Goldwater Report Finds School Funding Not Getting To Classrooms, Teachers

Goldwater Report Finds School Funding Not Getting To Classrooms, Teachers

By B. Hamilton |

Two topics that arise year after year, teacher’s salaries and public-school budgets, are often misunderstood and misrepresented. In fact, many say the RedForEd movement was created and nurtured with those misunderstandings and misrepresentations.

The misunderstanding and misrepresentation has led to frustration for taxpayers and parents. Many of whom feel that no matter how much they pay in taxes, nothing seems to get better in kids’ classrooms.

A new study by the Goldwater Institute indicates those feelings and frustrations might be justified.

According to Goldwater, the “20×2020” plan, approved by Arizona lawmakers in 2018, was designed to provide enough funding to give Arizona teachers a 20% raise. However, Goldwater has discovered that schools are not allocating the funds the way lawmakers intended them to be.

In The Truth about Teacher Pay in Arizona: How Arizona School Districts Have Held Back Teacher Salaries, Blamed Lawmakers, and Continually Captured Public Sympathy, Matt Beienburg, Director of Education Policy at the Goldwater Institute found that “school districts used the majority of the new 20×2020 funds simply to replace, rather than add to, existing buckets of state money for teachers (and vice versa). The result: During the 2019-2020 school year alone, teachers received at least $170 million less from their school districts in salary increases than Arizona taxpayers provided for. And it’s part of a decades-long pattern in Arizona education.”

So what are schools doing with the extra funding that is being provided?

“District spending on administration, for instance, has risen by nearly $2,000 in inflation-adjusted terms per class of 20 students, even as teacher salaries were no higher through fiscal year 2020,” according to Beienburg.

Each year, teachers use their own money to buy supplies and decorations for their classrooms and to help offset the consistently growing list of “must buy” supplies sent to parents at the start of the school year. Yet, during the 1983-1984 school year almost 2,000 managers, supervisors, and directors were inexplicably added to Arizona school districts’ payrolls.

Many teachers have expressed frustration about not being a priority and tend to put pressure and blame on lawmakers as part of their demands for more money. It seems, though, that it is the school district administrators who need to feel the pressure and are to blame.

This last year has also placed additional stress on teachers and parents, with virtual and hybrid learning due to COVID-19.

Members of the state legislature requested that the COVID-19 stimulus revenue funds were given for school district use but the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has declined to distribute much of the millions of dollars.

While it may be easy to blame political leaders and taxpayers for lack of support and failing to prioritize teachers, it seems to many observers that the attention should be on the ADE, school district administrators, and school boards who need to review and reconsider their budgets and priorities.

Ducey, 19 Other Governors Call On Biden-Harris To End Border Crisis

Ducey, 19 Other Governors Call On Biden-Harris To End Border Crisis

By B. Hamilton |

As the border crisis rages, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and 19 fellow governors are calling on President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to take action to end the humanitarian debacle.

Just this week, Chief Patrol Agent Chris T. Clem tweeted: #YumaSector agents encountered a nine-year-old girl and a 12- and 17-year-old boy on the west side of Yuma Sunday morning after they illegally crossed the border into the U.S. by themselves. In the last week, agents have apprehended 24 unaccompanied children under the age of 13.

The governors are asking the Biden administration to end what they say are “destructive policies that have created the crisis at the southern border.”

They remind the administration that their letter “follows months of deteriorating conditions at the border in Arizona and other states.”
According to the governors, in March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 172,000 encounters, the highest number in nearly 20 years, as well as 18,890 unaccompanied children, the largest monthly number in history.

Also on Tuesday, the Arizona Attorney General tweeted: April stats from DHS show another record-number of encounters w/ migrants– more than 178,000 last month, including 17,000+ minors (not including “got-aways”). The longer the President maintains his reckless immigration policies, the worse this crisis at our border will get.

“As a border state, Arizona is on the front lines of the border crisis. We feel the impacts of human trafficking, drug smuggling, and this humanitarian crisis first,” said Ducey. “Now, the Biden-Harris border crisis is affecting other states too. And it’s clear the crisis is the direct result of this administration’s broken policies and botched messaging.”

“Arizona has deployed all available resources, including the National Guard, but we need federal cooperation to secure the border,” Governor Ducey said. “Today, I am joining 19 fellow governors to call for immediate action from President Biden and Vice President Harris to stop this crisis before it gets even worse.”

