Sunday, February 08, 2009

Russell Pearce - an honest man? Who'da thunk it?

For all of the criticisms leveled at State Senator Russell Pearce (R-National Alliance), nobody can claim that Pearce is sneaky or even subtle.

Unless someone thinks that the ideological equivalent of a lynch mob is 'subtle.'

Earlier this week, The Arizona Guardian ran a budget-related story in which Pearce gave the quote of the year (and it's only February!) -
"If you want to get rid of something, you tax it. If you want to increase something, then deregulate and untax it," he said. The budget cuts made last week will not cause any "real layoffs," he said.

In that quote, he was discussing the job-creating merits of his laissez-faire approach to business regulations and taxes (aka - "none"), but he could have just as easily been discussing his approach to dealing with public education in Arizona.

Some of the bills he has sponsored or co-sponsored through the years...

SB1331 (47th/2nd) - Would have mandated that public school districts create alternative coursework for students who deem regular coursework "offensive."

..."If you want to increase something, then deregulate and untax it..."

HB2487 (47th/2nd) - Would have created a special commission to study private postsecondary education capacity in Arizona, and the expansion of that capacity.

..."If you want to increase something, then deregulate and untax it..."

HB2253 (47th/2nd) - There's a tax credit allowed for taxpayer contributions to public schools. This bill allowed donations to be used for fine arts instruction, but included a provision that the monies donated could not be used to pay the teachers, staff, or administrators needed to actually run such classes.

..."If you want to increase something, then deregulate and untax it..."

SB1108 (Amendment) (48th/2nd) - Would have banned diversity education in AZ's public schools, K-12 and higher ed. Only pro-American and pro-Western civilization teachings allowed. AZRepublic news story here.

..."If you want to increase something, then deregulate and untax it..."

SB1214 (48th/2nd) - Concealed weapons in schools. Allowing them. Ugh.

..."If you want to increase something, then deregulate and untax it..."

SCR1008 (49th/1st) - Would mandate that public school districts spend 65% of their budgets on classroom expenditures. No flexibility at all.

..."If you want to increase something, then deregulate and untax it..."

HB2248 (47th/2nd) - Would have barred schools from requiring that teachers know a language other than English, unless their job was to specifically teach a foreign language. School systems like that in Nogales that have a student population that is over 98% Hispanic - stuck with English-only teachers to communicate with students and their families.

..."If you want to increase something, then deregulate and untax it..."

HB2583 (47th/2nd) - An unfunded mandate to compel public schools to place an American flag and a copy of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights in every classroom. Specifically exempted private, parochial, and home schools. (My personal favorite. :)) )

..."If you want to increase something, then deregulate and untax it..."

...And that's a less than comprehensive list that only goes back a few years, and doesn't include his many "anti-brown skinned students" measures, which are more about his nativist tendencies than about causing havoc in AZ's schools (though he isn't complaining about the 'havoc' aspects of his proposals.)

So if Pearce thinks that the best way to "increase" something (and education certainly is 'something,' isn't it?) is to "deregulate" it, and he is so supportive of education (or so he claims), why does he keep trying to add regulations, rules, and costs for public education?

Don't bother answering, because that's a rhetorical question. Between the history of his attempts to interfere with or undermine public education illustrated above, his hatchet job on public ed this year while funnelling anti-immigrant funding to fellow nativist Joe Arpaio, or his annual attempts to significantly defund public ed with a permanent repeal of the state's equalization property tax, his intent has always been clear -

End public education in Arizona.

Give him a few more years of a Republican majority in the state legislature and a Rep in the governor's office, and higher ed in AZ will consist of the University of Phoenix (a privately-owned business degree mill) and the fly-by-night "schools" of cosmetology and massage therapy that fill Arizona's strip malls.

Enough already. If the voters in Mesa wanted to elected Pearce to the Mesa City Council, that would be fine. It's their city and they can keep running it into the ground if they want. However, they keep foisting off Pearce and his destructive ideology on the rest of the state.

That should be a call to arms for the rest of the state. Perhaps we can't defeat Pearce in his own district (though that would be nice...VERY nice), but we can take control of the lege and the governor's office and effectively marginalize Pearce and his ilk.

And to ensure Arizona's future, we must do so, and do so in 2010 when all of the legislative offices, as well as most of the statewide offices, are on the ballot.

Contact the Arizona Democratic Party, the Maricopa County Democratic Party, the LD18 Democrats, or your local Democratic organization (lists here and here) and volunteer your time or financial support.

David Safier at Blog of Arizona has continuing coverage of the attacks by AZ's Republicans on education, and Randall Amster at The Huffington Post has a great summary of the situation here in AZ here.



Thane Eichenauer said...

HB2583 (47th/2nd) - Governor Janet Napolitano signed that bill into law. Was she wrong to mandate a flag, a US Constitution and Bill of Rights in government schoolrooms?

cpmaz said...

Nope; what was wrong was the 'unfunded mandate' portion of the scheme.

AZ's schools were already short on money - to take some away from the students and teachers in order to pay for Pearce's ego trip was just plain stupid.

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