Arizona Education Association

Summer 2016

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SUMMER 2016 | ADVOCATE 7 E ven before the results of the Prop 123 special election were known, teachers, students, parents and community members came together at the #Now It Starts rally at the state capitol on May 19, 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 future of our families and our shared prosperity requires strong schools.," Seaman said at the rally. "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." The top budget priority for most districts for Prop 123 funds is supporting teachers with salary increases and classrooms with additional instructional resources. Nancie Lindblom, Mesa Education Association member and 2013 Arizona Teacher of the Year, said most teachers leave the profession in Arizona after their fi fth year. "If we want to keep our teachers in the classroom for 20, 30 and 40 years like we have today, we need to make sure that we're funding education," Lindblom said. "We need to provide our students with the opportunities they have to be successful and we can do that if we make that commitment today if we step forward and invest in all of our students," Lindblom said. Rony Assali, a math teacher at Arcadia High School and member of the Scottsdale Education Association, said Prop 123 should be just the beginning of the effort to more adequately fund Arizona public schools at the #NowItStarts rally. "Let's be clear, Prop 123 as contentious and gut-wrenching as it was only addresses a fraction of the problem we face in school funding," Assali said. Back in the '80s, Arizona ranked 34th in per-pupil funding, and in the '60s, the state ranked 19th, Assali said. "When we invested more in our schools, our state tax efforts were stronger, meaning we taxed higher for the state general fund because that's how the majority of public education's funded," Assali said. "We've cut taxes almost every single year since 1990, so guess what? We've manufactured this crisis," Assali said. "While lawmakers from both parties by the way have voted these tax cuts in over the decades, we the citizens have allowed it to happen every year." Assali said that accounting for infl ation and population growth, "our state has lost $3.7 billion in revenue every single year. We don't have a spending problem in Arizona, we have a revenue problem." Now, the focus should be on what happens next, said Christine Marsh, Scottsdale Education Association member and 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year at the #NowItStarts rally. at the capitol Community Comes Together to Support Education at Capitol #NowItStarts #NowItStarts Christine Marsh, right, Arizona Educational Foundation's 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year said it's time for everyone to come together to focus on the education and future of all Arizona's children at the rally. Rally co-chair Jessica Johnson with Valley Interfaith Project is to her left. Rony Assali, a math teacher at Arcadia High School, talks about how tax cuts since the 1990s have severely decreased the amount of money in the state's general fund at the #NowItStarts rally at the Arizona State Capitol on Thursday, May 19, 2016. "Join me in letting candidates and policy makers know that we expect them to support public education and public schools," Marsh said. Jen Darland with Arizona Parent Network said she's asking all parents, grandparents and other family members who are eligible voters to support pro- education measures and candidates and ask them "one question, are these candidates willing to swear to uphold their oath and pledge to you that should they be elected they will make increased funding for our public schools and our teachers their number one budget priority." Photo by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews Photo by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews

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