The average per-pupil-funding across the 50 states was $11,009 (most recent info from U.S. Census 2016 report is for 2014). New York and Connecticut spend a heck of a lot more than Arizona — because they can.

Arizona per-pupil-funding for 2014 was $7528. That is an 11.6% drop in funding since 2010 — and over a 17% drop if you go back before the recession. As the recession has drawn to a close and states have more money in their coffers, some are steadily restoring the funding  of their schools. Arizona has not. Our legislature has done just the opposite.

Aspiring to be average — $11,000 —  is not realistic. Not going to happen in Arizona. Scratch that.

How about Below Average? I was thinking Arkansas. Arkansas’s per-pupil funding is $9616. Nah. It’s below average, but it’s a bridge too far.

So, what about Alabama?  $9028 per pupil. Is that too far a reach for our Arizona legislators to not only fund schools but to relieve local taxpayers — who are already paying a lot more in local taxes than they used to — because the Arizona Legislature is determined to bow out of its Arizona Constitutional requirement to fund schools. Well,  I kind of like that $9,000 figure. Let’s aim for Alabama. Good job, Alabama!

Does that $9 in the $9,000 make you quiver? All right.

Colorado. That’s the one. Colorado per-pupil spending for 2014 was $8985. That’s a little better than Arizona’s 2010 funding of education, which was $8520.

Still too much? Well, Dear Arizona Legislators, in order to start the journey of funding our schools properly, restore funding at the 2010 level of $8520. We’ll let you off the hook for now. But remember. It’s a journey, not a destination. Be warned. Parent coalitions are popping up around the state. The next election is only two years away. Peace.

Darn, somehow Below Below Average  now sounds mighty good. I wonder, though, why no other states are trying to be like  Arizona?

Go figure.




Never Thought I’d Be Running for School Board . . .

by theschoolprincipal on September 2, 2016

First, I was a teacher, then a principal about the time No Child Left Behind came along. At my elementary school my staff and I had  already been working on reforms for our school. We did a good job. Our reforms were designed for OUR kids and they paid off because they were the right reforms for OUR school. But then along came NCLB, and we were suddenly marching to a different drummer. We spent a lot of valuable time doing meaningless things. One of the most meaningless was this one: PROVE (TO US, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT) THAT WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS WORKING! All they had to do was look at our scores from previous years to  see that our students had made great strides and were on grade level or above. But no. We had to enter ten years of their many versions of testing, testing testing — taking away from important instructional time in the classroom.

By the time I retired in December 2009, I felt like Alice in Wonderland wandering around in a maze. As more and more federal “reforms” were put into place  the worse things became. So I started this website hoping it would connect me with other educators and parents across the nation — and that together, we could do something. This website was actually noticed by a group called Save Our Schools. They were planning a march in D.C. in 2011 and asked me to be on the board. Keeping up this website and working on the board kept me hopping. I was involved in everything and had the privilege of working with some wonderful knowledgeable educators and parents from across the nation, such as Anthony Cody, Ken Bernstein, Nancy Flanagan — and many others.

So we actually pulled the march off.  Very unlike me to be in a march — but I was angry at what Congress had done to the profession I loved. It was estimated that 5,000 – 8,000 people showed up at the march. We were hoping for more — but  it was a start. And we had reached through our website thousands more who supported us but could not make the trip.

Before I left for D.C., I had made appointments with my two Arizona Senators and my Congressman. Never did I think I would be by my lonesome in the Halls of Congress stating my cause! What an interesting experience.

Following scenario repeated 3 times in 3 different offices:

Desk: Name?

Me: Katherine Cox. I have an appointment.

Desk:  Who do you represent?

Me:  (not understanding) Who do I represent? Well, I represent me. I am a retired teacher and elementary and high school principal who wants Senator (or Congressman) So and So to know how damaging NCLB has been and to do something.

Desk: (suddenly very bored)  Ohh. Wait and someone will be with you.

It took me awhile to understand. Although I had had real experience in the trenches and my advice was based on  experience — rather than  just being an opinion from someone who had not been an educator — it meant nothing to Washington unless I represented a lobbying group. I could have said I represent Save Our Schools, but I didn’t think of it. I was there to relate my own experience under NCLB.

During each of the 3 meetings I got to meet with the Big Guy’s educational advisor — two twenty-somethings and one thirty-something. Two of them were very bored. The thirty-something did take notes as I spoke. I asked them all if they had been teachers. No.  I asked them all if they had been to Arizona. No. After going through a litany of the unintended consequences of NCLB, I was passionate: Congress has to do something. You have to get rid of No Child Left Behind, said me. At least two of the “advisors” said, ‘”No one in Congress likes NCLB but no one knows what to do about it.” The end.

