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Elections 2014

Dozer Download: Prop 204 fallout worse than we thought

I know that Proposition 204 was defeated at the polls by a two-to-one margin.

The big money behind the no on 204 groups and their anti-tax message were heard loud and clear. It's hard to sell a tax in Arizona, even if it's the continuation of one that's already in place, and pays for your kid's public education.

I know I could stand to be in a lower tax bracket, and there's nothing that irks me more than the phrase "contribute," as in, the more successful you are as an American, the more you should "voluntarily give" to the cause, but taxes are not voluntary. That's called philanthropy.

But the forces behind the no on 204 movement succeeded in not only defeating that measure, but apparently half of the individual districts' bond overrides as well. Ours in Scottsdale Unified failed, and the effect will soon be felt. Personally.

Teachers at my son's elementary school have already gotten a letter stating there will be cuts to teaching staff, and barring some surprise money showing up, there will be no art, music or physical education. I don't send my son to school to learn how to play kickball, but I value the fine arts and whatever music instruction he can possibly get during his day.

I have already checked into enrollment at two private schools for the coming year, but I wanted to do it the "public" way. I wanted to use our wonderful public schools for their well-rounded, pragmatic approach. I wanted to believe that we as Arizonans value the school systems in our neighborhoods enough to support them with a sales tax. It's a consumption tax, and yet, apparently, it's too much to ask.

I understand that as citizens we want to know that our public school dollars are being used effectively. I don't want any wasted money in the education arena, but our teachers need money. Our districts need money. The system does need money to train teachers on common core standards, implementing a computerized system for evaluating teachers based on performance and implementing new and emerging technology in our classrooms.

Arizona teachers are not paid what their peers in Chicago's school system are and shouldn't have to pay the price for the public outrage felt after that city's teachers' strike. There is a cost for continuing education. Teacher evaluation based on results will be impossible without a computer program written for the task and without new technology, our public school children will continue to fall further and further behind. They are our employees and employers of the future.

Arizona deserves better. Here's to hoping the no on 204 groups come up with a finance plan for Arizona schoolchildren -- all of them.

About the Author


Years with the company: Just started with Bonneville, but have worked for and with KTAR AM and FM since 1991.

Career: I always knew my career would be touched by news. I started as a news intern in 1991 and eventually reported news and sports, and anchored newscasts at KTAR when it was an AM, news/talk/sports station. I went to work at the Attorney General's Office in 1995, as a spokesperson for the 300 attorneys there, and for Attorney General Grant Woods. I returned as a part-time host and host of Arizona's Morning News Saturday in 2001.

Education: I escaped Catholic school early when the nuns wanted me to skip the second grade. I found my independent voice at a private grade school in Painesville, Ohio, then called Phillips Elementary. The teachers there encouraged us to ask questions and challenge the status quo. They took us on mind-opening trips and never once treated us like children. I am grateful for those years! I left Ohio in 1988 to attend Arizona State University because I knew I wanted to live in the West. I majored in Journalism and interned at KTAR in the newsroom my senior year.

Family: I am the last of nine children and my parents were undoubtedly looking at retiring when I was born. I was raised early on mostly by my five wonderful sisters. I have so many first cousins that I haven't yet met most of them.

Favorite movie: Caddyshack and anything by John Hughes.

#1 sports team: NL Diamondbacks. AL Cleveland Indians. Gotta love a team whose mascot is named Chief Wahoo.

Outside interests: Working out, cooking, traveling and reading a great book.

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