So, while we’re all torqued up because the Lege keeps screwing education, it seems the back-room politicians can’t help screwing … each other.
According to the Yellow Sheet, that tip sheet for those who can afford to buy it, House Speaker David “Kung Fu” Gowan, a 9th Degree Black Belt, is preparing to do a little Ju Jitsu on freshwoman Congresswoman Martha McSally. Now McSally is a Republican. However … well just read the headline.
Gowan might get a chance to do in Martha because the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is unconstitutional. It seems that it’s designed to keep the Legislature from shaping their own districts, and well … apparently the Constitution says ya just can’t stop the boys in the back room from taking care of themselves.
That’s what the professional tea-leaf readers are saying, at any rate. They expect the Libruhl gals on Da Bench to side with the People, but the nasty old men who control the high court are gonna rule in the favor of their fellow Republicans from the land of cactus and kitty litter.
McSally, a former fighter pilot, has been trying for years to replace Gabrielle Giffords, who was forced to step down after being shot. Her hand-picked replacement was Democrat Ron Barber, a former DES bureaucrat and fellow shooting victim. Giffords was a polished politician, but Barber, not so much. So, in 2014 McSally edged Barber into retirement after a lengthy recount.
Well, apparently McSally’s knuckles don’t drag on the floor enough for the Neanderthals who control AZ politics. So, if the Lege gets to draw new lines for Arizona’s nine Congressional Districts … GUESS WHAT?
McSally will get screwed in a not-so-nice way, politically speaking. She’ll have to choose between running in a bright-red district in which she won’t be
crazy conservative enough to win a primary, or she’ll have to run against Raul Grijalva, the Leftie Dem who is highly beloved by both Latinos and Tucson granola-eaters.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit I’m kinda fond of Raul too. Try not to hold that against him.
Well, wait. Back up for minute. If a new Southeastern Arizona District gets created that’s tailor-made for a Neanderthal, who will crawl out of a cave to run for Congress?
Uh, you DO know that Gowan hails from the military-loving town of Ft. Huachuca down in Cochise County, amiright? How’s that for a coincidence!
No coincidence. It’s just bidness. Ask Andy Tobin, the former speaker who tried to draw up his own district and fell flat on his face. Oh, by the way, Andy: Since you ain’t Speaker no more, and apparently since you won’t win any popularity contests down at the Lege, Gowan’s map screws over your plans to run again too! Yup. Rep Ann Kirkpatrick, D (sorta/kinda), won’t get screwed as badly as some Republicans hope.
It’s just like the headline says. There are thieves, and there are politicians. Very often – maybe more often than not – they’re one and the same.
And since there ain’t no honor among thieves/politicians or any other odious vermin, the new district lines won’t treat McSally like a lady of high morals.
You knew this was coming, didn’t you?
Gov. Cold Stones Ducey offered up a budget would have slashed universities by about $75 million.
He thought the Legislature would buy his BS ice cream sandwich. But he was wrong.
Yep. It appears that a $75 million cut to universities isn’t deep enough.
Let’s cut $102 million!
Community colleges? They get just five percent of their funding from the state. Ducey wanted to cut it to 2.5 percent.
Nope. Screw ‘em completely, especially the ones in the larger counties. Don’t give ‘em a red cent. Yeah. Zero state support. That sounds about right.
K-12? Well, we’ll keep playing shell games with them. Oh, we’ll cut ‘em, but we’ll hide much of the reductions for the moment. Instead of making ‘em swallow a $96 million cut, we’ll make it look like just a $5 million cut.
Oh, but we WILL prevent public schools from operating their own charters, because that would allow them to compete with our pals in for-profit schools, and we’ll eliminate that state subsidy that helps high-cost schools in Tucson and other
commie urban areas reduce the bite on local taxpayers. Oh, and while we’re at it, we’ll make it harder for local school districts to obtain permission to spend a few dollars more by raising local taxes through overrides and bond elections.
Private prisons? Well… Instead of giving them everything they want right away, we’ll just give them only 1,000 beds this year. We’ll come back and add another 2,000 beds – maybe more – next year, when the public ain’t paying attention.
Yeah! That sounds about right to our knuckle-dragging Legislature! Yup! Let’s allow 12-year-olds to blast away at gun ranges. Let’s legalize sawed-off shotguns and silencers! Let’s turn public buildings into free-fire zones!
But spend money on education?
Are you some sorta Libruhl?
