Settling for scraps

desk & chairEveryone’s in a flutter over Governor Ducey’s plan to increase education funding without raising taxes. How marvelous that the Governor, after working tirelessly to defund schools and defeat ballot initiatives for additional funding, now sees the need to pull Arizona schools up from the very bottom of the funding pile.

What a coincidence (wink, wink) that this news comes on the heels of a Census Bureau report that claims Arizona is #1…in lowest per pupil funding for K-12 schools and #1 in lowest per pupil teacher pay.

But hey, not to worry, we get lots of money from the federal government. In fact, because our economy is so bad and because we have some of the highest rates of childhood poverty in the nation, the federal government gives Arizona more money to help its students than almost any other state.

So much for taking care of our own. Our legislators should be thanking the feds because they seem to be the only ones that care about Arizona’s kids.

But wait, the Governor is going to take care of this. He’s going to ask the legislature – the ones who have slashed funding for schools and families – to put a measure on the ballot that will increase funding a whooping $300 per pupil. But only if they can resist the temptation to make the ballot measure about education and education only. And only if voters approve it. And only for 10 years.

So if everything goes juuuust right, we’ll be closer to #47 than #50.

Wow. Way to raise expectations, Governor.

At what point will our leaders – both legislative and business leaders – have the courage (and smarts) to realize that if all you do is take from your most precious resource, they won’t have anything to give in return? At what point will they focus on long-term strategies to strengthen our state instead of focusing on band-aid approaches to the crises that have been years in the making?

I’m not giving the Governor or his supporters a hand for one more sad attempt at snowing voters into believing they’re serious about putting Arizona kids first. If they truly care about Arizona’s kids… let me say that again… ARIZONA’S KIDS… then they’ll do more than throw a few scraps their way.

At the very least, our kids are deserving of average. That means we’ll need to prioritize education over additional tax cuts. It might even mean we roll back some of our tax cuts. (Gasp!)

We’re almost a third below the nation’s average for education funding. More than $3,000 behind. We can’t afford to mess around with these little small-brained, low-bar gimmicks that are nothing more than feel-good measures. Our kids deserve better. Our state deserves better.

I challenge our leaders to explain why they think Arizona deserves less.


  1. Boca Veritas

    Well said Julie. I too fear that most voters will view this as a significant improvement in school funding when it is nothing more than a pittance. Moreover, what funds are allowed will be released through a yet undefined funding formula that I’m sure will favor charter schools over the general public schools. If Ducey was serious about helping Education, he should begin by paying the money the Court ordered instead of fighting this payment!

  2. Kitty Beder

    I am speechless that the local news media is touting Ducey’s plan as a “good first step!” It just shifts negative opinion away from the failure of our elected officials to take care of Arizona students. Your article is a great reminder that we might need to do more than challenge him.

  3. Dennis Gilman

    Excellent article Julie. It’s also worth noting that Ducey pulled this stunt the same time that the board of regents announced forced lay offs. College students will pay more for less as tuition goes up.

  4. Sheila Rubio

    Thank you for writing this! As a proud public school parent I am more that frustated with the state of educational funding in Arizona. I find the Governor’s plan insulting!

    1. Mike Norton

      Ducey dusted our schools. After the promises he made to get elected, he had few choices. That doesn’t justify what happened. It’s just political life. But, I doubt he had any idea how angry the voters would be including Republicans who stood behind him.

      Now he has made a nominal offer of the peace pipe.

      Perhaps – – – just perhaps – – – – this is just a first step. If so, educators should remain engaged with the Governor and the dominant political party and find a way to guide the 2nd, 3rd and 4th steps to education finance reform.

      If Ducey has played us for fools, we can always walk away. If this is a first offer of peace, we were the fools to refuse to respond to the gesture.

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