Many have seen the commercials bragging about education in Arizona Sponsored by the Arizona Education Project. As an educator, I will take you into a “teachers” view of these facts, cut and pasted from their site. I will not refer to them as facts, but as claims.

10 Facts You May Not Know About Education in Arizona

Claim 1: When Arizona voters passed Prop 123 in 2016, we committed an additional $3.5 billion over ten years to education funding in Arizona – more than $350 million each year. As a result, state spending for education is up more than 10% over the last three years alone.

 

Fact: This is not “NEW” money which is a misrepresentation of the truth. The lion’s share of these monies is restitution for a lawsuit that the state lost, in which Doug Ducey is named as the state treasurer. So, he even knows this is a half-truth. That’s why he always says since 2015 in his public arguments and on the commercials.
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/az-supreme-court/1645559.html

Why did they lose the lawsuit? The State Legislature failed to fund prop 301 monies appropriately and basically took money from children and teachers to balance their budgets.

Fact: On November 7th, 2000 the voters of Arizona passed proposition 301 part of which secured cost of living increases and increases in inflation.https://ballotpedia.org/Arizona_Sales_Tax_for_Education,_Pr…
Here are some highlights: (j) For increases in teacher base level compensation, teacher compensation based on performance, and maintenance and operation purposes.
2. Automatic inflation adjustments in the state aid to education base level or other components of a school district’s revenue control limit.

Here’s a short 30 second video in response to this by Save Our Schools Arizona.  

Claim 2: Arizona is among the nation’s leaders when it comes to letting parents select the right school for their children. Nearly 1 in 2 students across Maricopa County attend a school other than the one to which they were assigned based on their home address, according to data from Yale University researchers and the Center for Student Achievement.

Yes, that may be true but now we enter “CHARTER TERRITORY” which we don’t mind unless there is shady business practices taking place. Some state legislators are going about it a dirty way to open these avenues. Some people are making lots of money. Don’t take our word for it. Read for yourself.
https://www.azcentral.com/…/steve-yarbrough-tax-c…/30760847/

https://www.azcentral.com/…/yarbrough-tax-credit-…/30894481/

https://www.azcentral.com/…/arizona-legislature-f…/998002001

There are also some shifty practices to help corporation kids to get priority over the public children.
http://www.azfamily.com/…/bill-gives-special-treatment-to-c…

Claim 3: Arizona leads the country in improvement in NAEP testing scores in math, English, and science since 2009. The National Assessment of Educational Progress – also known as the “national report card” — is considered the gold standard in measuring student progress, and Arizona is improving better than every other state in the country over a sustained period of time.

SWEET. Arizona teachers are leading the country!!!! Our teachers are excelling but our funding from the state legislature is failing miserably. The State Legislature is however in the top of the country for funding prisons. Shocker on this list they are number 1. Are they privately owned???? YES!!!!
https://www.gobankingrates.com/…/states-that-spend-the-mos…/

 

Claim 4: Arizona recently created “Teacher Academies” at our state universities. College students who go into a career in teaching after graduation and teach in Arizona will have their college tuition paid for by the state and will graduate debt‐free.

 

TINSTAAFL- There is no such thing as a free lunch. This will put these college graduates in indentured servitude where they are locked into low pay because they OWE the state. Likelihood is that they will do their time in AZ as teachers, then leave to a state which pays them more. And guess what? A fresh batch of indentured servants are on the hook. To any kid going to college, beware of this trap.

 

 

Claim 5: Five of the top seven public high schools in America are located here in Arizona, according to US News & World Report – in Scottsdale, Tucson, Oro Valley, Peoria, and Chandler.

