Exposing Proposition 123 For What It Is

This author is a staunch fiscal conservative who wants small, limited government and as much power vested in the states as possible. This author believes that the current public education system is devastatingly broken, only continues to devolve, and is decisively moribund. This author has been working to expose Proposition 123 for the thinly-veiled disaster that it is, and for what harm it will visit upon our public school students ten years from now and our economy for decades to follow. But others are talking about Proposition 123, as well:

At a small event last week, tucked behind the brew pots and espresso machine of a coffee shop openly favored by and openly catering to Marxists, education activist, avowed Democrat, and candidate for the TUSD Board, Betts Putnam-Hidalgo launched into a skit depicting the governor and legislature as attempting to rob the State Land Trust fund for the benefit of their cronies. Another speaker portrayed the downtrodden teachers suffering with low wages before and after passage of 123. In discussion after the skit, several of the speakers and the few attendees expressed puzzlement and dismay that the Arizona Education Association, the largest teachers’ union in the state, would support this initiative. Proposition 123, Ms. Putnam-Hidalgo concluded, is terrible for students, for schools, and for our future.

This author wishes to set the record straight and…

Wait a minute… What did she say?

Ms. Putnam-Hidalgo and her fellow presenters are worried about Proposition 123 for the thinly-veiled disaster that it is, for the harm it will visit upon our students in ten years’ time, and for the damage it will do to our economy for decades to follow. That sounds familiar. Of course, they tossed around a few of those tired pandering tropes: This bad initiative lets the Governor and the Legislature funnel more money to the Koch brothers. This is all the fault of the evil Republicans. Or the biggie:

“The Republicans like uneducated students, because it gets them votes.”

Okay, wait again…

Republicans like uneducated students, because it gets them votes? No, no, no. Democrats like uneducated students, because it gets them votes. Doesn’t it? Don’t they?

This author is befuddled, and has struggled to reconcile these incongruous new notions.

Here’s where we all agree:

Politicians like uneducated students, because it gets them votes.

Good, effective, innovative teachers should not have to struggle with non-competitive wages while school administrators make nearly half a million dollars a year.

Students in Arizona deserve an education that challenges their minds, encourages their creativity, and prepares them not just to live in, but to excel in the real world ahead of them.

Arizona needs its public school students to graduate prepared to build up our state’s economy, not to help it limp along on low-paying, unskilled labor.

Lest we forget, the legislators who voted in favor or putting Proposition 123 on the ballot were a mixture of Democrats and Republicans. Yes, undeniably, 123 is truly bipartisan bureaucratic baloney. And the opposition to 123, it turns out, is party-agnostic. That said, if 123 passes, it will give the left irrefutable rhetoric in mass quantity to go after Republicans for bringing about this disaster: Governor Ducey sponsored it; therefore, this mess has the fingerprints of the GOP all over it, and the left will not let the right forget it. And rightfully so.

Unless the voting public wises up and defeats 123.

The election is about a week away now. The decision to the voters is, well, terrible: Vote no, and keep poorly-funded classrooms in poorly-administered districts. Or vote yes and deeply cut the state’s ability to fund education in ten years. Neither outcome is good. But the outcome under a passed Proposition 123 is markedly worse; the outcome under a failed Proposition 123 gives the voters an opportunity to make incremental improvements at the district and state levels in another year’s time.

This author asserts that some on the left have some of their facts wrong, as do some on the right; and that some on the left cannot make an argument without injecting standard partisan rhetoric, as some on the right cannot–even though the rhetoric makes absolutely no sense in this case. But this author cannot overlook the one pivotal postulate of someone from the opposition: That “party X” likes uneducated students because it gets them votes. Both sides decry the other for the same reason, our kids suffer, and neither party comes to the table with a viable solution that gives all parents a choice, all students an edge, and our state the educated adults it requires. Clearly we all need to put the rhetoric aside, forget about party politics, and hammer out a plan that works without robbing the funding sources, without forcing all kids into one form of school or another, and without leaving either side acrimonious toward the other.

This author now believes, after learning that we may not be far off from each other, no matter the party affiliation, that a consensus could exist. Are there enough people from every party willing to put aside partisan politicking and overused tropes, willing to collaborate, and willing to lead? If so, 123 will perish and a truly effective solution will rise from the ashes. That, this author staunchly believes, is what Arizona needs.


  1. Prop 123, if approved, funds 72% of the base amount owed to schools and only 50% of inflation. As it stands, the amount Ducey proposes will only cover the inflation adjustment over the last several years. The schools, at best, will be running in place. Ducey’s betting on voters not knowing that (and a dozen other disastrous things about this proposition, i.e., allowing the Constitution to be amended to take away the voice of the people), voting to tread water, and he’ll look like a hero. Until he gets sued again, that is.

  2. Being opposed to Prop 123 does not require you to be a left-leaning Democrat or a right-leaning Republican. All it requires to be opposed to Prop 123 is the presence of a functional brain and the ability to read what the proposition actually says…not the misrepresentations proponents are spreading.

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