What’s that? You don’t like it? Who asked you?
Did you donate dark-money dough to Team Ducey? Did you kiss the ring of the right-wing extremists who set the Legislature’s agenda? Are you one of the 10 percent who actually bothers to vote on legislative races?
No? Then shut up, move to the back of the bus, and figure out how you’ll pay private-school tuition for any school-age kids in your family.
That’s the message being sent to we, the great unwashed, by our so-called elected representatives.
They don’t care what we think, because we don’t matter. We don’t vote, so we have no leverage over the pinheads, clowns and outright thieves who run our Legislature.
Now tomorrow afternoon at about 4:30 p.m., a bunch of pissed-off citizens are supposed to gather down at the Capitol to make some noise. This rally was organized by a couple of well-meaning moms who actually think our Legislature will pay attention to a protest by parents and taxpayers.
They’ve talked to some of the more odious slime-wads in the Lege who are trying to double-talk them into believing that education funding isn’t going to be decimated. Because these moms are reasonable people and new to politics, they actually think these dirt-bags are listening to them.
They’re wrong, of course.
But what the hell? Let’s show up in force tomorrow afternoon. Let our Legislators know that there’s a price to pay when you screw over our kids and deny the next generation the education they need to be happy and productive.
Who knows? Maybe it will have an impact.
After all. I’ve been watching this Legislature for nearly 35 years, hoping that something will change.
Why give up hope now?
While the world waits for Congressional Republicans to find a way out of the Homeland Security Funding mess, let’s take a look at the budget situation right here in the land of cactus and kitty litter.
I think there are signs that even our head-up-their-Keister Legislature is smelling something, and it ain’t coffee: It’s molten tar, bundles of feathers, and hordes of angry villagers who believe AZ ought to spend more money on education, not prisons.
Not too long ago, 233 school administrators rustled up enough gumption to stand up and complain about a state budget that – yet again – reduces funding for education. Despite the Tooth Fairy Math that our Cold Stones governor continues to use, he’s forcing schools to hack away at funding for heating and cooling, school buses, libararies and school lunch programs.
Da Guv keeps blithering that he’s just forcing schools to transfer more money to classrooms, but we, the AZ citizens, don’t find the math to be that hard. If Ducey tells schools to cut non-classroom spending by 5 percent, and your average school district spends 7 to 10 percent on administration, the money will come out of stuff that keep students warm in the winter, cool in the heat, and ensures they’ll get at least one decent meal a day.
If you don’t think that message has been delivered, ask yourself why the dark dough forces of evil are trying to push back with robocalls and other
While you’re at it, ask yourself why such a big crowd showed up at the Capital earlier this week to protest education cuts. By the way, there will be more such demonstrations next week. Stay tuned.
And now comes ASU Prez Michael Crow, sending out an email that blisters Gov. Cold Stones for sending “signals to the state and the nation that higher education is a low priority in Arizona.” He got to be the head of a major university because he is a skilled nose-counter and a savvy leader. He wouldn’t have sent out that email if he didn’t check with the boys and girls in the back room first. The fact that they signed off on his complaint is clear evidence that the business elite don’t like these budget cuts any more than your average parent of school-age kids.
And then there was one of my personal favorite messages, this from from Mark Killian, a member of the Board of Regents and a former Speaker of the House. Mark ain’t no liberal. I can still remember him getting all teary-eyed when the House voted to impeach former Gov. Ev Mecham.
Killian was OK with semi-reasonable education cuts when he was in the Lege, so when even he says that higher education cuts violate that pesky clause in the State Constitution – the one that says an Arizona university education must be “nearly as free as possible” – well, it’s time to pay attention.
Now the Regents are on record. They ain’t gonna raise tuition.
But there are other ways to boost costs that haven’t been ruled out. We’re talking “lab fees,” and cuts in financial aid, to name just two ways that can keep that promise while still raising the cost of a college degree.
Now let’s not get carried away here. It’s clear that the will of the average Arizonan doesn’t matter to the Legislature. That’s why they keep trying to repeal voter-mandates establishing the Clean Elections System, making it harder to vote, and they’re trying to re-legalize payday loans that charge triple-digit interest rates – even though voters banned them just a few years ago.
That’s because too many serfs don’t vote. The Lege can screw them over without paying a price, since the right-wing wing nuts who control Republican primaries have a very different agenda.
But when the ruling class gives a green light to K-12 schools and universities to stand up and hollar out loud about education cuts, something is going on.