Yes that is awesome!!!!! And they are all BASIS Schools. Which are great!!!! We have a need for BASIS schools because they provide gifted kids who can handle the rigors an amazing opportunity. BUT!!!! These schools are basically schools for the gifted, DREAM STUDENTS and they cannot be compared to the common school as a formula for success. If one state Representative has his way, a corporation who makes donations to BASIS would be able to have the children of their employees have priority over the public school kid who is there based on merit. Money talks!
http://www.azfamily.com/…/bill-gives-special-treatment-to-c…

Claim 6: Chandler and Peoria school districts were recently named among the top 10 school districts in America where students are learning more and learning faster. Students there show more than 5 years of educational growth between 3rd and 8th grades – 5.8 years of learning for Chandler students, and 5.6 years for Peoria.

Once again TOP 10 in the nation in results and almost the bottom for pay!

Claim 7: Arizona gives families more choices about where to send their children to school. Currently ESAs are available only to children with disabilities, students from foster families, military families, poorly-performing school districts, and schools on tribal land. A law expanding ESAs to all families in Arizona is on hold pending voter approval in the November 2018 election.

ESA’s are basically school vouchers. We will wait until November and see. Here appears to be the plan to get kids away from public schools.
https://www.azcentral.com/…/cathi-herrod-lobbie…/475112002/…

 

Claim 8: Arizona was the first state in the nation to require all students to pass an American civics test before graduating from high school. This ensures our high school students know the same information necessary to pass the test to become a U.S. citizen.

And why is this an amazing fact? They are looking to round out a list of 10. Civics is already a required class and they test in that class and give grades. It’s actually a redundancy.

 

Claim 9: Measured as a group, Arizona charter students score as well as students from the highest-achieving states in the country. BASIS leads of course like I mentioned, but you may wonder why they are including this.

Why are they measuring just Arizona Charter Schools as a group???

 

Claim 10: According to audits and public reports, 53% of money spent on K-12 education in Arizona makes it to the classroom. The remainder goes to administration, overhead, transportation, and other items. 

Why is this a fact? It is an attack on public school administration and who doesn’t enjoy that? But this is purely deflecting from the fact that the state does not fund education well in general. By the way, those “other items,” include such things as extracurricular activities such as sports and the arts, support staff, nurses and counselors.
Conclusion…. Make your own.

 

 

The Truth About 301

By John Harris

@IH8PD

Many in the education field praised the passage of Prop 301. Legislators lauded their own ability to funnel “more money” into K12 education. Teachers, at least reluctantly, rejoiced the passage because it helped to guarantee that the funding given back to them would continue for the next 20 years.

After speaking with several members of our Arizona legislature, I wanted to find out where the money from Prop 301 actually goes. According to the AZ Treasury Office (https://aztreasury.gov/local-govt/revenue-distributions/prop-301/), and numbers provided by Representative Paul Mosley, a member of the Banking and Insurance Committee, here is how the money is allocated this year and every year as an autopilot budget program:

With the passage of Proposition 301 in the November 2000 general election, the Department of Revenue started collecting an additional 0.6% sales tax beginning June 1, 2001. Pursuant to Section 42-5029E the monies ($667,458,515.00 for FY2017) are to be distributed as follows:

 

  1. If there are any outstanding School Facilities Revenue Bonds, 1/12 of the annual debt service amount ($64,142,501.00) is transferred to the bond debt service account. This helps districts who have passed bond initiatives pay for physical renovations to their campuses.

 

  1. Twelve percent of the remaining monies ($72,397,921.71) is transferred to the Technology and Research Initiative Fund to be distributed to each of the universities. None of this money goes into K-12 education. It is purely for University technology spending. 
  2. Three percent of the remaining monies (18,099,480.43) is transferred to the Workforce Development Account developed by each of the Community College Districts. This helps community colleges train people in technical fields to pursue employment in a trade.

 

  1. Any community college owned by a qualifying Indian tribe on its own reservation will receive a share equal to the amount each Community College District receives for workforce development. ($769,992.61)

 

  1.  One-twelfth of the amount ($86,280,500.00) for the increased cost of basic state aid due to added school days and associated teacher salary increases (FY 05 – $66,957,200). This is paid if there are any extra instructional days due to various circumstances (flooding, electrical outage, etc.)

