Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Arizona Rep Dr Eric Meyer We're not done. Our voices are needed now!

We are in the national news again. Arizona is 48th in per student funding, spending almost $3500 less than the national average, according to the most recent Census data. 
The New York Times reports that 41 of Arizona's 230 school districts will operate on a four-day week as a cost-cutting measure when the new school year begins in August: The Washington Post reports on the "exodus" of teachers from Arizona, due to low salaries, limited resources and endless testing requirements: In 2013-14, 24 percent of first-year teachers and 20 percent of second-year teachers left their jobs.

In seeming recognition of this crisis, Gov. Ducey recently proposed a change in the distribution of funds available from the state land trust fund. He asked the Legislature to refer a change in the constitution to the ballot in 2016. If it passes, there will be "new" money available to our public schools in the amount of about $300 per student -- but that is far short of what is needed.

Worse, his proposal likely means that there will be no additional efforts from his office to restore pre-recession funding for our public schools until at least 2017. He will continue to ignore the court-mandated restoration of inflation funds.       

Teacher shortages, large class sizes, and high dropout rates will remain the norm in Arizona. Pressure to expand vouchers and tax credits will increase in order to help more families send their children to private schools - and that is, I fear, the ultimate Ducey agenda.

Higher education is targeted, too. After the most recent Republican budget cut an additional $99 million from our state universities, all three were forced again to raise tuition or increase fees, and those costs will be passed along to Arizona's families. 

We have other choices. There is money available. The rainy day fund alone totals $450 million and current revenues are higher than forecast by some $220 million.
What you can do to help:

*  On social media, use #AskDuceyWhy. Ask why Arizona spends the least of any state in the nation on students in public schools. Ask why Arizona's governor and Republican leadership refuse to provide the court-ordered funds due our schools for inflation. Tell them to restore the funding cuts to our public schools and state universities.
*  Stay informed.  Follow my campaign to hold Gov. Ducey accountable for our public school funding crisis on Facebook and share my posts with your friends.

*  Donate to support our social media campaign.  Gov. Ducey has unlimited resources.  I have you!  Click here to donate.  

Arizona's kids deserve better.

What we do today will make a difference. Thank you.

Rep. Eric Meyer, M.D., Legislative District 28
Minority Leader, Arizona State House of Representatives