May 26, 2022
I just read Morgan Fischer’s article “Census: State again near bottom for pupil spending” and felt compelled to comment on how the Arizona GOP continues to fail students, parents and teachers across our state. If you’ve read my previous letters, you know I’m an education advocate.
Arizona still ranks 48th among states for per-pupil spending and dead last when it came to the amount spent on actual instruction per pupil. As our state continues to hemorrhage qualified teachers due to retirement and despair, the GOP response is to fill the vacancies with folks whose credentials fail to meet educational standards. Additionally, the 2022 projections for retirements tell us the worst is yet to come.
Besides shortages for basic courses, many Arizona public schools are without teachers for music and art. They have to do without counselors, nurses and administrators like assistant principals. Maintenance staffs and supplies are limited as well. In other words, Arizona’s public schools are being starved to death because of the GOP”s commitment to privatization.
It’s time to shift our priorities away from a majority party that continues to thwart the will of Arizona families and voters. The GOP has gone to court to stop voter-approved school funding while cutting state revenue by over $1 billion per year. Voters must elect legislators who share our values. We, as voters, must ask all of our candidates about their recommendations about education and how we can help to improve our public schools in Arizona.
LD16 has two candidates that meet that criteria. They’ve both got classroom and school board experience on their resumes. If you value Arizona families, Arizona students and Arizona’s future success, I urge you to elect: Taylor Kerby (Arizona Senate) and Keith Seaman (Arizona House). It’s time for Arizona to rise to its full potential.
March 26, 2022
I’m writing this letter as a very excited retired educator. I’ve spent much of my retired time advocating and directly working on behalf of Arizona’s public schools and students. My late husband Randy and I always believed that our careers in education were meant to help future generations have a better chance for success and thereby improve society as a whole.
So often we hear candidates and elected officials claim to support public education. Yet, the majority party in our state Legislature has enacted policies that have kept Arizona among the nation’s lowest in terms of funding for our public schools. They continue to ignore the unequivocal voice of Arizona’s voters when it comes to tax policy and funneling funds to private and religious schools.
So, you ask, why am I now excited? The newly drawn state legislative map has the Casa Grande area smack dab in Legislative District 16 and as of last week, we now have two new candidates to be excited about.
Taylor Kerby, running for state Senate, is a current teacher and member of the Casa Grande Union High School District Governing Board. Keith Seaman, running for state House of Representatives, is a retired teacher and member of the Coolidge school board. Yes, folks, I’m excited because we have two candidates who know public education issues from the inside and are 100% committed to working to make things much better for our students, parents, teachers and staff!
Please join me in getting to know these two candidates and then supporting them in the 2022 election. It’s time to get excited and help take real steps to improve public education in Arizona!
February 3, 2022
Dear caring community members, I need your help to get the Arizona Legislature to take a simple step to prevent public schools in your neighborhood from falling off a fiscal cliff. Please call your state House reps and senator at 800-352-8404 — tell them to raise the Aggregate Spending Limit before March 1.
Here’s the deal. Public education has money already allocated but can’t spend it due to a 40-year-old cap on spending. With a teacher shortage already putting non-certified replacements in classrooms, building repairs needed to keep students and staff safe and just the costs of keeping the lights on, our school districts will not be able to pay their bills. If this sounds totally nuts, wait until you read why GOP legislators are balking.
They know as soon as these funds get released, it restores life for the 2020 voter-passed Prop. 208, which adds a tax surcharge on Arizona's wealthiest. So, the GOP would rather block already-allocated funds than allow a small tax hike for their donors. Every Arizona school and some 1 million students will be negatively impacted by sheer political nonsense!
This legislative session is instead focused on “brown-shirt-style" (Google it) priorities such as banning books about the Holocaust; racial history that makes some feel uncomfortable; they don’t want students to know that not everyone is heterosexual. Oh, don’t forget the “big lie”-motivated election law changes.
If you care about our students, their parents, teachers and staff, then they need your help. Please call your state House reps and senator — tell them to raise the Aggregate Spending Limit before March 1. Together, we can prevent a crisis.