Word down at the Capital is that the budget continues to move through the legislative digestive system and will soon be dumped on our heads. But ya gotta wonder: what are our legislators saying behind closed doors?
Will they REALLY stand up and support a budget that increases class sizes, defunds libraries and school lunches, and makes it even costlier to get a college degree?
I guess we’ll see. I think the aroma of burning tar and singed feathers is wafting up to the noses of our Klown Kar Legislature. I won’t be surprised if we soon hear noise about a revolt against those education cuts.
I’m still fuming over efforts by Gov. Cold Stones and his lackies to sell us BS while telling us it’s chocolate ice cream.
An article in the Tuesday Arizona Republic reports that the Dark Dough dirtbags ain’t backing down. They’ll keep making robocalls. They’ll try to convince people that public schools waste our tax dollars.
They’re telling a big lie. They’re saying that less than half of education spending actually reaches the classroom. Most of the rest is “wasted” on such useless frills as heating and cooling, school buses, student assistance and libraries.
Of course they leave out that stuff about school lunches, school buses and student assistance spending. That would only confuse people. We can’t handle the truth, apparently.
The calls are being engineered by Mr. Sean Not-So-Noble, paid shill of the Koch evil empire and Gov. Cold Stone’s personal Rasputin. Mr. (Ig)Noble says he’s just exercising a First Amendment right to bury truth under a blanket of fertilizer.
“Having a discussion about important policy is now political intimidation?” Mr. (Ig)Noble told the Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (presumably with a straight face). “Do school districts actually spend enough (money) in the classroom?” Noble asked. “I think not.”
Now Wingett Sanchez is a diligent reporter, someone who is willing to go elbows deep into the muck to dig out the truth.
But she failed on this mission. Instead of trying to ferret out the truth, she dutifully did a point-counterpoint.
Mr. (Ig)Noble got to spew his lies. A spokeswoman for Mesa Schools was allowed to issue a tepid statement noting that “critical support services for our students and teachers in the classroom will be diminished” if the Cold Stones budget takes effect. A seemingly neutral “expert” from ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy dismissed the whole thing as business as usual. “They (Noble and the Koch evil empire) put him in office and they want him to look good,” said David Berman, author of a paper on dark money.
Where does that leave the hapless readers? Well, they can only conclude that some people say it’s a good thing. Some say it’s a bad thing. And an expert says it’s just the way things work.
Uh, how about a little digging?
As I noted earlier this week, the facts are just a hyperlink away. Noble and Gov. Cold Stones say the school bureaucrats fritter away our tax dollars instead of putting them into the classroom. Yet an Arizona Auditor General’s report says that Mesa spends just seven percent of its budget on administration.
Read that again, please.
- Mr. (Ig)Noble’s anti-education robocall says that “nearly two-thirds of Mesa’s education dollars never reach the classroom.”
- The auditor General says this excludes spending on programs that helps students, feeds students, and buses them to school every day.
- The actual cost of overhead in Mesa Schools is seven percent, not the 66 percent alleged by Mr. (Ig)Noble.
As a result, some of the sewage being spewed by Mr. (Ig)Noble is sticking to its victim. According to Mesa’s spokeswoman, the district received 15 messages in response to those rorocalls
Nine of them supported the district. Five callers buy into the roboball BS. One caller couldn’t figure out who was right.
In other words, about one out of three callers couldn’t figure out that the robocalls were unadulterated bullshit.
I don’t blame the callers. At least they cared enough to listen. Most readers of the morning paper simply shrugged their shoulders and finished their breakfast.
Now I get it. I really do. Reporting is hard. Digging through the dirt is difficult, and all it gets is calls to your editor complaining about your “bias.”
But that’s the media’s job. Or at least it used to be.
In these days of money-losing journalism and newsroom budget cuts, it’s easier to “report both sides, and let the reader decide.”
The media are forced by dwindling resources to transcribe clashing talking points.
Or as Chuck Todd, the worthless windbag who hosts NBC’s Meet Da Press likes to say, it’s not his job to sort out the truth.
Well, whose job is it? And how does an informed citizen decide?
I guess that’s just another unanswered question
Since this is Arizona, no legislative session can be complete until the Lege throws a bloody bone to their ideological masters at the Center for Arizona Policy. That’s the all-powerful pack of “pro-family” polemicists run by Kathy Herrod.
