Sunday, May 9, 2010

Prop 100

I've been thinking about Prop 100 a lot lately. With the election coming up on the 18th of May I find myself being torn by this one. As a former educator, having been raised by two educators who still teach and with a sister in education I feel I have some extensive background on education. I understand the importance of good teachers and the funding that is needed to make things happen, but here's where it gets hard for me. I don't believe raising taxes is the best way to fix problems. To me it is like giving a person a fish. It puts a bandade on the problem and doesn't truly fix it, whereas if you teach a person to fish you've taught them how to feed themselves for a lifetime. In my opinion, the government flat out needs to stop spending money they don't have. How many of us have had to live on a tight budget? How many of us have gone without because we didn't have the money. Why should it be any different with the government.

Now, with that out of the way, here's what I know is going to happen to teachers next year. This is for sure, even if Prop 100 passes. My dad is in for a 5% paycut and with him so close to retirement, that intern effects his retirement plan. However, if Prop 100 doesn't pass it will become an 8% paycut plus having to work for 3 or 4 days with no pay.

My mom, who teaches kindergarten for a different district, will have no aide in her classroom. That may not seem like a big deal to any of you who have never taught kindergarten, but let me tell you that if the government expects to increase class sizes--which it does--and take away the aides in kindergarten--which it does--it becomes near to impossible to teach 25-30 kindergarteners. It turns into strictly classroom management, i.e. keeping the kids from hurting each other. Teaching won't happen as well and all the testing and monitoring that is expected can't really happen without running the risk of kids hurting each other. Let me just say, you try to keep 25-30 5-year-olds occupied for the entire school day with no help.

I've been there. I taught a year without an aide and had 25 kids and let me just say how difficult it was. In order to get done what was expected of me, I had to basically get the class busy on a project, hope they stay on task while I tried to test one kid at a time. Not a pretty sight. Anyway, at the moment I can't remember for sure if there will be a paycut for my mom or not, but my money says that there is one coming. It's not a pretty sight.

The expectations for teachers will not change, yet their resources and their ability to do their job is being reduced. It's not fair to them and in turn not fair to the kids. We won't see the results of this immediately (other than those who are directly involved with education) but image ten years down the road when kids who's education has been taken from them because of what is happening in the government are expected to take over the very same government that did them no favors. It is really a sad scenerio.

For those reasons I will probably vote in favor of Prop 100 despite my reserve on how to fix budget problems. I know how it will effect my parents, students and the very future of our state and country. What a sad time it is when the first place people turn for budget cuts are education and public safety. That's another side I could get into because of the many neighbors I have in public safety, but I will save that for another time.

I would love to hear what you have to say about this. Here are informational links in favor of Prop 100 and against Prop 100.


  1. I agree with you, Bonnie, that this is a hard decision, but it always seems that we are hitting the job services of those that deal with social needs and concerns. This is about the safety and well being of our community and future - public safety and education. We work in careers that we would probably work in no matter the pay, yet that job is getting harder and harder to do. I fear for the future as we give up so much for so little!!

    Your dad has probably shared with you the drastic cuts that Mesa is preparing for with our plan B (the plan we will resort to if Prop 100 does NOT pass.) PE only one day a week. No Art classes - another job for the classroom teacher, no elementary school counselors (at Roosevelt that's a must!)Custodial service 2 times a week (yuck - I will not clean the kids bathroom!) And that's just the tip of the iceberg. You can read more about it on the MPS website (

    Like you, I believe that when we have to get "skinny" with budgeting we typically get very creative. My complaint is that we have already cut back. This year the first grades had 31 students in classes without aides. Next year will be up to 38 in each class before they will look for new teachers. That becomes crowd control and nothing more. How does one teach procedures, run literacy stations, teach CORE and do more than monitor with that many? It's just crowd control.

    In police work it's much the same. Police officers are being asked to work 10-12 hour shifts and for so little that affording housing is becoming nearly impossible without picking up a second job. These men and women are laying their lives on the line each day, yet we are considering lowering their pay and increasing their responsibilities. My niece's husband is an officer that covers our school. I see him infrequently and his job is getting more and more complex and demanding.

    I know the solution isn't easy. These services; education and public safety account for 40% of the state's budget, but we will pay one way or another!! I, myself, will not gamble with my future - children and safety!!

    Sorry that I am on a soapbox. As a RS president I see how this will impact so many in our ward alone!!! No matter what or how we feel - just VOTE!! What a great freedom to do that!!

  2. I have been struggling with Prop 100 for a long time now, because I don't want my child's education to suffer any more then anyone else. As a teacher I understand how taxing it becomes when class sizes are enlarged and aides are not available. The strain on our teachers become ridiculous and quality teaching cannot take place. The added funding will help, but for how long? After working for MPS for the last 13 years I have seen the constant misuse of school funds. Unless the school system is forced to completely restructure the way they have been doing things (and I could talk about this extensively), this will not improve. Until we see the same amount of dedication and sacrifice from the administration as we see from the teachers, no amount of money will fix the problem. We are losing qualified teachers because there is no criteria established for determining what a good teacher really is; thus, teachers are not being compensated or recognized for their hard work. We are losing our students because our highly qualified teachers are going other places. I was told that at one of the district high schools a significant percentage of this year’s sophomore class is failing 3 or more classes! The fix is not more money, it is complete rethinking and possible reorganization of the way we have been doing things.