Arizona has been calling for action on the border crisis from the federal government for months. Last month, Governor Ducey declared a state of emergency at the southern border and deployed the Arizona National Guard to support law enforcement agencies in border regions. The Governor visited a wide-open section of the border in Yuma and called on President Biden to issue a national state of emergency on the border. Governor Ducey and Texas Governor Greg Abbott also wrote a joint op-ed in the Washington Post.

Signers of the letter include Governors Bill Lee, of Tennessee, Kay Ivey, of Alabama, Asa Hutchinson, of Arkansas, Brian Kemp, of Georgia, Brad Little, of Idaho, Eric Holcomb, of Indiana, Kim Reynolds, of Iowa, Tate Reeves, of Mississippi, Governor Mike Parson, of Missouri, Governor Greg Gianforte, of Montana, Governor Pete Ricketts, of Nebraska, Governor Chris Sununu, of New Hampshire, Governor Doug Burgum, of North Dakota, Governor Kevin Stitt, of Oklahoma, Governor Henry McMaster, of South Carolina, Governor Kristi Noem, of South Dakota, Governor Greg Abbott, of Texas, Governor Spencer Cox, of Utah, and Governor Mark Gordon, of Wyoming.

Arizona School Board Association Defends “Deification Of Whiteness” Speaker

Arizona School Board Association Defends “Deification Of Whiteness” Speaker

By B. Hamilton |

The Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) held The Equity Event April 21st – 23rd. Among the keynote speakers was the founder and lead facilitator of Social Centric Institute, Calvin Terrell.

ASBA is the primary source for policies adopted by public school governing boards across Arizona. Critical Race Theory is currently being discussed by educators who hope to adopt and implement it into schools statewide.

Many parents and school board members have questioned Critical Race Theory-based curriculum. Those that question the curriculum and disagree with the implementation are being called “toxic,” “evil,” “bigots,” etc., and Terrell says they should be removed and states that those people are creating “whitelash.”

“Whitelash” is a term that Terrell uses to describe people who disagree with what he says or believes.

In his TEDx talk at Phoenix College, Terrell promoted the bizarre Aztec-based mysticism embodied in a creed students were forced to adopt as part of the Mexican American Studies classes in the Tucson Unified School District. Concerned teachers noted that the premise of the creed was one that prompts a student to adopt a collective and or amorphous identify rather than an identify as an individual.

Terrell spoke to school board members at last month’s event about how they can help end the “deification of whiteness and the demonization of non-whiteness.”

Terrell criticizes the media for posting lies or half-truths often does it himself. During the event, he stated, without evidence, that the reason the Irish and Scottish immigrates play bagpipes during police funerals is that when they first immigrated to America to prove themselves to the whites, they became overseers of slaves.

With a quick Google search, that statement can be proven false. Experts say by providing false information like accusing a group of people of being slave overseers can only lead to the dangerous outcome of villainization and dehumanization. A technique used by some of the most heinous regimes known to man.

Terrell told board members “when you can name your part in social sickness, you can identify your role in the remedy. Be part of the healing.”

Terrell spoke freely of eliminating voices from conversation – and schools – that do not comport with his own world view.

When word of Terrell’s statements became public, the ASBA rushed to defend his divisive message and released the following statement:

“ASBA Condemns Racism and Stands Committed to Equity

Public schools have a responsibility to ensure the highest ideals of justice, citizenship, and human dignity are demonstrated and upheld, from the governing board table to the classroom. They must stand committed to leading toward and advocating for more equitable and inclusive educational environments, free of racism, where every student, teacher, staff, parent, and community member is treated with dignity and respect. As an association, we have that responsibility, too, and we take it seriously. 

In fact, in June 2020, the ASBA Board of Directors passed a resolution condemning racism and affirming the association’s commitment to equity – the opportunity, access, and inclusion necessary for every student to succeed. The resolution affirmed that “purposeful action against all forms of racism, both individual and organizational, is necessary to dismantle racism.” 

Today, an Arizona talk radio host targeted two Black leaders who spoke at our invitation at the ASBA Equity Event. Although the event featured 30 speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds and races and tackled the difficult but important subjects of culture, race, and ethnicity and their impact on students and education, these two speakers — who were black — were singled out, maligned and their comments were mischaracterized. As an organization committed to equity and also to being anti-racist, we believe it necessary and appropriate to condemn this. 

In addition to being simply wrong, such tactics and portrayals harm all students. When concepts like equity are wrongly defined or misinterpreted, with racist intent or not, it puts up roadblocks to the school board’s essential work of building greater opportunity, access and inclusion so that every student can succeed, regardless of their culture, race, ethnicity, family income, home setting, ability, gender or any other influence or characteristic that can contribute to inequities. 

