Saturday, June 24, 2017

Classroom Spending, Taxes, and Hot Air

"Schools across the nation spent over 60 percent of day-to-day expenditures on classroom instruction in fiscal year 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Public Education Finances: 2015 report . . . .  Per student spending increased for every state, with Alaska and California having the highest percentage increase (9.5 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively), except for Arizona (decreased 0.5 percent)."  From https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2017/cb17-97-public-education-finance.html.

And now a short rant . . . .

Do you think our schools should improve, that they need additional funding, or that your children deserve a free and high quality education?  If yes, then consider putting your money where your mouth is--or, better yet, rolling up your sleeves.  (If no, please email me--I would love to debate! LOL)

It is not enough to vote for taxes that support our public schools.  It is not enough to have an opinion (much less adopt other's opinions), or bark orders at the people actually doing the work.  We need to stop complaining about the things we fear we cannot control and have faith in the knowledge that we can improve, we can improve people's lives and, in turn, our entire community.  Education is the answer.  But we have to stop complaining and start developing strategies; we must test the strategies, gauge their success, and then make changes based on what we learned about them.

To do that, we must stop focusing on each other and start focusing on the issues.  The partisan political thing is so old and so boring, so not creative or helpful.  And most of the time the 30-second soundbite that got us so angry about that thing we don't really understand had little (or nothing) to do with history, with reality; the soundbite reflects one person's hopes, dreams, and fears, their notions of what people want to hear.  The focus is on sales.  But it is bad for our community when few know the true facts.  And, of course, the die-hards who will continue to wage war, no matter what, in the name of their political parties have only made things worse.

Besides, it is way too hot in Arizona for people to keep filling up the city with more hot air!  ;p  (I hope you do not consider this to be more of that hot air LOL)

Arizona citizens need to stop yelling; we must establish taxing and spending systems that work more effectively than the ones in place.  We have to watch our community leaders, make sure that they are not permitted to make choices that benefit them as individuals at the expense of our community (while the yellers are misdirecting our attentions).  For example, City of Tucson employees are psyched they do not have to pay higher health insurance premiums next year, but the Tucson citizens will foot the tax bill.  So it is wonderful to work for the city of Tucson, but it is not wonderful to live in the city of Tucson.  Ok.  Who does that serve?  Perhaps the leader who got to make the happy announcement to the employees.  After all, it's a wash for the employees who live in Tucson who do not have to pay higher premiums, but who do have to watch their tax money go away from the roads and the schools.  I  guess it is great for those who commute from places like Marana and Oro Valley, Sahuarita.

How do we spend our money more efficiently?  No one seems to mention that our spending logic is deeply flawed.  Our retirement system needs revamping (which could help us pay higher teacher salaries, by the way).  Eliminating the corporate income tax will probably not help us to achieve that goal, unless we first improve our roads and infrastructure and enhance our schools' reputations to garner corporate interest in Arizona in the first place.

But then, we should probably not do everything in our political power to woo a company like Caterpillar to Pima County and then call on Tucson citizens to boycott that company because the company operates under an economic reality that requires the corporation to make as much profit as it can--by law.  (Ever been without a job when you needed one?  Sucked, right?)  It is wrong to call on people to boycott a company that takes a job it needs (and, by so doing, creates jobs for the rest of us).  Calling for such a boycott does not sound like the act or the idea of a public servant to me; it sounds like the brainchild of someone who wants to get re-elected by relying on the ignorance and fears of the crowd, even if it brings down the quality of life for the majority.  History repeats itself unless we stop it.

To make the changes we need to make in Arizona, we need to do more than react, opine, or call for change; we have to get involved.  Personally.  We can call a representative or, better yet, run for office; we can read research articles and develop first-hand experience with the things we do not understand; we can get together with family and friends to articulate strategies for doing more with less, write them down, and share them with community leaders.  We can help.

As for TUSD . . . .

We must spend at least 50% in the classroom (and I think we should spend 75% in the classroom by 2025).  I will not stop trying, so I know it is only a matter of time before we get the support we need.  There are two board members in favor right now.  You are welcome to call or write (particularly those who voted against spending 50% in the classroom) to let us know whether you agree about the 50% (or the 75%).

Also,  how do you think we can make it happen?  Have you looked at the budget?  Where do you think we can make cuts?  How do you think those cuts will affect people, and is it worth it?

Of course, money is not a magic bullet.  Let us keep in mind that D.C. led the nation in spending in the classroom in 2015, yet their public schools have been called the worst in the nation, so money is clearly not the whole answer.  It helps though--the teachers and students whose summer classes were cancelled due to malfunctioning (outdated) air conditioning systems this past week would probably agree.

And now I am off to meet interested citizens at La Cocina (at noon).  I look forward to hearing about their ideas.  Maybe I will see you there :)

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