Their stated goal, from CAP’s very own website:
The sanctity of human life should be protected from its very beginning to it’s natural end.
In other words, any abortion is one too many. Every pregnancy is a gift from God. Throwing away such a sacred gift ain’t just a sin. It’s a crime, a case of genocide.
So I guess CAP wants to eliminate abortions. All of them. No exceptions for rape or incest. Exceptions tisane a mom’s life? Hmmm. Tough one.
To achieve its goal of ending abortion, CAP has gotten its Lege lap-dogs to apply an ever-tightening clamp on a woman’s legal right to make this heart-rending decision. Yup, the forces of less gummint can’t interfere enough when a woman consults with her family, and her doctor, on this toughest of tough decisions.
The lege has ordered doctors to make a woman hear a fetal heartbeat. They’ve demanded that girls be lectured before they can terminate. Doctors who insist on providing this sinful procedure have been badgered and bullied. Organizations like Planned Parenthood (Booooo!) have been demonized and forced to comply with rules that make it nearly impossible to provide access to this procedure.
You’d think by now that they’ve run out of new restrictions. Silly hippy! This year’s clamp on abortion rights: Health insurance programs, especially those funded by that evil Kenyan-style Obamacare, must be prohibited from covering the cost of an abortion!
There. That’ll bring the abortion rate down nearly to Zero!
Uh, Not really.
See the chart above.
Now let’s be accurate as well as fair here, my fellow hippies. The AZ abortion rate has plummeted from nearly 23 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 here to just about 12.7. That’s a 53 percent drop! Not too shabby if you’re heck-bent on eliminating the procedure!
What’s that? CAP’s jihad on choice has nothing to do with this drop?
Well, the national abortion rate has fallen even faster, from 26.3 per 1,000 reproductive-age women to 16.9. That’s down 62 percent.
Chew on that for a second. Abortion rates in the nation as a whole have dropped further and faster than here in pro-life AZ. Fifty three percent vs. 62 percent.
So; if the CAP’s draconian war on choice is supposed to be making abortions go away, it just ain’t working!
Well, why the heck not?
The answer may lie in teen pregnancy rates.
Take a gander:
As it shows, Arizona ranks third nationally in teen pregnancy rates. Now our all-knowing Lege has funded – and mandated – high school programs designed to get teens to keep an asprin between their knees. Pledge to your sweet loving daddy that you’ll save it for marriage!
Just don’t provide any accurate information about reproduction and/or successful contraception. Information like that would just encourage them raging adolescent hormones!
Ignorance is bliss!
Uh, Nope. Sees that doesn’t work. either. Otherwise we would have so many teens killing da rabbit.
In other words, maybe if the Lege spent more time trying to figure out how to keep teenagers from getting pregnant … maybe by, oh, I dunno … MAKING IT EASIER TO OBTAIN CONTRACEPTION .. we might have fewer teen parents, and maybe even fewer abortions.
Nah! That’s heathen talk, amiright?
When you’re selling a lie, don’t back down. Just keep saying it as loudly and as frequently as you can. If you’re a skilled liar, or if you just use the biggest megaphone money can buy, it just might stick.
Gov. Doug Cold Stones Ducey and his dark dough dirtbags are skilled liars – and they have the resources they need. The Koch evil empire ships money to Arizona by the trainload. That allows the Duceyites to buy megaphones at wholesale rates.
Take education. Gov. Cold Stones keeps saying he’s increasing education funding. Never mind that it ain’t true. Ignore the fact that fewer dollars will be going into education under next year’s Cold Stones state budget.
Last week 233 school superintendents around the state sent out parent letters in an effort to point out the truth: Ducey’s budget will cut $113 million from education. That’s on top of massive cuts already in place that have put Arizona near the very bottom in terms of per capita student spending.
Now the Duce’s dirtbags are answering back with an under-the-radar robocall campaign. They’re trying to sell a flat-out lie.
The bullshit is being spread by Sean Noble’s Conservative Encore, one of the many Koch tentacles that is strangling the middle class and is trying to re-establish the 19th Century Robber Baron class.
If you believe the media, the calls so far have targeted just the Mesa Unified School District’s Michael Cowan.
But remember that Cowan is just one of 233 Arizona school superintendents trying to turn this tidal wave of sludge. The anti-Cowan robocall managed to find its way to the media because it targets an area where journalists live. if you think the other 232 superintendents won’t face this same counterattack, you just ain’t paying attention.