  3. Thanks for the comments! There's more information I didn't know about. Isn't it sad when we're faced with these kind of decisions. Thanks for sharing your opinions.

  4. Thanks for the thoughtful post on this issue, Bonnie. I'm a proponent of the tax only because I know what will happen if it doesn't pass. I'm frustrated that it has come to this, though. It almost seems like political blackmail -- i.e., the legislature seems to be saying 'we won't properly fund education or public safety, but you can tax yourselves to pay for it and then we can still look like we're fiscally conservative and not anti-child ogres.'

    Also, I am apprehensive about our state's ability to keep its promise when it comes to funding education. Weren't lottery proceeds, 301 funds, and that early childhood initiative all supposed to be going towards education? It seems like as soon as the money is needed elsewhere, our kids are the first to take the hit.

    Right now the district I work for (Tucson Unified) already cut 5% of their total budget this year and will be cutting 5% more for next year if the tax passes, 10% if it doesn't. This will mean up to 10 furlough days for teachers and a 5% pay cut. We have also closed or merged 10 schools with an additional 10 on the chopping block. Each school has some degree of local control over how they spend their allotted FTE (full-time equivalent) positions. Because we value smaller class sizes (ha! smaller is up to 27 in kinder), most schools have chosen to do away with PE, music, and art teachers (all taught by the regular teacher now). We have also lost counselors and librarians. And this is all before the vote! I agree there is some degree of waste in district administration -- especially in big districts like TUSD and Mesa, but there is only so much blood you can squeeze from a turnip.

    So, I'm with you, Bonnie. I will be reluctantly voting yes on 100. I'm not happy about it. And I agree that if it passes it's just a band-aid that will likely need major surgery by the time we rip it off in 3 years.

  5. I come to this with a background of educators in the family, but not as deeply as most of the rest of you. I think that if 100 passes or not, we're just in for a some really rough years. A vote in favor will only prolong the pain, so I have to say no to the politicians who would try to point a gun at us to get this to pass. The people must remain in control.

    We must demand true fiscal responsibility of our elected officials. Starting points: a flat tax and slash social programs (this one hurts because I have a high-functioning autistic nephew, and the help he has had from physical and social therapists has been tremendous), seal the borders, enforce the current immigration laws to discourage illegal immigration. Filling social needs are the responsibility of communities, not the government. We all need to be more charitable.

    When we get back on our feet and are out of debt, we need to stay that way, and work to help others. The same thing should happen at the state level. We need someone with a vision to rebuild the public education system so that it shines like it did when we were there. It won't be pretty for a while, but if we can get a reasonable plan that instills true hope, it will work.

    Parents must take responsibility to support and reinforce what our kids are learning at school. It's not the teachers' job to provide education for our kids. It's our (the parents') job. If we shirk our responsibility to parent our kids, they will fail and it will be our fault, not the teachers' or even the government.

    That's more soapbox than I planned on when I started. I love public schools. We celebrated Jeff Harris' 30 year career as Choral Director at Westwood High last night. What an amazing thing to be part of! 300+ choir alumni came to honor him and give thanks to his service. I treasure my public education and hope my kids can look back and feel the same about theirs.

  6. Bonnie, I agree with a lot you have said. Not having children, I am still very interested in what and how they are learning and being taught. After all, we still pay for schooling even if we have no children. I do have a question for Chris, where the statement is made "It's is not the teachers' job to provide education for our kids." Did I read that wrong? If that is the case, what is the teacher's job and why pay a teacher, if it is the parents job instead? There would be no reason for teachers. Maybe it is just me and I'm misunderstanding what Chris is saying. If she is referring to home schooling, I would agree, then, it would be the parents' job. However, going to a public school for education means that the teacher is the one to do the teaching.

    Those of you voting are really going to have a hard time with this one. Having lived in Arizona until moving back to Texas last year, I will not have to decide on which way to vote. However, Texas will have the same problems and we will find ourselves with the same decision. It will be interested to see how the vote turns out and see how the funds and "really" used.

  7. My comment about providing education is not intended to offend any educators (or anyone else either). I hope it didn't. What I mean is that parents can't just drop kids off at school and say "ok, go learn!" Parents need to be involved as much as they can, in being aware of the curriculum and following up with the teacher and our kids to see that the kids are learning. An (probably incomplete) analogy is my car. My car needs to have regular care (gas, oil change, tire rotation, etc). I could do it all at home by myself (home school), but I don't have all the know-how, time or equipment to do all of it. So professionals helps me achieve my goal of having a well-maintained car (gas providers, mechanics, etc.); just as a teacher is a professional I take my kids to so they are in the right environment to learn the basics.

    My daughter has learned tons about reading, writing, and math in kindergarten this year. She's learned it faster and probably better than I would have taught her. But that doesn't mean we didn't work on it with her for the last few years.

    All I mean is that kids are the parents' responsibility. Teachers are great professionals to facilitate learning. Ultimately, the buck stops with me though, no matter what the state's education budget situation is. And I won't agree with the state using that excuse to raise my taxes.