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Prop. 123 column was long on rhetoric, short on facts

Kindergarten teacher reading to children in library

Readers last week were treated to Dianne Post’s column opposing Proposition 123 (March 24). It featured arguments long on rhetoric and legal theories outside the mainstream, but it was short on facts.

The conversation deserves a reset.

Proposition 123 is the product of a negotiation between the education community and the state that resolves costly litigation and ensures that new dollars are injected into Arizona’s K-12 public schools. The stakeholders crafted an elegant, fiscally responsible solution that protects the state’s budget without raising taxes.

Glenn Hamer

Glenn Hamer

The money, despite Ms. Post’s claims, is significant. The $3.5 billion over 10 years adds about $300 per student per year. Increased dollars will advance the reforms that have led Arizona to be a leader in closing the achievement gap. A new report from Education Cities reveals that low-income students in Arizona schools are achieving at a level nearly on par with their more advantaged peers. The first-of-its-kind Education Equality Index placed Arizona’s achievement gap among the smallest in the country, ranking us fifth out of the 36 states analyzed.

Ms. Post takes lawmakers to task for the steps they’ve taken to dramatically increase the state’s competitiveness. But because of the Legislature and Gov. Ducey’s work, the state budget is balanced and Arizona has fully recovered the jobs lost in the Great Recession. Now legislative leaders and the governor have sent to voters the opportunity to make a major investment in our education system.

The assets in the state land trust are intended to fund Arizona’s schools. Proposition 123 calls for boosting distributions from the trust in a way that increases spending for our kids in school today and helps keep great teachers in the profession while protecting the trust for future generations.

Passage of Proposition 123 is critical to Arizona’s future. Our governor, legislative leadership, and the education community have done their part in forging this historic settlement. For our kids to reap the benefits, it’s time we do ours.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

4 comments

  1. Sounds like a cheerleader for more tax cuts. Funny how individuals who have received a great education want to keep the current system in the gutter.

  2. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Take more from the trust today and there is less in the trust tomorrow. Once again we have politicians kicking the can down the road because, hey, they won’t be the ones in office when it’s time to pay the piper…

  3. Thank you Glenn Hamer for letting us know that “the conversation deserves a rest” with regards to Prop 123 – but a growing number of people are going to continue with this whole democracy thing and keep debating the issue.

    Further, you failed to address any of the extremely valid points brought forth by Dianne Post’s column. You did this because you have no rebuttal to them.

    And with regards to your education expertise – I suggest reading a bit more. You might like to believe that you can dismiss all the harm done to our kids because of these lawmakers and past-and-present Governors, but a growing number of the public are not fooled.

    You can hold up these “Education Equality Index” scores if you’d like but its methodology is ripe with errors. This is why Education Cities has had to release the following statement, so soon after posting these erroneous scores:

    “Education Cities and GreatSchools have identified limitations in the interpretation of state-level Education Equality Index (EEI) scores. Our goal is to highlight states, cities and schools that are more successfully closing the achievement gap than others. We are confident that school-level and city-level EEI scores are highlighting success stories across the nation, but we have concluded that the state-level EEI scores are not the best way to compare states. Because states’ absolute EEI scores are highly correlated to the percentage of students in the state who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, we have removed the rankings of states based on the EEI score and pace of change pending further review.”

    As the state with the fourth highest rate of children in poverty and one of the most expansive taxpayer-sponsored occurrences of “white flight” in the country, comparing our “achievement gap” with other states is going to be significantly error-prone. If you’d like to brush up more on this issue, check out Professor Baker’s commentary here: https://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/why-you-cant-compare-simple-achievement-gaps-across-states-so-dont/

    As for your praise of the Legislature, cutting off the main sources of revenue for our state and then forcing our kids to pay the price is anything but fiscally sound work. Since 1993, lawmakers have ripped out $4 billion from our General Fund forcing the false assertion that “tough cuts have to be made”. You do not balance budgets on the backs of children – you ensure every child attending school in this state is equipped with all the necessary skills for them to reach their potential.

  4. Where are your facts? I see a lot of rhetoric as well.

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