November 30, 2021
Arizona’s public schools remain among the poorest funded in the nation. Our hardworking teachers struggle to make ends meet in a state that refuses to pay them as the topnotch professionals they are. Staff, classroom materials along with the buildings themselves get short shrift by a GOP-controlled legislature determined to put tax dollars into private and religious schools. While over 85% of Arizona’s students are enrolled in traditional public schools, they’re treated like second class citizens.
Now, the top GOP candidate for governor is suggesting some new money for schools. However, Kari Lake doesn’t want to improve conditions or salaries; instead she’s proposing the installation of surveillance cameras in classrooms. Lake wants to spy on teachers and students to make sure that no one mentions America’s racist history or a scientific theory not in line with strict Christian teaching or that some people are not heterosexual. Let’s be very clear — Kari Lake wants to intimidate classrooms away from being incubators of free and open-minded thought.
The impact on teachers and students under politically driven surveillance would be devastating! The freedom to express opposing viewpoints on today’s hot topics would be obliterated. History, science and social studies would be taught and discussed through the lens of being observed and threatened with recrimination, termination or expulsion. Many students already feeling social pressure would be muted completely.
As a retired educator, I shudder at that prospect. Even if Lake and her supporters are unsuccessful in implementing this horrid practice, we must not ignore the fact that this is where the GOP is headed. We, the voting public, must not allow our students to be made into the fearful robots of an extremist cult.
Please consider any vote for any Arizona Republican candidate to be a vote against public education.
July 27, 2021
I think it’s time to take a sober step back from all the name calling and mud slinging. When we get all caught up in emotional and sometimes tribal rants and raves, we lose track of what’s really going on. It’s not easy to keep our hearts, minds, eyes and ears clear of clutter and misinformation. Politics, especially in this day and age, is definitely a contact sport that requires a bit of discernment and fact checking.
Keeping all that in mind, I believe we need to take note of a significant achievement that will have an immediate and positive impact on Arizona families. If you have children 17 years old or younger and if you earn less than $75,000 per year, your family just got a pay raise.
Thanks to Democrats like CD1 Congressman Tom O’Halleran, working families will now receive much-needed help from the Child Tax Credit. This is in the form of a monthly check that will put food on your table and keep a roof over your head. This is a giant step toward alleviating child poverty across Arizona and America.
As a retired educator, I know from experience that healthy, well-fed students are much more likely to succeed. I’m so happy to see an investment in our neediest children as opposed to money squandered to the least needy and wealthiest among us.
May 10, 2021
Re article May 6, “Teachers must present both sides of ‘controversial issues’”:
It is truly remarkable that the GOP, which claims to be the party of limited government and personal freedom, finds so many ways to be all about legislative overreach and freedom killing. Just goes to show that actions speak much louder than words.
The Arizona GOP, following the radical right-wing lunacy sweeping across red state legislatures, is currently eyeballing ballots, perverting their own election laws, criminalizing women’s reproductive decisions and now sticking their intrusive noses into classrooms.
The GOP is redefining sex education to fit their extreme religious mythology, thus keeping students bewildered and less safe. Their newest bully assault on education raises “alternative facts” to equal status as truth. For example, teachers will be fined if they don’t teach the “good side” of slavery, the Holocaust and climate change. “Big lie” election results must be seriously presented along with actual voter tallies. Propaganda is being put on equal footing with facts, data and science. Whether you’re a current or retired educator (that’s me), a parent, student or advocate for quality education, you should be outraged. Fact-based education is being subverted by political and conspiracy fueled indoctrination. Our youth will be influenced in the classroom by subjective opinion rather than objective truth. Let’s be clear, we don’t even know who decides which lies get spread first.
Politicians should not determine educational curriculum. The classroom must never become an indoctrination platform — I shudder when I picture German students of the 1930s and ‘40s wearing brown shirts and goose-stepping with arms raised in salute to the Fuhrer. SB1532, as amended, will take us in that horrible direction!
