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Standing for children in Arizona for more than a decade

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Recently, Eileen Klein claimed that Invest in Ed had been organized by a narrow set of special interests outside of Arizona and called out my organization as a “commander of Invest in Ed” from Oregon. Her attack on Stand for Children Arizona is outrageous given the fact Stand for Children Arizona was at the campaign table with Gov. Jan Brewer, and Ms. Klein herself, during the spring of 2010 to help pass Prop. 100 – a 1-cent, temporary sales tax for education. Also at that table working to pass Prop. 100 were many other highly respected Arizona education organizations that she now attempts to label as “special interests.” The irony in Ms. Klein’s attack is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

At the request of Governor Brewer, Stand for Children Arizona, the Arizona Education Association, and many other organizations gave hundreds of thousands of dollars, organized our members, gave testimonials and did what the Prop. 100 campaign asked of us to help pass the measure – which was billed as “a needed temporary bridge in education funding.” Unfortunately, this bridge, as Senator John McCain coined, was to nowhere.

Rebecca Gau

Rebecca Gau

That is why a broad-based coalition of Arizona organizations collectively representing hundreds of thousands Arizona educators, parents, and people of faith created the Invest in Education Initiative to help students and increase school funding while not taxing working and middle-class families. Arizona’s 1.1 million K-12 students, Arizona’s 55,000 teachers, and Arizona’s economy will all benefit when Arizona voters pass Invest in Ed this November.

Stand for Children Arizona’s staff of seven, as well as our 2,000 parent volunteers, and 18,000 supporters are championing the Invest in Education Initiative because politicians have consistently failed to address our state’s acute school funding and teacher shortage crisis.

Opponents of the Invest in Education Initiative have had 10 years to provide solutions. Instead of admitting they have failed and supporting an initiative that will put qualified teachers in every Arizona classroom, they are doing everything possible to prevent voters from being able to decide and smearing organizations dedicated to Arizona’s children, teachers and families. Their tactics, like that of Ms. Klein’s, are a clear indication they cannot win on the facts, which are these:

  • It restores hundreds of millions of dollars annually in K-12 education funding to solve the teacher-shortage crisis, lower class sizes, hire aides and counselors, and expand career and technical education.
  • It ensures accountability. By law, these dollars must be spent where they’re needed most – on teachers, counselors, aides, support services and career and technical education.
  • It assesses a small income-tax surcharge on only the highest, 1% of earners. The remaining 99% of Arizona taxpayers won’t pay a cent more.

As a result, students get quality teachers and support staff, and those teachers and support staff will finally receive living wages – money that goes right back into Arizona’s economy. This sounds like a solid plan to us, one that the business community should get behind.

Rebecca Gau is executive director at Stand for Children Arizona. Previously she was director of the Governor’s Office of Education Innovation under Gov. Jan Brewer.

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