Local teacher and progressive, Derek Born, has this almost right. What he says about Ducey’s fake support for education is spot on.
But, it’s not enough to just subtract our votes from Ducey’s column. We have to add votes for the Democrat who opposes him — or Ducey will win again. It’s critical that people who support education get out and vote in November. Register Now!
Governor Ducey, I want to thank you today for teaching us so much about subtraction. Now, I may be an English teacher myself, but I had the privilege of being
taught arithmetic in Arizona public schools back in the ’80s, well before the Great Subtraction began in this state. And your complete failure to even consider the earnest demands of rank and file educators and support professionals in the #REDforED movement ensures a subtraction of votes from your column this November.
Don’t get me wrong, you talk a good game when it comes to addition. From watching those million-dollar ads put on by your billionaire backers, one would think Arizona was an education utopia. But all of the addition you and your buddies crow about is just subtraction by subterfuge.
Let’s take Prop 123, where you subtracted money from the state’s permanent land trust — already earmarked for education — to artificially pump up the present at the expense of the future. Even in so doing, you only restored a portion of what the Legislature illegally stole from public schools in the first place.
Or how about the $100 million in capital funding you propose to restore next year? Those of us with memories reaching back to your first year in office will recall that you personally signed a budget in 2015 that cut $116 million from the very same fund. Of course, this crippling cut was just one in a long line, leaving schools with a meager fraction of what we need to support our students. It doesn’t take a mathlete to calculate that your actions have already subtracted hundreds of millions of capital across three school years. Meanwhile, your “restoration” doesn’t even bother to balance the ledger.
These are just two examples in a stunning sequence of debilitating losses to our students, schools, and staff. The evidence of subtraction is everywhere, except in your slick marketing campaigns. I see it when I look at the thousands of unfilled teaching positions statewide and the thousands of others filled by unqualified or underqualified staff. I see it when I read that we are still a whopping billion dollars shy of 2008 education funding levels. I see it in the defeated faces of so many of the best and brightest educators I’ve had the privilege to work alongside, when they finally throw in the towel and subtract themselves from this state’s workforce in search of wages that equate to their education level and expertise.
You claim, sir, to have a “sense of urgency” around education funding, but the only urgency I see is to the seductive logic of perpetual tax cuts — a special kind of subtraction that just happens to have highly additive effects in the pocketbooks of your corporate cronies and wealthy donors. My allegiance is of a different sort, and it’s to outstanding public schools for every single Arizona student, staffed with highly qualified professionals paid wages sufficient to attract the best talent.
I do hope you are boning up on your basic math, Governor. Because the tens of thousands of professional educators in this state have far more to teach you about subtraction than you can imagine. Once you subtract our votes and the votes of our friends and families, you’ll find that the difference will be who sits in your chair: a real “education governor.”
Derek Born teaches English at Coconino High School and is the president of the Flagstaff Education Association