It’s state budget time! And Arizona is into a budget surplus, and out of excuses. We could fund education. We could even begin to “restore the years the locusts have eaten.” Here’s the letter I sent:

Dear Governor Ducey, and Arizona Legislature,

What if all our children grew up to contribute their full potential in the world? What if we provided the education they needed, all the way through college or technical training?

Cultures who honor teachers (and parents) understand that children are our future.

Education spending is the most selfish way to tax ourselves. We improve the critical thinking of fellow voters and the emotional intelligence of our neighbors, spark innovation, train our workforce, expand our economy, raise property values, reduce crime, and raise the most taxable salaries. It’s a tax hike in disguise.

If we prefer to pay for more police, prisons, blight, recession, that’s an option.

My 27-year-old son is the successful product of a great Arizona education—elementary through ASU. His brother, attending the same elementary school, had to navigate a dismantled system. Thanks to No Child Left Behind and the AZ legislators’ response to that (omnipresent testing), the flood of illegal immigration and the legislators’ response to that (ending bilingual education), my younger son wasted his first years on meaningless AIMS worksheets, waiting for the English Language Learners to catch up, and surviving playground gangs. It took research, effort, patience, and winning an enrollment lottery to move him into schools that work, the kind all of our children deserve to attend.

After what our federal and state governments have done to education, it is amazing we have any teachers left, or that anyone majors in Education. We are beginning to understand how brains work and people learn, and we are training marvelous teachers to capitalize on that. Then we don’t let them use what they know. We legislate stupidity, teachers struggle to teach the best they can, and we can’t even pay them a livable wage.

Teachers should not have to live in poverty, inherit money, or marry a “real’ breadwinner.

Let’s do something revolutionary: fund education, pay teachers a competitive wage, and educate ALL our children.

Gwyn Nichols

A few of you readers also live in Arizona. I’d love to hear your stories. Here’s how to stay informed on Arizona education funding (including the upcoming Proposition 123), and send your own thoughts: http://www.expectmorearizona.org/blog/2016/04/27/first-look-whats-inside-proposed-arizona-budget-education/

And for the rest of you across the country, around the globe, I’d love to hear about your educational system with its trials and triumphs. (I wrote a college paper on education in rural Tunisia, so I kid you not. I want to know.)