Where to begin? How about the beginning section of the flashy online 2016: Year in Review titled Educational Excellence, which says Prop 123 "is adding $3.5 billion to our K-12 education system over the next 10 years." Prop 123 gives back a portion of what the deadbeat dads and moms on the Republican side of the aisle at the Arizona legislature stole from the state's school children in 2009. Yes, stole. Lest we forget, the lege illegally violated the 2000 voter mandate in Prop 301 to use a new sales tax increase to increase K-12 spending. When you renege on child support mandated by law, then pay some of it back, you don't get to pat yourself on the back for your generosity.
Right under the Prop 123 lie, Ducey says the 2017 budget "injected an additional $142 million into K-12 education and an additional $38 million into universities." Nope. Most of the K-12 money was to cover inflation and increased enrollment—that's stay-even money—and to delay planned funding cuts to schools—that's we'll-get-you-next-year money. The $38 million for universities includes $8 million to cover increased student population, $5 million to pay for the "economic freedom schools" which were previously funded by the Koch brothers, and $19 million total in one-time money to our three universities. With the amount slashed from university budgets over the past few years, that $19 million is small change and small comfort.
Directly below that comes the next deception: "The governor’s Classrooms First Initiative is making sure new money for our schools remains a top priority for Arizona." Nope. The Classrooms First initiative isn't about new money. It's about redistributing the insufficient funding that's already there, most likely giving more of it to charter schools and to schools filled with children from affluent homes.
The last sentence in that part of the document says, "Arizona is committed to providing every student with a world-class education." Whoever wrote that should be grateful there's not an Education God sitting in a classroom in the sky. If there were, a lightning bolt, or maybe a giant wooden paddle with the words "Board of Education" written on it would have come crashing down on the lying wordsmith's head.
Then this: "One of the first actions of this year’s legislative session was a $28 million investment in Joint Technical Education Districts to help students learn what they’re passionate about and prepare them to succeed in post-secondary education." Wrong again. The legislature took $30 million away from JTED the previous year, and the business community screamed because it depends on the technical education programs to provide competent new hires. So Ducey and the Republicans put back $28 million for JTED in the current budget. Like Prop 123, that's giving back money you took away to help fund tax breaks for businesses and the wealthy. It's not an "investment."
And finally, this, a headline that reads, "Serving As A National Model For Education Excellence." The evidence? "In April 2016, U.S. News and World Report released its 2016 rankings of the country’s best high schools; Arizona is home to three of the top ten in the nation." That's three BASIS schools, containing an academically select group of students, culled down to a smaller group of high school seniors who have taken lots of AP courses. That's a model for a way to give high achieving students a strong academic education, something you can find in other schools across Tucson and across the country. Beyond the bogus BASIS example, "A National Model For Education Excellence"? Arizona? Not so much.
Don't count on much in the way of "next step" money for education in the next legislative session. There's barely enough money in the budget to fund the state needs at their current level and give promised tax cuts to Ducey's buddies. It's time Ducey adapted his #deadbeat initiative to cover the deadbeat legislators who vote against increased funding for our school children. In the words in his 2016: Year in Review:
Governor Ducey announced the #deadbeat initiative in his 2016 State of the State Address, which aims to hold child support evaders accountable. The initiative posts photographs, names, and amounts of child support owed on social media in order to highlight #deadbeat parents who skirt their financial responsibilities. The initiative has been a great success, locating evaders and serving as a deterrent for others who don’t want to show up on social media.