his Aug. 10 radio show, Bill asked his guest, Doug Ducey, "What is the next step for getting more money into the classrooms?" In the next few minutes, Ducey, employing his usual word-salad-sprayed-through-a-garden-hose style of answering questions, said lots of things about improving education but never said a word about increasing funding. What we were pretty sure we knew about Ducey's position since the beginning of our "Next Step" Watch is now official. No. New. Money.

Here's some of what Ducey said, with commentary.

•"[Prop 123] put additional resources into K-12."
Well, yes and no. True, there's more money flowing into schools courtesy of Prop 123, but calling it "additional resources" is heavy-duty political spin. This isn't additional funding, it's giving the schools part of what the legislature withheld illegally starting in 2009. We don't pat bank robbers on the back for returning the money they stole, do we? And we don't say the bank has "additional resources" when it gets its money back.

•"I want to see our teachers better rewarded."
Great. I assume "better rewarded" means higher salaries, though I have to admit, it's dangerous to make assumptions. Maybe Ducey wants to pass out "Good Job!" medals that teachers can wear with pride as they try to figure out how to pay their rents and mortgages and put food on their family tables. But beyond Prop 123, which raised our teacher salaries a bit, where will we get more money to make our salary schedules competitive with other states?

•"I want to see results and outcomes that come from additional resources."
So. If Ducey doesn't see enough "results and outcomes" from the "additional" Prop 123 funding, he's not likely to give schools more money. And if he sees strong "results and outcomes," that means we don't need any more money, right? Brilliant! Ducey's "No more money" argument wins either way.

•"I've talked with the education organizations and the constituency that we've built to pass 123 . . ."
OK, you've talked with them, but have you listened? Every education organization and many of the people who worked to pass Prop 123 say our schools need more money. They worked with you to pass Prop 123. It's time for you to work with them.

•"What are we going to do in terms of classroom funding? We've got an initiative called 'Classrooms First' looking at how these funds flow and how we get more effectiveness out of the $10 billion that's already flowing into K-12."
Ah, yes, Classrooms First, with a voting majority looking for ways to shift existing money towards charter schools and districts in high rent areas.

"These," Ducey said, "are the next steps in terms of K-12 education."

Ducey's answers to Bill Buckmaster's question is as clear as it can be. No. New. Money.

We have an election coming up where voters have a choice between "No more money for education" and "More money for education" candidates. Everyone running for office should be asked, "Which side are you on?" Then voters can show which side they're on by the way they mark their ballots.

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