Friday, February 26, 2010

Your View: The Impact of Public Education Cuts

In our February 19, 2010 newsletter and on our website, we've solicited your stories on how cuts to public education funding are affecting you. Here you'll find some of the responses we've received.

These cuts are real and they are impacting classrooms around our state--in K-12 public schools and our community colleges and universities. Now is the time to have an open and frank conversation about the consequences of being at the bottom for public education spending.

Your voice matters. We encourage you to share your experiences. Send your story, photos, or videos to  


Cuts to Education Leave School Computers Vulnerable, Students without Support during Loss of Teacher
School cuts have hurt our elementary school.

First, we lost our computer tech person. Recently, the computers were infected by a virus. Over a dozen computers cannot be used due the virus, and our computer lab has been shut down while we wait for help to be sent out to our school.

Second, a former teacher recently passed away. We don't have a school counselor any more. A counselor from another school came to our school for one day. Many of the children are still upset, but we don't have a counselor on-site; so if the kids want to talk to a counselor about their grief/feelings, there is no counselor on-site.

Terry, Tucson Unified School District

Fourth Grade Classrooms at 35 in Paradise Valley
Thank you for the opportunity to describe how the Arizona education cuts are affecting our children.
My son is in 4th grade in the Paradise Valley School District. At the end of the 2008-2009 school year, there were three 4th grade classes for the 2009-2010 school year, but one week before school started, it was decided that there were not enough children to warrant three classes. There are now two classes with thirty-five students each. This has been a huge concern for many of the parents, but no real solutions have been provided by the school's administration. The teachers are doing the best that they can, but it is difficult to spend quality time with any of the students.
I attended the latest PTSO meeting at our school and at this point, the same situation will be occurring in the 2010-2011 school year. Why is this acceptable? Why does the State of Arizona think so poorly of our children that we are number forty-nine in student spending? These children are the doctors, police officers and teachers of the future. When is someone going to get that?
Thank you for thinking of our kids. They deserve better.
Kelly M., Paradise Valley Parent

Flowing Wells Teacher: Sixty-three Percent Jump in Students and Work; $2000 Drop in Pay
I am a third grade teacher in the Flowing Wells School District. Although the district as a whole does its best to maintain reasonable class sizes, the tax cuts of last year hit us hard. At our school we lost 4 certified positions this year, which resulted in higher class sizes. Last year, my third grade class had 19 students. This year, my class has 31 STUDENTS. That's a 63% increase. My classroom is packed with desks--it's hard to find a way to seat the students effectively and comfortably. If I get even one more student this year, I will have no textbooks for him/her. Supplies are--well, in short supply. If it were not for the generosity of parents and other donors like the Tucson Jewish Federation, I would have run out of paper and other necessary supplies long ago.
And, although I did not get into teaching for the money, it is worth mentioning that I am making $2000 less this year than last because of the decrease in 301 monies. I am also working much more. 63% more students means 63% more papers to grade, and more time spent inputting grades into the computer, conferencing with parents, and planning and preparing for lessons. I am working 10 hour days and then going home and grading papers. I am exhausted and frustrated, and worried about the kids. I know it is going to get worse, and our kids deserve better. 

Middle School Parents: Larger Class Sizes with Less Support Staff, Supervision Having Negative Impact on Student Learning

We're seeing larger class sizes and in our middle school this equates to less support staff, less supervision, more difficulties in the classroom, which impacts their learning. The kids of middle school age are in great need of help I'm finding. They are at a time where testing their limits and and trying to figure out their own selves. The larger class sizes induces more interruptions, less help for kids who need it, and when teachers need to step out of the room for a minute- no supervision and kids act out and sometimes do obscene things with out the teachers in there. Therefore the focus becomes dicipline rather than learning. I'm exasperated by the things we hear from our kids and other parents who's children share their experiences. I want our kids to be in a safe learning environment!!!!!
Keven & Anna M.

Monday, February 22, 2010

AEN's Recent Legislative Update ~ February 19, 2009

Arizona Legislature Punts Decision on Funding for Education, Vital Services to Voters

On Tuesday, May 18, 2010 voters will decide whether to approve a temporary one-cent sales tax in a special election (the sales tax would repeal automatically on July 1, 2013). The revenue, generated over three years, would be apportioned between education and other vital services; two thirds of the proceeds would go toward education and the other third would fund health and human services and public safety.

The Legislature could have chosen to increase revenues rather than put this to voters, but in Arizona a two-thirds majority is required to raise any tax and the votes aren't there, thanks to the 31 legislators who have signed an oath to Washington special interest lobbyist Grover Norquist, promising to never raise taxes in Arizona - no matter what the situation.

Arizona Education Network is involved in a state wide discussion to support passage of the temporary sales tax to fund education. We will update you as soon as we know more.

To learn more see:
Arizona legislature punts decision on funding for education, vital services to voters

AZ Legislature Called into Sixth Special Session **Updated 2/12/10**

Public Education, The AZ Constitution & The No Tax Pledge!

In Budget Deficit, Legislators Want to Send Money to Private Schools

In another blow to fiscal responsibility, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to expand the private school tax credit program, tripling the amount of tax dollars that can be diverted from the general fund to private schools (HB 2664).

Already, $55 million a year is diverted from the general fund to support private schools.

The new limits would be $3,000 for a married couple, instead of $1,000, and $1,500 for an individual, up from $500. Remember that the public school tax credit limit is $400 per couple and $200 for an individual.

Legislators were supposed to be addressing the concerns raised by two separate newspaper investigations in 2009 that found numerous problems with Arizona's private school tax credit program, Rigged Privilege: An Investigation into Arizona's Private School Tuition and The Tuition Tax Credit: Tuition-aid benefits wealthy families, raises worry.

The House Ways and Means Committee also voted to extend the deadline for submitting tax credits to private schools to April 15 from the current Dec. 31 deadline. The tax-credit legislation now moves on to the full House.

To learn more see:
Legislators propose private schools tax credit increases while Governor proposes cutting funding to GED funding

Arizona's Private School Tuition Tax-Credit Program: How We Got Here and Where are We Going?

Researcher: Tax credits cost state millions

Tell Us Your Stories: How are education cuts affecting you?

The Legislature has already cut Arizona public education funding with more cuts expected. We want to know how these cuts are affecting your student, their classroom and your school. Send us your stories, your videos, your view and we will post it on a new section of our website. We will also be featuring individual stories in our newsletter. We want to hear your voice! Click here to send us your story

Take Action NOW!

• Call, write or email members of the House and tell them to vote against legislation expanding the private school tax credit program, go to: Legislator Contacts
• Write a letter to the editor and make your opinion known about state funding of education and/or the proposed expansion of the private school tax credit program.
     o Write a letter to the Arizona Daily Star
     o Write a letter to the Arizona Republic
• Forward this email to five friends, relatives, neighbors or colleagues and ask them to sign up to receive these updates. Education supporters can make a difference, but we must stay informed and take action.

Take care,
Ann-Eve, Melissa, MaryLee and your AEN team

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AEN is a non-partisan, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that exists to provide factual information and advocacy for public education.