The lie is that Mesa School district “spends nearly half its entire budget outside the classroom.” Mr. Not-so-Noble’s website also alleges that “nearly two-thirds of Mesa’s education dollars never reach the classroom. This is a major departure from national standards and is unacceptable for Arizona students.”
Now this is total, unadulterated bullshit. They’re telling you it’s chocolate ice cream, but don’t let the color fool ya.
You’re calling our Governor and his fine public servants a bunch of liars? Them’s strong words. Prove it, ya hoary old hippy reprobate!
I refer you to an Arizona Auditor General’s Report on the Mesa district. Among the expenses that “never reach the classroom” are the following:
- Plant Operations consume 10.8 percent of their budget. That’s heating, air conditioning, electricity. That stuff “never reaches the classroom?” They don’t heat or cool classrooms?
- Transportation consumes 6.2 percent. That’s school buses and some maintenance vehicles. I guess they actually don’t reach the classrooms . They just transport kiddos to and from the classrooms.
- Instruction support: 6.9 percent. Student support: 6.5 percent. These are programs to help kids who are struggling, those who excel, and those who have a special talent, such as art or music, to nurture those skills.
- Food Service: Lunches and stuff eat up 5.4 percent. That’s money that reaches student bellies, I guess those stomachs are not “reaching the classroom.”
So. When they tell you money ain’t going to classrooms, that’s what they mean.
Now some may say that ain’t a lie. It’s just a distortion.
No. It’s flat-out bullshit intended to make it sound like money is being wasted on red tape and fancy salaries for administrators. I mean, ya know that Cowan Superintendent makes a decent buck, right?
Yeah. He makes about $198,000.
But Mesa is the largest school district in the state. Its overall administrative spending is 7.9 percent. That’s all administrative staff, from the superintendent down to assistant principles.
It comes to about $611 per pupil. How does that compare?
Well, the statewide average for administrative spending is $640 per pupil. The nationwide average is $1,138. In other words Mesa administrative costs are below the statewide average, AND that’s about HALF the national average. Look at the Auditor General’s report. See it for yourself.
So when you hear Ducey and his fellow dirtbags allege that money is being “wasted” on non-classroom spending, don’t swallow it. And when you hear that about 50 cents out of every school dollar doesn’t reach the classroom, don’t eat that stuff either. It comes from that feedlot where the bulls go to the bathroom.
It’s a lie. It’s a deep carpet of bullshit speed on the face of reality to sell you on efforts to starve public schools to death.
It’s more than shameful. It’s a flat-out assault on the education system that has made our country rich, and created a solid middle class.
You bought Sean Noble’s bullshit when you elected Ducey. Don’t buy it when it comes to school funding.
Being a veteran journalist, Laurie Roberts just can’t resist the fun of grabbing some popcorn and savoring the Ducey-Douglas Tempest in a Teabag.
Since she’s also smarter than the average mama grizzly, however, Laurie also connects some of the dots.
Just like all Journalists, Laurie can’t resist a good pissing match. Da media continue to watch gleefully as our Cold Stones Governor and our Tin Foil Superintendent of Public Instruction trade cream pie barrages.
And they pretend that this feud is important, when in fact it’s just another termite mound on a compost heap.
So let’s review today’s turn of the screwballs. Two Board of Education staff, who arguably don’t work for the Superintendent, were scheduled to return to work today, even though Diane Douglas tried to fire them.
Douglas let them in the building today, but she also set ground rules: Tell her what their daily schedule is. Don’t talk to her staff without permission. Let her know when they clock in, clock out, when they go to lunch – and probably when they go potty.
Laurie and I were both around in the Halcyon Days when Arizona’s infamous goofball Governor was Ev Mecham. He covered his window with tin foil, said nice things about pickanninies, and told journalists “Don’t ever ask me for a true statement again.”
Sigh. Those were the days.
But Laurie also knows that in the grand scheme of things, the Ducey-Douglas feud is just another circus side-show. I prefer “Tempest in a Tea Bag.”
The real issue is our schools, and how our Cold Stones Governor and our pro-ignorance Legislature are doing everything they can to drain them of money.
The good news: These guys are dumber than the average cauliflower.
The bad news: They’re following the instructions of some smart-but-soulless people who do the bidding of the Koch Brothers and their shell organizations, including the Republican Governor’s Association and ALEC.