After meeting with those “advisors” I felt hopeless. What could I do? Everyone involved with organizing the March was exhausted and after we went home,we all went on to other endeavors. I stopped writing my blog but watched aghast as President Obama came out with Blueprint for Reform and Race to the Top. Then Common Core came along, and I watched my third grade grandson in Phoenix struggle with Common Core math. He is now in 7th grade and knows very little math.

And now we have the next version of No Child Left Behind. It’s called ESSA — Every Child Succeeds Act. It’s better, more realistic, and there’s more local control. But I’m wary, very wary.

So I’m running for school board in Lake Havasu City, Arizona — a place with a gem of a school district — but not even all of the people in my town understand how good it really is. I want to change that. I want to rebuild confidence and trust in our local schools by explaining how schools work and how school finance works. I’m willing to talk to groups, write a column, answer questions, address rumors — do just about anything to, at least locally, restore the public’s confidence in our own local schools.(One of the sad consequences of all of this “reform” has been the demonizing of all public schools and public school teachers. Certainly many schools need major reform but many were, and still are, serving their students quite well.)

As a board member I will work hard to address and help change inadequate state funding of schools. Arizona is about 49th in per pupil funding. Unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. You’ll hear a lot more from me about this issue on this website, I promise.

And as a board member, I will keep an eye on ESSA and how it’s working in my school district. Whatever wastes time and money, whatever is meaningless — you can bet I will leave no stone unturned to get the legislature, the state board, the state superintendent to take notice and DO SOMETHING.

Whether or not I am elected to the school board, I will keep up this blog. I have already developed a map of Arizona counties that will go on the home page after the November election. Visitors to the site can click on their own county and leave feedback as to how things are going locally. I  plan to connect with others like myself so that together we become a force (a lobby? I hate that word) that our state legislators pay attention to. Sadly, without the bucks to help pay for their campaigns, most legislators will pay little attention. But, there’s always the vote. It doth, doesn’t it, make a powerful difference?

So, Lake Havasu, I ask for your vote on November 8. I am a doer, I know what I’m talking about, and I am a change agent. I am accessible and am not only a good listener  –but I WANT to hear your point of view. Together, you and I can make a difference!




Nancy Flanagan Nails It! Sorry, Folks, But This is What REAL School Reform Should Look Like.

August 28, 2011

Finally! Out of the mouth of Nancy Flanagan and just what the doctor ordered. We’ve been waiting for this prescription for too many years. Now let’s stop wasting time. Get rid of NCLB and RTTT and LET US TEACH! How simple can it be? Give us back the time spent on testing so that we can TEACH!

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Arne Makes a Move – How Will Your State Be Affected?

August 7, 2011

Not exactly a reprieve — and all it means is that NCLB just continues on and on. Should we rejoice? Take a look at Arne’s latest and then take a look at what Monty Neill of FairTest thinks of that! Parents Across America rejects Arne’s proposal — very insightful comments from those in the know!

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This Is What I’m Talking About!

July 18, 2011

So. If President Obama wants advice about how to fight the war in Afghanistan, who will he invite to his roundtable? Bankers? Communications execs? Retail store CEO’s? So, what is he thinking? What would these people know about fighting a war? How about education?  What in the world do they have to contribute to a […]

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How to Cure A Sick Horse

May 6, 2011

[Arne Duncan was U.S. Secretary of Education during much of the Obama administration.] Arne, Arne, Arne,  (make that Arnie, Arnie, Arnie) When you’ve got what you think is a sick horse, you don’t spend all of your time and money on what’ s coming out the  end of the horse. You concentrate on what’s going […]

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Teacher Appreciation Week

May 2, 2011

If you are a teacher, a librarian, a school psychologist or support staff, this entire week is about you. Ignore the teacher bashing. It’s meaningless. You’re being used for political purposes. Fight back but don’t let it get to you. You know what you do — so you know that all of the hullabaloo is […]

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Fool Congress Once — But Can Arne Fool It Twice?

April 7, 2011

For this post, you need to click the links in order to understand and then actually believe the story below. The researchers in the links, whether they are a peer-reviewed professor, Diane Ravitch, or a 60 Minutes crew, are far more credible than I, a retired principal, can be. The last decade of school reform […]

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How to Get from Here to There – – Curriculum

April 3, 2011

[This post was written in 2011. I have updated it in spots in order to include what’s going on in 2016. It goes without saying the we want students to be able to get a job or be prepared to further their education. But what else?] One question, THE question, which has yet to be asked […]

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Real School Reform — What Will It Take? Part 1.

March 8, 2011

My friend and former classmate, John Sachs, writes a weekly column in the Ruston Daily Leader in Ruston, Lousiana, which is in the north central part of the state along the 1-20. John is a retired CPA who likes to dabble in figures, especially when he’s investigating data in order to substantiate someone’s research — […]

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