Sen. State Sen. Al Melvin writes in his Sept. 30 column that "declining enrollment, largely as a result of an outflow of illegal aliens and their children, has impacted the per-pupil funding formulas of some schools," which he cites as an explanation of why support for public education in Arizona has decreased since he and his allies started calling the shots in Phoenix.
Melvin also states that "public schools and abortion providers" have joined forces to stop high-minded champions of "accountability when it comes to education spending," like him, from doing their jobs.
Bizarre conspiracy theories and statements that lack any basis in fact do not excuse Sen. Melvin's woeful record when it comes to support for children and their schools in LD 26. We elected Sen. Melvin to fight for our best interests, not to pursue his own personal, ideological agenda, which anyone who visits his campaign website (http://votealmelvin.com/issues.asp) will see is his priority.
In my September 16th column, I quoted Sen. Melvin as saying back in March that "the way to fix education is to make schools, like the ones we have in LD 26, stronger." Yet, our state senator has stripped funding from schools in Amphi, Catalina Foothills, Flowing Wells and Marana that has resulted in larger class sizes, fewer supplies and teachers losing their jobs. Sen. Melvin has yet to tell us what he has done to make schools in LD 26 "stronger."
Just last year, Sen. Melvin's Republican colleague, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, reminded Arizonans that "we rank 49th out of 50 in our public expenditures per pupil" (http://www.ade.az.gov/administration/superintendent/pr01-07-08StateOfEducationSpeech2008.pdf). Our state senator says in his column that "we spend more than $9,700 per public school student" in this state. What Sen. Melvin fails to tell you is that he is likely lumping construction and building maintenance funds into that figure.
We are the second-fastest growing state in the union and will, of course, be spending more money to build new schools and upgrade older ones. Sen. Melvin again tries to mislead you. He hopes that his allegations about the supposed actions of "bureaucrats and political hacks" will muddy the waters and prevent you from seeing that he is not doing what he said he would do when he ran for office.
Sen. Melvin says that "parents need to be made aware that the information that they receive from their schools is written with a political agenda in mind." This is an astounding statement. If you have a child in a LD 26 school, think about any information you have received from them regarding the factual impact of budget cuts on class sizes, teacher supplies and hiring decisions. These are not political manifestos, but they do point to the direct impact of votes taken by Sen. Melvin and his ideological soulmates on public education.
Sen. Melvin rails against the actions of "Arizona's education bureaucracy." This is a common talking point for those who seek more "competition" through private school vouchers and other means, but just who are the members of this faceless "bureaucracy" that Sen. Melvin blames for all the woes besetting education? Until he starts to name people, or cite their jobs in any LD 26 school district, this baseless charge is nothing more than a diversionary tactic on the part of someone whose own voting record fails the test of reasonable scrutiny.
Whenever a politician is not doing their job, they invent boogeymen and point fingers in a lame attempt to detract your attention from their own failures. Sen. Melvin wants you to think that he is fighting for "accountability," but all you have to do is ask the educators who work with your children to tell you what is going on right now in our LD 26 schools. Sen. Melvin wants to add them to his enemies list, but he isn't fooling anyone who takes the time to check the facts.
Rex Scott is an LD 26 resident and a high school principal.