Arizona Education Association

Spring 2013

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POINT OF VIEW by Andrew F. Morrill Reality vs. Rhetoric: the Best and Worst in Public Education Policy Grab your citizenship papers and hide your students; the legislative session has begun. This means that Jon Stewart from the Daily Show will likely make a few trips down to Arizona between now and May. Education policy and funding will figure prominently, as is true every year. We will begin the session with bills addressing student safety and end the 100 days (or so) hearing that we cannot fund every priority in our schools. This means that at some point at least one Arizona legislator will ask if we want students who are safe or well prepared for the Common Core. Those of us working in public schools know too well that in matters of educating students, a significant gap separates what we, as educators, know to work and what policymakers and hired lobbyists insist – independent of research or experience – constitutes meaningful reform. This session we will hear rhetoric that only charter schools offer innovation and improve student performance. Yet, the reality is that charters in Arizona perform at either the same level or below our public schools. Not only do charter schools fail to outperform public schools, but they are overrepresented in the lowest performing tiers of Arizona's public schools. Legislators and so called "reformers" claim that performance-based teacher compensation will increase student achievement, but even those in the private sector know that performance-based pay is limited as a lever for increased performance. Until Arizona meets basic funding adequacy across our schools, perfor- mance-based funding – whether of teacher pay or of school districts – holds more promise for headlines than reality. In fact, none of the socalled education "reforms" being implemented in the coming years will be successful if Arizona leaders do not offer a legitimate investment strategy for K-12 education. Increasingly, economic studies show that investing in public schools brings more job and personal income growth to a state's economy than passing tax cuts for large corporations. Yet, this year Arizona will give away $600 million in tax incentives to corporations – even as we face the expiration of the penny sales tax and the loss of $1 billion in funding for schools. As teachers and education support professionals, we are the ones who work on the front lines of reality. We are the first responders in moments of crisis, the true agents of education reform, and the best voices to separate rhetoric from reality. Our experience and knowledge must inform and shape the public conversation about what our students and schools need. We must speak up about what we know and speak from the heart to ensure the success of our students. Rhetorical "reform" must take a back seat to experience, research, and decency as we work collectively to build a great public school for every Arizona child. Penny Skubal Graphic Design Advertising Associate The AEA Advocate is published by the Arizona Education Association, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, Arizona 85004-1532. Phone: 602-264-1774 or 800-352-5411 Fax: 602-240-6887 Doug Stagner Editorial Associate E-mail: AEA's Web site may be found at The AEA Advocate (ISSN 0194-8849) is published in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer for $3.50 per year by the Arizona Education Association, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1532. Periodicals postage paid at Phoenix, Arizona. AEA OFFICERS Andrew F. Morrill President Joe Thomas Vice-President Nidia Lias Treasurer AEA STAFF Sheryl Mathis Executive Director Sheenae Shannon Editor -9 Spring.13advo.indd 4 Permission to reprint any material originating with this publication is granted provided that credit is given to the AEA Advocate. Andrew F. Morrill AEA President POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the AEA Advocate, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1532. 4 Spring 2013 x AEA Advocate 1/29/13 10:53 AM

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