Driving home from my student teaching practicum today, I saw this:
And I think the sign that said it best and said it all, was this:
This is a no-brainer, folks. Vote for the 1-cent sales tax increase on May 18. For once, please, help me have a reason to defend Arizona besides the great weather. And full disclosure here: I’ve got a horse in this race (see below for even more ranch metaphors!) Regular readers will recall that after being axed by Gannett with the closure of the Tucson Citizen newspaper, I fell into a three-month fantasy land of trying to make real money as a freelance writer before taking advantage of some career counseling and discovering the only other career that could hold my attention – and to which I might have something to offer – would be teaching.
Ergo, I entered a teacher-preparation program, and am currently in the final two classes and scheduled to began a teacher internship in the fall. If Prop. 100 fails, there will be at least 30 percent fewer teachers to mentor the hundreds (and I do mean hundreds) of student teachers scheduled to do their internships next fall. Without the internships, no teacher certification. And while I hold no fantasies about being employed in this state, the certification will help me get a job in another country until Arizona sees the light of day where education is concerned. (I actually wrote a story about this trend when I was the higher ed reporter at the Citizen: The college-educated leaving Arizona because there are no jobs. I’ve become my own statistic. Sigh.)
All that said, I’ve long wrote in favor of public education funding because I believe in the system (my entire family is a product of public education), and I’d be writing in favor of Prop. 100 even if I wasn’t in the teacher prep program. So, why should you vote for the temporary sales-tax increase? Well, as the dapperly-dressed Hunter said so eloquently, “If all the teachers are gone, who is going to teach us?” He then explained that not only had his teacher taught him all about the respiratory system this year, but also multiplication – which is normally not addressed until late third grade – “Because we are just doing so good in math!” He grin was so large when he said this it made my cheeks hurt. He had a can-you-believe-it look in his eye that was priceless.
So that’s reason #1- Kids don’t educate themselves and a classroom of 40 to 50 students is not one in which anyone is going to learn much of anything; we need the funding to keep the student-teacher ratio in legal limits. Otherwise, you have little more than paid babysitting.
Reason #2 is tied to that: We don’t need any more unemployed workers in this town than we already have. Trust me on this, all you commenters who HAVE jobs and want to hold on to your measly 1 extra penny-per-dollar instead of giving it to the increased sales tax: It is as hot as Hades out here in Laid-Off Land. Heck, you don’t even have to trust me on it; call up any of the 200+ workers Raytheon laid off yesterday.
Reason #3 is safety: If you think we’ve got problems with street-kids and gangs now, just wait until a whole new boatload of them are crammed into overcrowded classrooms. Ditto Reason #4: There’s a connection between a lack of education and criminal activity. You may think that you don’t want the government having any more of your money, but you want the criminal element having it instead? Pay for schools or pay for more prisons – either way, you’re going to pay. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that money will stay with you. Which leads us to …
Reason #5: The Greater Good. Public education is in the Greater Good; the higher a society’s educational attainment, the better off that society is. Sure there are those family-money rich folks who made it on ranches or by the sweat of their brow, but those days are over. Societies rise and fall with technology now and you don’t learn that on a horse surveying the Back Forty. You learn it in a classroom. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. It amazes me how the public always cries for schools to produce more graduates, better educated graduates, deeper thinkers, inventors, etc., and yet the public doesn’t want to provide those classrooms with teachers, or technology or any kind of reasonable support. You want less crime? You want the U.S. to be competing with the rest of the world and kicking their collective fannies? Pony up some money for the public schools.
In the U.S., we ALL share the burden of improving society. You don’t just get to think about yourself here – we’re not the wild, wild West anymore. You need to think about what is the Greater Good. (And I can’t help but adding this since this is technically a God Blog: Don’t even think about wearing the mantle of Christian if you aren’t working for the Greater Good. You can’t pull it off and still read all the words in red. That’s my theory on why Glenn Beck cries so much: it’s hard to justify the nasty things he says with his argument that he’s Christian.)
TUSD recently lost its superintendent, a young woman with great vision and foresight where education – especially in urban areas – is concerned. Why? At least partially because Arizona’s Legislature is tight fisted and there are bunches of voters who seem to think being miserly is the Bright Road to Freedom (protected by your no-permit-needed concealed weapons) for this state. She left because she doesn’t want her children to be raised in an environment with so little regard for education. I’ve told people wanting to move to Arizona the same thing: If you’ve got kids, don’t come here unless you can afford private school. The public schools have lived on shoestrings for years, and the only people who don’t believe that are folks who have never spent any real time – by which I mean a week or more – in a classroom, e.g. some of the blog commenters, many of the right-wing radio hosts, and the majority of the Maricopa County representatives.
Voters have a chance to do something good for once here, and to stick it to the legislators who think that the only answer to hard times is to make them harder. Vote yes on Prop. 100 May 18. It’s one cent on the dollar – and yes, I know, I know, it seems sales tax is too much already – but it is desperately needed. Just ask Hunter Volturo.