I know that Proposition 204 was defeated at the polls by a two-to-one margin.
The big money behind the no on 204 groups and their anti-tax message were heard loud and clear. It’s hard to sell a tax in Arizona, even if it’s the continuation of one that’s already in place, and pays for your kid’s public education.
I know I could stand to be in a lower tax bracket, and there’s nothing that irks me more than the phrase “contribute,” as in, the more successful you are as an American, the more you should “voluntarily give” to the cause, but taxes are not voluntary. That’s called philanthropy.
But the forces behind the no on 204 movement succeeded in not only defeating that measure, but apparently half of the individual districts’ bond overrides as well. Ours in Scottsdale Unified failed, and the effect will soon be felt. Personally.
Teachers at my son’s elementary school have already gotten a letter stating there will be cuts to teaching staff, and barring some surprise money showing up, there will be no art, music or physical education. I don’t send my son to school to learn how to play kickball, but I value the fine arts and whatever music instruction he can possibly get during his day.
I have already checked into enrollment at two private schools for the coming year, but I wanted to do it the “public” way. I wanted to use our wonderful public schools for their well-rounded, pragmatic approach. I wanted to believe that we as Arizonans value the school systems in our neighborhoods enough to support them with a sales tax. It’s a consumption tax, and yet, apparently, it’s too much to ask.
I understand that as citizens we want to know that our public school dollars are being used effectively. I don’t want any wasted money in the education arena, but our teachers need money. Our districts need money. The system does need money to train teachers on common core standards, implementing a computerized system for evaluating teachers based on performance and implementing new and emerging technology in our classrooms.
Arizona teachers are not paid what their peers in Chicago’s school system are and shouldn’t have to pay the price for the public outrage felt after that city’s teachers’ strike. There is a cost for continuing education. Teacher evaluation based on results will be impossible without a computer program written for the task and without new technology, our public school children will continue to fall further and further behind. They are our employees and employers of the future.
Arizona deserves better. Here’s to hoping the no on 204 groups come up with a finance plan for Arizona schoolchildren — all of them.