Monday, January 30, 2017

Ducey Bullshit Reveals His Education Budget Agenda

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 12:30 PM

What Governor Ducey said isn't a lie, exactly. It's classic bullshit, and it tells you all you need to know about the most important part of his education budget agenda.

It's in an article about how Arizona teachers' low salaries make them low hanging fruit for recruiters from nearby states where salaries are higher and benefits are better. That's one reason Arizona education advocates want Ducey to put most of his proposed $114 education budget hike into increasing salaries instead of the $13.6 million he allocated, to help retain current teachers and attract new ones. Here's Ducey's response.
The governor said he wants to see higher salaries for teachers. But he also wants full-day kindergarten, teacher debt forgiveness and broadband Internet in rural school districts, and he indicated that he’s unwilling to divert money from those priorities into more money for teacher salaries.
The best definition of bullshit is a misrepresentation which is intended to deceive. It doesn't have to be a lie to be bullshit. It can actually be substantially true so long as it serves its deceptive purpose. And Ducey's excuse for not putting more into teacher salaries is bullshit pure and simple.

Ducey's highest priority in his proposed education budget is what he calls "results-based funding." He wants $38 million for that program, close to three times what he designated for the salary boost. But he left that out of his "priorities" in the statement above.

Let's see how much the "priorities" he mentioned add up to. Full day kindergarten? He put $10 million into that pot. Teacher debt forgiveness? That comes to $250,000 — a quarter million — added to money already in the budget. Broadband internet for rural districts? That adds another $5 million. The total is fifteen-and-a-quarter million, less than half the $38 million in his "results-based funding" request. If you add all the "priorities" money to the $13.6 million he put into teacher raises, the increase goes from a dollar a day all the way up to two dollars.

Why did Ducey somehow forget to mention the program that takes the largest chunk of his education spending proposal when he listed his "priorities"? Because it's the most controversial part of his spending, and he'd like to sneak it in under the cover of darkness. "Results-based funding" would give money to the top 10 percent of Arizona schools based on their scores on the AzMERIT test. Standardized test scores are directly related to family income, in Arizona, in the rest of the U.S. and all over the world. As a general rule, the higher the family income, the higher the test scores. So that $38 million, which comes to an average $350 boost per student in the lucky schools—more than the per-student increase from Prop 123—will mainly flow to schools filled with students who are already the state's socioeconomic winners. Ducey's plan would increase the state's educational inequality for those who are already the beneficiaries of our growing income inequality.

This idea has been proposed before. Former Governor Brewer and her disgraced Education Secretary John Huppenthal tried to make it happen. Lisa Graham Keegan, who pushed through our charter school law when she was a state senator, then implemented it when she was state Education Secretary, has been promoting this idea as part of her "education reform" agenda for years. It's right in the conservative sweet spot. Use government money to help as many well-off kids as you can move into charters and private schools, and for those well-off kids who decide to stay, give them an extra financial boost over kids from poorer families. Oh, and, let's not forget, some of that extra money will go to the BASIS-type charters filled with high income, high achieving kids as well, since "results-based funding" is for charters as well as district schools.

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