As Laurie notes in her latest column:
Public schools are being underfunded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars while Ducey and the Arizona Legislature press ahead with the state’s latest round of tax cuts.
Yup. The Cold Stones state Budget, which is slipping through the Lege like Ex-Lax through a goose, cuts K-12 funding by Public schools by $13.5 million. Universities will lose at least $75 million, though the GOP Neanderthals think that’s not anti-knowledge enough. (Talk about the Know Nothing Party).
Oh, and the legislation we all knew was coming is finally crawling out from under its rock. Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-sold her soul to the Kochs, is pushing SB1434.
It would greatly expand access to Vouchers, which is just another way of taking money out of the pockets of state taxpayers and giving it to parents who want to send their kids to a private school.
As Laurie notes in a different column:
Currently, just over 1,200 students have ESAs, at a cost to the state of about $16.2 million, according to the state Department of Education. But under state law, as many as 15,000 students could set up ESAs, growing by an additional 5,500 a year until 2019, when the cap expires.are being underfunded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars while Ducey and the Arizona Legislature press ahead with the state’s latest round of tax cuts.
Now Laurie poses an obvious question: Who in the hell elected these idiots?
Uh, that would be me and you. Now I could truthfully note that I didn’t vote for any pro-voucher candidates. I think. My primary legislator is Rep. Eric Meyer, D-rational human. Beyond him I voted for a Dem. for the State Senate. She’s a nice lady who never stood a chance. I didn’t pick a second House candidate, because I believe in the Single Shot strategy.
I gotta try to ‘splain that strategy one of the days.
But nonetheless, we, the collective known as AZ voters, elected a Klown Kar steered by Ducey stooges.
And they are hell-bent on destroying public schools.
Maybe Arizona voters will figure that out one of these days.
But I’ve grown old waiting for Godot, so I ain’t holding my breath.
I keep trying – and failing – to give a diarrhea dump about the Ducey-Douglas feud.
I mean I understand why da media scum are so enthralled. Journalists feed on controversy the way buzzards feed on road-kill. That’s why they pounced so hungrily on the fight over who gets to fire a couple of bureaucrats who work for the state Board of Education.
Now if I were one of these two bureaucrats, members of their family or maybe even one of their colleagues, I might give a damn. Other than that … can anyone tell me what the state Board of Education actually does?
No? I can’t either, and I’m a hopeless political junkie who prides himself on understanding bureaucratic minutia.
So countless trees give up their lives, and many television ads for cars, “ask-your-doctor-about-it” drugs and the furniture deal of the century are wrapped around breathless reports about what Douglas said about our Cold Stones Governor, or what the Duce and his minions had to say about the power of the Schools Superintendent to hire and fire people.
Will any of this plug the massive sink hole that is sucking money out of our K-12 schools or our community colleges or universities?
Will it impact the brain drain of teachers who flee their profession?
Will it help our youngest adults and kiddos develop skills needed to earn a decent living or bring decent-paying jobs to this land of Cactus, kitty litter and rock?
Uh, that would be a no.
So really. Who cares? What does it matter?
It doesn’t. But it’s a lot easier to rewrite dueling press releases than it is to delve into the dire need to fund education.
So expect to read more about Ducey and Douglas hurling chocolate ice cream at each other. It sure beats reporting on issues that really matter to people.
Let’s not talk about a “war on women…”
… or an “envy budget …”
… or faux outrage because Obama noted that ALL religious faiths have bloody hands …
Let’s talk about the war on intelligence, the campaign to gut all education funding.
You see it everywhere in my beloved Arizona:
- The Gov. Cold Stones budget forces schools to cut funding for special programs, heating/cooling and libraries – and he uses pretzel logic to contend he’s “increasing” education funding.
- He wants to cut another $70 million from university funding, bringing the total cuts to universities since 2009 to nearly a half-billion bucks.
- If the universities are lucky, that’s all that will be cut. According to today’s Arizona Republic the Board of Regents is pleading with the lege not to cut any deeper. Lege leaders ain’t making such a commitment.
- Da Prez proposes universal access to free community colleges, based on the ridiculous principle that just about any decent job requires technical skills or some additional training. The GOPers throw rotten fruit.
- Speaking of AZ community colleges, their support from the state has all but evaporated. It’s down to 2.5 percent. They’ll come back for the remaining crumbs in the near future.
- We’re only starting to see legislative efforts this session to increase transfers of state tax dollars to private schools. It’s a little early to predict what will pass, but make no mistake. For-profit education will get more money, and it will come at the expense of public school districts.
