[Excerpt below from Oped by Rev. Martha Seaman and Rabbi John Linder of VIP]
“As the Prop 123 election draws to a close and sentiment around it is more polarized, we need to underscore the importance of its passage. While admittedly imperfect, it does provide a way to get beyond the long-standing school inflation lawsuit.
We wish the agreement provided more than 72% of what the schools are owed. We’d also prefer that the dollars came directly from the General Fund rather than the State Land Trust and that it would omit seemingly arbitrary spending ceilings. But Arizona has dug such a deep hole for education funding for over three decades that our schools need an immediate infusion of funds, particularly to pay teachers long overdue raises….
The proposition can be a constructive first step—if it is connected to a plan…”
One hundred Valley Interfaith Project leaders from Legislative District 28, North Phoenix and Paradise Valley, gathered Feb 11 for a Civic Academy on state education finance.
VIP Leaders taught in detail fiscal constraints the state has placed on public education over the past 40 years, when once ranked in upper half of states for per pupil spending.
Special Guests in attendance were State Superintendent of Education, Diane Douglas, Legislators Kate Brophy McGee and Eric Meyer, Paradise Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Jim Lee, and the Morrison Institute’s Dan Hunting.
VIP leaders taught about the mounting legislative threats to public school funding: universal Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, phasing out of desegregation funds, and the quiet change to current year funding in the past budget cycle. All of which threaten to undo he progress proposed by Proposition 123, a negotiated settlement to partially restore withheld state inflation funding.
Over 100 Valley Interfaith Project leaders from 38 institutions, joined by sister organizations from Yuma and Prescott, gathered in Phoenix June 13 to launch strategies for summer and fall organizing.
The assembly reflected upon the importance of organizing within local institutions and reviewed the new Arizona State Budget and 2015 legislative process. This entailed hearing directly from the leaders involved in VIP’s weekly legislative presence at the Capitol this past spring. These leaders shared stories from the just-finished legislative session, particularly noting what they experienced during the budget negotiations which were passed with a minimum of citizen input or public deliberation.
Dividing themselves geographically by legislative districts, leaders then studied the shifting demographics, voting patterns, and electoral challenges in their respective legislative districts; the study served as a foundation to the tailoring of non-partisan organizing strategies geared toward fall 2016. These cluster strategy teams committed to a summer/fall strategy for local organizing efforts around school district override and bond measures, prison reform, workforce development, and quality affordable healthcare access.