Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Race to the Top - Blessing, or Curse?

Maybe you have heard of Race to the Top. For those of you that don't know, it is funding for states that meet certain criteria for education improvement. States have to apply and go through an approval process to even be considered. Last year, Arizona was eliminated in the first round, not even close to considered. So AZ hired the same person that wrote the application for a winning state, and what do you know? Today, Arizona became one of the Race to the Top states, and will receive $200 million dollars to go towards education, allocated by September 2012- 1 brief year away.

As a teacher, I should be thrilled about this. We are ranked 48th out of 51 states for education, even Puerto Rico ranks above AZ. But I live in AZ. Crazy, AZ. There are studies that show that states with higher taxes allot more money for education, and as a result students have higher test scores, and lead more "successful" lives (slightly subjective, I know, but still accurate). I am living in the state with the lowest taxes in the country, hence the crappy education rating, and people here do nothing but complain about taxes. Last spring there was a special vote to add a temporary 3 year 1 cent sales tax to go to education (which passed), but it went to the public because the AZ government likes to cut education funding, and never raise taxes, and wanted to see what the public thought. They had us vote on it because they have no idea what Arizonans really want. A poll was released at the time that confirmed that our state elected are only in tune with 10% of what the residents want to see happen. Let's not forget that they also spent the last year legalizing no need for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, guns are now allowed in bars, and immigrants (legal or not) trying to live the American Dream and make a good life for their families doing jobs that most American citizens turn their nose ups at are being run out of the state in droves at the opinion and actions of one corrupt Sheriff and a bigoted state Congress. I am having trouble believing that they will allocate the funds appropriately. My biggest fear is that they will use this as an excuse to cut regular state funding from the education budget, and simply supplement with the federal funds. (This same state congress also wanted to cut $10.5 of $11 million dollars from Career and Technical Education because they didn't think it was effective in preparing students for the working world after graduation. As a CTE teacher, I can't even begin to wonder how the hell they they can justify that statement. That conversation only makes my blood boil. But if you ever want to have a civilized discussion about this, you let me know. I am OK with agreeing to disagree. I may not like it, but if someone can explain it to me, I am all ears because, frankly, it is currently the dumbest thing I have ever heard.)

I don't know all of the details of the funding, so maybe I shouldn't be saying anything until I do a little research. But I have list all faith in AZ politics (is it coincidence that the state government is pretty much all Republican?), and hope they don't destroy something that I love and believe in. I always try to see the positive, and do the best I can in any situation.  Every day I wake up and giggle in delight that I am a teacher, even in the future. I feel like I blush every time someone asks what I do for a living. I consider it my biggest accomplishment, and I am proud every day to be involved in education. Going into my 3rd year, I am more excited than ever by the possibilities of making learning fun and helping to shape kids into positive contributors to society. And (to toot my own horn) I am good at it because I love it. Tomorrow is another first day of school, and I can't wait to see what the year brings. I can only hope that the buffoons that have been voted into my state congress will make smart decisions regarding this extra funding, and don't do a disservice to the children of our future by cutting regular state funding for education.  We are already behind the curve and have a ways to go to catch up and become competitive. These kids will be making decisions when our government representatives are senior citizens and need to be taken care of. Lets make sure teachers get the resources they need to help develop our kids into innovative, creative problem solvers who can read, write, and understand math and science.

And I think my political rant may be over. To be determined. Thank you for your time.


Cynthia said...

Was catching up on your blog and so sorry to read about the miscarriage. I would like to particpate in some of the drinking you are doing, so let me know if you want me to plan a girl's drinking night sometime soon.

Also hope you are sleeping better.

And lastly, the politics post - can you believe that I agree with not raising taxes? Don't hate me. The problem is that our government constantly mismanages and over spends the money we already give them so I don't agree with giving them more. We need to balance the budget first and formost. For example, right now we give them 1 billion in tax money and they committ to 2 billion in programs. That doesn't make sense in my household. If we give them 1 billion in tax money then they need to support 1 billion in programs. Education is not something I want them to cut - but they need to cut something because constantly overspending and raising my taxes to support their overspending is not a sustainable solution.

Lexy said...

Thank you and I love your political rant.

Erika S said...

I'm skeptical as well. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, I guess. :S