- Given all these assaults, the only avenue open to school districts are bond issues and so-called “overrides,” in which school districts must convince voters to raise their own taxes or watch local schools starve to death. Two bills, SB1172 and SB1173, have been introduced by Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Private prisons yes/schools no. Both make it harder to pass school bonds or overrides.
Need I go on? I mean I can, but seriously …
Now, a cynical SOB like myself would love to argue that by making people stoopid, GOPers are plotting to increase their voting base.
With great difficulty, I’ll resist that temptation.
Taken at face value, Republicans think any gummint spending is wasteful. That’s why they keep repeating the misleading number that about half of our tax dollars actually reach classrooms. Most of the remainder goes to counseling, libraries physical plant, school buses, etc. In fact private school spend twice as much on administrative overhead compared with public schools.
Nonetheless, the impact remains the same. The public education system that literally turned this nation into a world power, both economically and militarily, is under assault.
We’ve got to fight back. Make them stop the war on intelligence.
I worked for the state of Arizona for about 15 years – 12 of them with agencies that dealt with damaged kids.
I’m thinking about this as I read about a lawsuit accusing the state of Arizona of failing to provide sufficient care to foster kids. The lawsuit raises valid points. The foster-care system is fraught with problems.
These children deserve better.
Before we judge, however, let’s take a look at the foster care merry-go-round.
1. That old chestnut from the Clinton years is correct. It takes a village to raise children. The village idiots, drug addicts and mentally challenged still give birth. When they can’t care for their offspring, someone must step in.
2. Deciding how to handle these kids is tough. Solomon-like decisions must be made. Is it best to get children out of potentially dangerous situations? Leave the kids in a home fraught with risks? Try to find help for a family in crisis? Find a close relative – a grandparent, uncle, aunt or adult sibling – to take in the children of villagers in crisis?
3. No matter how you choose, it’s a crap shoot. Someone will criticize you. Take a kid out of a home, and you’re at fault for breaking up a family. Leave them in the home, and then they could be abused, hurt – or even killed. It’s all your fault. Leave them in the hands of a close relative. It might turn out that the grandparent, aunt or adult siblings have similar problems. If kids gets hurt, it’s all your fault.
4. Damaged homes create damaged kids. No matter what anyone does, children in crisis accumulate deep wounds. Some wounds heal. Many won’t. All of them shape behavior for a lifetime.
5. Foster families are always in short supply. Taking in a damaged child is an all-consuming task. Damaged children lie, steal, throw tantrums, or try to harm other children in every way imaginable. They may need medication. They almost certainly need counseling. They will take out their frustrations and inflict pain on the people who take them in.
6. Helping a damaged child is more rewarding than anyone can imagine. It wasn’t part of my job description, but I loved to work one-on-one with kids who liked to write. They’d produce deep, insightful short stories, or poetry in the form of rap. They produce beautiful art. I treasure one photo drawn for my by a teenaged girl. As she drew that picture she told me she was going to take her own life. There was nothing anyone could do about it. We kept her alive anyway.
7. Society can never do enough to help these kids. They are a bottomless pit of need. Instead of trying to give them something, however, we sometimes give them nothing.
8. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some are better off if they stay with their parents, and the family receives help. Some are best served if they are removed and placed with foster parents. Some have acute needs that can only be addressed in group-home settings. The tough part is making the correct choice. And you’ll never know if you were right or wrong.
9. Many kids will not be saved. The damage may be too deep. Their formative years were spent in situations where drugs, poverty, despair, criminal activity and cruelty were the norm. They learn wrong lessons that last a lifetime. They go to prison. They use drugs and commit crime. They become abusive parents.
10. Many kids are saved. I met foster kids who earned scholarships, went to college, became artists, musicians, physicians or social workers. I’ve seen damaged people work desperately to spare their own children from the same pain and suffering. I’ve seen stunted childhoods yield beautiful human beings. We need to save more kids.
11. Foster parents are saints. Some of the best can only be described as eccentric. Since they don’t fit all of society’s norms they relate well to the struggles of the kids they take in. In general, some of the best are gay people, those recovering from various addictions, people who love comics, cosplay, science fiction, chess or sports. These passions help children overcome the ghosts that haunt them.
12. Some may think I’m arguing that this is an impossible task. Wrong. We can do better, and save more kids.
We MUST do better.