June 2010 Your Turn

We’re your state legislature, and we’re here to help you.”

If that statement makes you shudder, then you’re in the majority of responders to our April question: “How helpful is your state legislature?”

Most frequent answer: “Not very.”

Sixty-eight percent of you said your state legislature makes it harder for school boards to do their jobs. Eleven percent said your legislature “is generally a good partner in our school reform efforts,” and 16 percent dubbed your state lawmakers’ record as “mixed.” Another five percent marked “none of the above.”

Here’s a response from Superintendent Shawn M. Watt of Arizona: “If you’re a fan of legislatures that collaborate with school districts and truly care about the education of children, Arizona’s legislature (generally speaking) is not the one for you. While there are individual legislators who have a real passion for education, our legislature, as a single body, historically has failed in terms of prioritizing the investment in education, as evidenced by the state continually ranking at or near the bottom of the nation in per-pupil funding.”

And another, also from Arizona:

“If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would suggest to you that there is a movement underfoot in Arizona to ‘kill the beasts’ (the traditional public schools) by starving them to death,” said Superintendent Jay C. St. John. “Please note that charter schools in Arizona are ‘public schools for profit.’ The charter school movement in Arizona is not starving to death. Interesting concept for public funds!”

From Arizona again: “When the state legislature in Arizona is in session, public schools are not safe,” wrote Superintendent Robert F. Dooley. “Our legislature is anti-tax and anti-public education. It promotes tax credits for private business and reduces taxes at a time of record budget deficits.”

Would you like to continue reading?
Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.