Arizona K-12 system dying the death of 4500 cuts

The Arizona Education Association is reporting that nearly 4,500 K-12 teachers and other personnel have been pink-slipped for the next school year. What is truly worrying about this is that it is based on reports from only 36 of the 220 districts statewide and more layoffs are inevitable. You may remember that Republican lawmakers called for drastic cuts instead of raising taxes (which haven't been raised state-wide in 20 years). I hope they are happy.

For some context, you need to remember that Arizona before the cuts spent less than almost every state in the Union on education while being fourth largest in spending on corrections.

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Hey, it can't be all that bad. I know Mesa Schools still has enough in the budget for full-time coaches.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 15 Apr 2009 #permalink

Let's not forget all those wonderful children of illegal immigrants flooding the schools in AZ and adding extra costs and extra bodies to overcrowd them, not to mention requiring services in Spanish. Republicans love the illegal immigrants because they help to depress wages and provide lots of dirt cheap labor without requiring things like benefits.

Adrienne wrote:

Let's not forget all those wonderful children of illegal immigrants flooding the schools in AZ and adding extra costs and extra bodies to overcrowd them, not to mention requiring services in Spanish.

At the risk of derailing an important topic, feel free to provide some real numbers and citations to back this up. (Hint: The Maricopa County Sheriff Office is not an adequate source)

Let's not forget all those wonderful children of illegal immigrants flooding the schools in AZ and adding extra costs and extra bodies to overcrowd them, not to mention requiring services in Spanish.

Funny you should mention that: Here's an article on that very subject in this morning's Arizona Republic.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 15 Apr 2009 #permalink

It mentions in the article that some districts are retrenching due to falling enrollment. How is population going up, yet enrollment going down?

What illegal immigrants are costing Arizona:

http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecent…

http://mensnewsdaily.com/2008/05/15/striking-changes-in-arizona-as-ille…

And actually, you're right. The tougher crackdowns on illegal immigrants in Arizona have resulted in many of them fleeing the state. Now if we could only crackdown nationwide, many of them would self-deport with their children, saving our school systems millions of dollars.

And here: Report: Illegal immigrants cost state $1.4B in wages, http://www.azcentral.com/specials/special46/articles/0109biz-illlegalsc…

Notice the study was commissioned by Maricopa County, but not actually conducted by them.

Borjas wrote that the drop in Arizona's wages was greatest for those who make the least, high-school dropouts and inexperienced workers.

For dropouts, wages for legal workers were 4.7 percent lower than they would be without illegal immigrants, Borjas found. Dropouts earned $20,300 in 2005, about $950 less than they otherwise would have been, he calculated.

Note Borjas says that eventually he expects wages would return to normal, but doesn't know how long this would take. Which is a good argument, IMHO, in favor of securing our border and stopping future waves of illegal immigrants even if we amnesty the ones here now.

How is population going up, yet enrollment going down?

This is Arizona, where there's a Constitutional provision against stable neighborhoods.

The pattern is: a developer paves a stretch of open desert, builds a lot of houses, and then petitions a nearby city for annexation (which the city always does). People move in to find that there aren't roads, schools, etc. enough for the new inhabitants, so the city/state issue general bonds to build roads, water and sewer plants, etc. (paid for by the people who have subsidized the last 60 years of expansion.) The new residents are disproportionately young families with school-age kids, so there's a big bubble in school enrollment (with attendant construction needs, see above.)

Twenty years later, the kids are gone but the parents remain. No enrollment. Schools still have maintenance costs. District closes schools, sells the properties, and consolidates remaining students in a few remaining schools.

Twenty more years later, the original owners retire and leave the area. Young families with children move in. There aren't any more sites for schools nearby. Crowding results, so the district issues more bonds (see above) to remodel the remaining schools into high-occupancy facilities. Much cost for bussing.

Give the process a few more cycles and the demographic waves settle out. In the meantime, you get a charming combination of schools with too few teachers and not enough classroom space at the same time other districts are laying off staff and closing schools.

It would be less of a problem for the teachers if they weren't locked into a district-by-district seniority system (including retirement benefits) that make moving from one district to another very costly for the teachers.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 15 Apr 2009 #permalink

"For some context, you need to remember that Arizona before the cuts spent less than almost every state in the Union on education while being fourth largest in spending on corrections."

Maybe you should cut out the middleman and send all the kids straight to Sheriff Joe? For example, kindergartners can learn math by counting the rocks they break while serving on Joe's chain gang.

By Some lurker (not verified) on 20 Apr 2009 #permalink

This will simply life in Arizona in the long run. When a child is born, he/she will be entered into a lottery to decide whether he/she will spend life as a prison guard or inmate. Without school funding, there won't be many other choices available.

By beagledad (not verified) on 30 Apr 2009 #permalink