February 9, 2021
As a lifetime advocate for public education, I am dismayed by our Arizona Legislature’s continued efforts in the opposite direction. Despite the unequivocal voice of Arizona voters at the ballot box time after time, our state representatives feel compelled to thumb their collective noses at the will of the people. In 2020 we voted to pass Proposition 208, which set up a dedicated funding mechanism for public education. The 2021 Legislature sees SB1783 introduced — it’s a legislative work around intended to undo this funding source.
In 2018 we voted no on Prop. 305, an attempt to expand ESAs (vouchers) beyond the original intent. Voters realized that this expansion would come at a cost to over 80% of Arizona’s student population. ESA expansion was defeated by a nearly 2-1 margin. The 2021 session has seen the introduction of SB1452, yet another attempt to circumvent voters and undermine public education. Other public education attacks are also pending in the current session. SB1400 and HB2063 are aimed at taking away the ability of teachers to make decisions in their own classrooms.
I urge you to contact your state representatives and senator and tell them to vote no on all of the bills listed here as well as any others that would hurt public education in Arizona.
Call 800-352-8404. LD8, ask for Shope, Cook and Pratt. LD11, ask for Leach, Roberts and Finchem. Public education will wither and die without our vigilance and support.
October 12, 2020
With so many wild and crazy things swirling around us all in 2020, I’m concerned that some really important issues will get neglected and ignored. Among the most crucial for the future of Arizona and America is the long-term future of public education.
My late husband Randy and I committed our professional careers and much of our retired lives to public education. We knew that the best way to achieve social and economic prosperity is by having access to quality education. The early rise and success of the American middle class was fueled by an educational system that was affordable and universally available. American industry thrived because it could rely on a workforce that was well prepared and educated. We’ve seen a dramatic shift over the past several decades. Quality education has become increasingly expensive and less available to working families. In Arizona, legislative decisions have pushed our once highly regarded system to nearly the worst in the nation by virtually every metric. Arizona is falling behind — critical teacher shortages, unsafe and poorly equipped classrooms are among the symptoms.
Today we’re faced with a decision, do we as Arizona voters pass Proposition 208 and improve public education funding or leave the status quo and ignore the problems. Prop. 208 is not a silver bullet, it’s not the perfect solution, but because we’ve got a state Legislature that continues to fail its constitutional duty, it’s all we’ve got right now.
I urge you to vote yes on Prop. 208. Even more importantly, I urge you to elect new state legislators who are committed to making sure future Arizonans have the social and economic opportunities only a quality education can make possible. In LD8, vote for Barbara McGuire for state Senate and Sharon Girard for state House. In LD11, vote for JoAnna Mendoza for state Senate and Dr. Felipe Perez for state House.
September 12, 2020
I’m amazed and not at all pleased with the suddenly aggressive letters to the editor I’m reading lately. This is especially true of the one in Thursday’s edition written by Mr. Meyer. Finding and expressing fault with what’s going on in our country is as American as apple pie. However, for some reason, Mr. Meyer feels he’s being personally attacked.
One hundred years ago white women won the right to vote; it took black women a while longer. Gay men and women can now get married in America — yet, they can still be discriminated against when it comes to housing and employment. Picket lines were walked by Americans whose heads were bashed in as they stood their ground for fair wages and safe working conditions. After too many mass killings in America, high school students told us they’d had enough and demanded some sensible action be taken. Racial, economic and criminal injustice is once again making headlines across America.
None of these issues are being shoved down anyone’s throat. None of these are meant as blaming, as much as seeking justice and improvement. To be clear, raising any of these issues does not make anyone less American, nor should it lead to anyone being told to leave the country. It is exactly that kind of venom being used by a president against anyone who disagrees with him.
Please understand, no one is now, will be or has been coming to take away your guns. People seeking freedoms and equality are not a threat to the freedom and opportunity of others. Religious freedom includes freedom from having to accept any religious beliefs. Advocating for change in America is not un-American. While Mr. Meyer states clearly that he doesn’t care, I certainly care and I hope you do as well. Our country needs care, compassion and understanding now more than ever before.