We have never shied away from the fact that the pursuit of greater equity is hard work. It’s part of our core beliefs. Rest assured, we will not shy away from the work itself, either. Arizona’s students are worth it – and they are counting on us. 

We have said it before and will continue to say it again. School board members should never feel that they are placing themselves or their families at risk by serving their communities or doing what is right for kids. Remember, ASBA is here to serve you and will always be your association.”

Still, parents have questions. Among those unaddressed by ASBA is a simple one: are parents and/or board members not allowed to question what is being presented to them without being seen as “racist?” Parents want to know how they are supposed to feel comfortable and approve of the Critical Race Theory curriculum when the information their kids are being provided many times is based on misinformation or at times, outright lies?

Bill Allowing Community Colleges To Offer 4-Year Degrees Signed Into Law

Bill Allowing Community Colleges To Offer 4-Year Degrees Signed Into Law

By B. Hamilton |

On Monday, Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill, SB1453, sponsored by Sen. Paul Boyer and Rep. Becky Nutt, which allows community colleges to offer four-year degrees.

Supporters say the legislation will drive the cost of higher education lower, while detractors fear it will force the community colleges to raise taxes to afford the additional costs associated with offering 4-year degrees.

Ducey said the legislation paves “the way for Arizona’s current and future workforces and expanding opportunities for populations that are historically underrepresented in higher education.

“Arizona’s community colleges play a critical role in supporting students of all ages and equipping our workforce with skills and resources,” said Ducey in a press release. “Arizona is a school choice state, and today’s action is school choice for higher education. This is ‘Opportunity for All’ in action. It will allow students even more opportunities as they strengthen their education and expand their employment opportunities. Thank you to Senator Paul Boyer and Representative Becky Nutt for leading on legislation that supports Arizona’s higher education students and our talented workforce.”

“Today’s legislation will help people in every corner of our state,” said Nutt, who helped spearhead these efforts. “Arizona has been a national leader in school choice for many years, and allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees will take a step further in meeting the needs of adult students.”

While the legislation is seen as necessary in the rural areas Nutt represents, those in urban centers with easy access to State universities are concerned the lower cost of a 4-year degree will steer students away from the hard-to-fill trade-type careers.
The legislation will align Arizona with 23 other states, including all neighboring states, to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees in limited circumstances.

There are protections against the unwarranted expansion of courses. Under the legislation, community colleges opting to offer baccalaureate degrees must approve each program based on specific criteria, including workforce need, financial and administrative analysis of the feasibility of offering the program, and mitigating duplication.

“At Eastern Arizona College, we’re ready to support and work with students who want to get a higher education and build a career,” said Eastern Arizona College President Todd Haynie in a press release. “The legislation signed by Governor Ducey provides an accessible way for Arizona students to continue their education and build a brighter future for themselves and their loved ones. When community colleges offer four-year degrees, it opens up opportunities for more students of all ages and backgrounds. Thank you to everyone who supported this bill.”

House Passes Ugenti-Rita’s Election Integrity Bill

House Passes Ugenti-Rita’s Election Integrity Bill

By B. Hamilton |

On Tuesday, the Democrats in the Arizona House of Representatives attempted to prevent a vote on an election integrity bill, and then when that failed, Rep. Athena Salman called for a boycott of the state if the bill passed.

Earlier in the day, Democrat lawmakers refused to show up to work in order to prevent a quorum as part of their effort to block a vote on SB1485.

Later, in a vote along party lines, Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita’s bill passed and is now headed back to the Senate.

SB1485 would remove people from the Early Voting List (EV), who don’t return their mail ballot for two consecutive election cycles from the permanent list, which allows voters to automatically receive a ballot before each election.

Not everyone shared Salman’s view.  Sen. TJ Shope, a moderate Republican, tweeted his support for the bill:

Sen. Salman and the Arizona House Democrats continue to make discredited statements about SB1485, including allegations that the bill would “purge” the early voting list and “infringe” on voting rights.

The reason the bill heads back to the Senate is that it was amended to win the support of more Republican lawmakers in the House.
The amendment softened the bill, according to experts.

Before the amendments, a person could be removed from EVL after not using an early ballot in two consecutive primaries and general elections. Under the amendments, a person would have to miss all elections within a two-year period including city or other minor elections, to be dropped from the EVL.

In all cases, voters remain registered to vote. They are simply dropped from the list of mail-in ballot recipients.