 

  1. One-twelfth of the amount ($8,000,000.00) to the Department of Education for school safety and character education (school safety $7,800,000; character education $200,000 per fiscal year). This money goes mainly to SROs on campus to ensure that schools are “safe.” 
  2.  An amount of $7,000,000 for increased accountability in the Department of Education (ED). This amount is not to exceed $7,000,000 per fiscal year. This is to ensure the ED has our compliance with federal law and the IDEA act and FAPE. 
  3.  One-twelfth of the remaining amount ($1,500,000.00) to the Department of Education to fund the failing schools tutoring program. This was a tutoring program designed to help schools who were not meeting AYP under NCLB (now repealed).

  4.  One-twelfth of the amount ($25,000,000) goes back to the State General Fund to offset the cost of the income tax credits allowed by section 43-1072.01. This amount is used to replace money in the general fund that was taken out to give tax credits.


Combined, numbers one through nine total  $283,190,395.75. None of this money goes to the classroom for teachers or for resources used to drive instruction.

 

  1. The remaining monies ($384,268,119.45) will be used for instruction in the following way:
  1. 40% ($153,707,247.78) goes to classroom site fund to be used as performance pay.
  2. 40% ($153,707,247.78) goes to maintenance and operational purposes
  3. 20% ($76,853,623.89) goes to teachers’ base salary

 

In total, teachers have access to 34.5% of the entire amount of the 301 money. 65.5% goes other places like universities, bond payouts, community colleges, the Department of Education, and a tutoring program designed under a set of laws not in place anymore.

A good place to start with improving teacher pay is to use more of the money that the legislature says is being used for K12 public instruction and use less of it on universities, bond repayments, ED oversight, and tutoring programs that are either non-effective or have been dismantled. Prop301 needs to be redesigned, restructured, and sent back to the floor for passage; however, increasing teacher salaries is not the only way for teachers to have the ability to bring home more money.

In my meetings yesterday, I asked both representatives how many obstacles there would be to adding all teachers and Educational Support Personnel (ESPs) to the state insurance plan. Both indicated that it was an elegant solution that would give a majority of teachers an increase in monthly take-home pay without having to raise taxes.

For me, I would bring home an additional $580 a month if I were to choose the lowest-deductible state plan. That would increase my take-home pay by 26% (higher than the ask of AEU’s top demand). It would also give teachers better insurance, lower premiums, lower deductibles, and the ability to have a health savings plan that we can use for any health emergency.

At the end of the day, the goal is to increase the amount of money a teacher brings home per paycheck. How we go about doing it is going to be the sticking point. We cannot just attempt to bullrush the legislature. Many of our elected officials have been put in office by making promises to their constituents who believe they will follow through on those promises.

Like it or not, Arizona is a predominately Republican state (and I don’t mean the legislation; I mean the citizens) who do not want to increase their taxes. Property taxes in Arizona are twice what the taxes are in Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. Those who live in rural parts of the state are not willing to increase their taxes to help fund teachers or any other social service. Our number one goal should be to funnel more money into public education using the budget that has already been approved. There really is no other way around it.

©2018 IH8PD.com

Top photo borrowed from: https://azednews.com/prop-301-revenues-trend-up-raising-concerns-about-its-2021-expiration/
In-Text photo from: https://medium.com/tson-news-by-three-sonorans/how-ht-sanchez-took-teachers-money-to-hide-tusd-s-15-million-debt-the-reason-prop-301-was-971085d751cf

 

By Jay Figueroa:

Why are furious with the rhetoric of Doug Ducey? There is a tremendous amount of misinformation being spread. He continually spouts for people to “Get the facts!” It’s his almost childish way of deflecting from the truth. He continually distorts the truth by spouting, “Get the facts!” and then proceeds in telling half-truths of which he fast talks and tries to dominate the conversation before anyone can dig deeper. He knows how TV and Radio work; Get in. Build confidence. Say the word “FACTS” and get out. Well, here are some facts that Doug Ducey does not want you to recall. He only accounts for 2015-present. Enclosed are some Pre 2015 facts that he always leaves out because he is hiding a lot from the public.

