As former Superintendents of Public Instruction and architects of the prior significant infusion of resources to K-12 education (Prop 301), we are extremely enthusiastic about supporting Prop 123. We have a tremendous opportunity to once again support students by voting YES on Prop 123 today.
Our elected leaders followed through on their commitment to make education a clear priority this year - in the budget and in other legislative action. There is no question that this year has turned the corner on a new day for significant new investments into education with $181 million designated above Prop 123. Now, it’s our turn.
We the People have an opportunity to deliver to schools the significant new funding they need. The compromise that was reached to create Proposition 123 requires that the voters make the decision to flip the switch and send $224 million of brand new money to schools next month followed by $231 million in the 2016-2017 school year.
With one Yes vote from each of you, schools can receive $454 million over the next 13 months and 3.5 billion additional over 10 years. The systematic gains in achievement that voters have been clamoring for is happening on the learning side. Now your action is required to authorize the dollars in Prop 123 from both the state General Fund and State Trust Land income to make their way to your local schools.
Our schools desperately need these funds. Passage of Proposition 123 provides significantly more money directly into classrooms and to our hardworking teachers. Since the cuts of the “great recession” most teachers have not received a raise, and we can fix that on May 17. Personally, we don’t care which state fund these dollars come from – both are intended to support education and our teachers deserve a raise. But for those of you who want to make sure the legislature and the land trust both hold up their end on the Constitutional responsibilities to fund education, your call has been heeded.
Let’s send a message TODAY that reflects the work of our schools – excellence is emerging all across Arizona education. We are now in the top three achievement gainers nationally, our achievement gap between wealthy and poor students is closing faster than in our neighboring states, and all of this is being done while our teacher salaries lag considerably behind their colleagues’ in other states. It is time to set aside lesser concerns and give these teachers a raise.
It is getting easier for us to imagine an Arizona where we are all investing what it takes to sustain the work of the teachers who have made this happen for us.
Now, you can do more than imagine investing in our teachers…you can make it happen. Vote YES for Proposition 123 – and keep up your end of a pretty grand bargain.
Jaime Molera and Lisa Graham Keegan are both former Arizona state school superintendents.