“Even before the results of the Prop. 123 special election were known, teachers, students, parents and community members came together at the #NowItStarts rally at the state capitol on Thursday afternoon to focus on the serious funding issues Arizona schools face Arizonans are ready to discuss concrete steps for further investments in public schools, said The Rev. Martha Seaman with Valley Interfaith Project.
“The relentless pattern of disinvestment has to stop,” Seaman said at the rally.
“The future of our families and our shared prosperity requires strong schools.,” Seaman said. “We can’t have a viable economy without a high level of education. It’s the best investment we can make. We can’t tax break ourselves into prosperity.””
In photo, Rev. Martha Seaman with VIP speaks on the Capitol lawn. Behind her are Jessica Johnson (VIP) and Christine Marsh (Arizona Educational Foundation’s 2016 Teacher of the Year) along with VIP organizer Joe Rubio.
[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…”
VIP leaders hand delivered a letter signed by 81 Arizona clergy, asking Gov. Ducey to reinstate KidsCare for 30,000 uninsured children. The legislature is set to debate and pass the state budget any day now, and the KidsCare measure needs to be included to allow for KidsCare to resume. There will be no cost to the state general fund.
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.
Rabbi Linder was honored last week by the Anti-Defamation League’s ‘Al’ Brooks Community Leadership Award. This is fitting recognition of Rabbi’s extensive work in the interfaith community over the past eight years.
VIP leader Monica Dorcey testified at a Maricopa Community College District board meeting to support increasing local investment in the community colleges — part of a larger economic development strategy for the region. ”These community colleges are the best driver of economic development that we have,” said Dorcey, who is also a member of the board of Arizona Career Pathways, a non-profit job-training program that has a partnership with the community colleges.
“If you don’t have a skilled workforce you’re not going to have an economic recovery for everybody.”