Fact: On November 7th, 2000 the voters of Arizona passed proposition 301 part of which secured cost of living increases and increases in inflation.https://ballotpedia.org/Arizona_Sales_Tax_for_Education,_Pr…
Here are some highlights: (j) For increases in teacher base level compensation, teacher compensation based on performance, and maintenance and operation purposes.

2. Automatic inflation adjustments in the state aid to education base level or other components of a school district’s revenue control limit. Remember, this is what the VOTERS wanted.

Fact: In the earlier part of this decade then Jan Brewer had a choice to make with the state’s career ladder bonus program. This entailed teachers putting together a portfolio of their work to demonstrate and prove growth over the school year. This was one of the best programs in AZ because it really made teachers strive to do better and improve student performance. Her choice was to fully fund and make these bonuses available to the entire state, or cut the program entirely. She chose to cut. This was a cut of about $8,000 to many teachers who were on the program. In addition to that our salaries were cut a few thousand by our district. Now if you do the basic math. A teacher making $50k has their salary drop $10,000. That’s a 20% reduction in salary that was due to state cuts. 

http://azsba.org/…/uploa…/2017/04/Unrestored-Budget-Cuts.pdf

Fact:  The State Legislature started making illegal cuts out of the state’s 301 deal.  They broke the law by doing “their will” and not the will of the voters. Doug Ducey, in capacity of State Treasurer, was directly named in the lawsuit that ordered to make it right.  

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/az-supreme-court/1645559.html

Fact: Instead of paying back the teachers in full, now Governor Ducey, and the state legislature came up with the prop 123 scam which the state trust land were used to come up with the quick cash to settle. This was a heck of a bold move because the state trust land is there to help education in the case of an emergency. It was his emergency.

 https://research.wpcarey.asu.edu/…/State-Trust-Lands-and-Ed…

Fact: On channel 12 Sunday Square Off in January 2018, Ducey stated that the prop 123 was a settlement of a year long lawsuit he inherited, as if it was from Jan Brewer’s term. He was the state treasurer who was NAMED in the lawsuit. That is a straight out lie unless he has a multiple personality disorder and thinks he is a different person than the state treasurer. He says Prop 123 is a settlement and new money in the same interview contradicting himself. The basis of the story is stating why he thanked the Koch Brothers for enabling him to pay for advertisements that protect his record on education.

https://www.12news.com/…/gov-ducey-dismisses-d…/75-508062936

Once again. Doug Ducey does the dance to get himself out of trouble. This time he is robbing the childrens’ future funds to pay for his mistake before. He’s “robbing Peter,”…… to “pay Peter.”

http://www.politifact.com/…/vote-heres-what-you-need-know-…/

Fact: The lion’s share of the 9% new money that is put toward education is a restitution payment from the past lawsuit. 
To put into perspective. If someone smashes into your car and causes $10K worth of damages.

Then only pays you back $7,000. You would be angry. Then if that same person who hit you, tells others that he gifted you $7,000 in money and that you are greedy for wanting more. You would be irate. Not to mention. You find out that the $7,000 he paid you came from your own rainy day fund? You would be….us.

Please understand that teachers aren’t in this for the money but just want things to be made right. Teachers and children have carried this state by filling the shortcomings of our tax base for the last 18 years. We went from 34th in per pupil spending to 48th. The state legislature would have us believe that a tax increase would be catastrophic. This can be done as a combination of tax increases and removal of some corporate tax breaks. It’s time to give the kids and teachers of this state a break and think of our future.