Education Propaganda Coming to an Inbox Near You

By Gayle Plato

 Nothing makes conservatives seem more like big green meanies than strong stands against spending, or better yet, proposing CUTS in educational spending.  About two weeks ago, I received a nice e-mail sent to the class parents’ group, from the homeroom parent, pleading with us all to attend the school board meeting regarding teacher cuts and budget information.  The message was an open push for parents to take a political stand.  I knew it was written by the PTO, and I felt their pain. 

 Parents are truly worried about changes coming to the schools. Class size and aide time are such big deals for most moms on the waiting wall at pick up time.  Yet, I know as a teacher, a great educator can manage and teach 30 kids during a wild moment, while a crummy teacher can’t handle 12 kids when all are angels.   I know that class spending is one of the biggest misnomers in the history of taxation. 

 I received great information via Facebook (Thanks friends of Thayer :-), and I am including it here.  The Arizona Department of Education recently released this information. Here are some interesting facts taken from AZ Dept. of Education report: 

  • ADM went from 859,023 in 2004 to 951,117 in 2008 a 10.7% increase. 
  • Number of Administrators went from 2,804 in 2004 to 3,305 in 2008 a 17.9% increase. 
  • Number of Classified Managers went from 2,374 in 2004 to 3,030 in 2008 a 27.6% increase. 
  • Number of Teachers went from 47,396 in 2004 to 53,883 in 2008 a 13.7% increase.  
  • Average Teacher salary went from $42,324 in 2004 to $49,331 in 2008 a 16.5% increase. 
  • Superintendents salaries went from $12,837,427 in 2004 to $19,188,361 in 2008 a 49.5% increase.  
  • Total state aid went from $3,179,994,562 in 2004 to $4,453,747,156 in 2008 a 40% increase. 

(UPDATE: References-1-
Go to volume two. Go to state report on page 268. Will say State Report at the top of page.
Go to detailed district totals. Go to last page. Will say State Report at the top of page.)

The erroneous representation is always that dollars go right to the classes.  Keep a heads up for politically driven calls for protest sent to you as parents.  I encourage all to use some of this data supplied and feel free to model a response.  You should not face propaganda from the school volunteers nor officials regarding cuts via e-mails given to the school for parent contact.  I also know that there are many really good educators making little money.  I’m one of them, but we cannot lie to each other about what has happened with over-spending and now a reality check of cuts in lean times. I submit to you a portion of my response to the e-mail for the inappropriate call to action by parents:


Mrs. __ and Parents,

 I appreciate your sentiments and the fiscal strife we all are facing.  It is a reality of the recession.  All schools, local, state, and federal budgets are being forced to cut.  We are all dealing with it every day, and I have been writing about this for months.

As a teacher and educator myself, facing no prospects next year for my planned re-entry into education, I personally feel this. Yet, I cannot attend a meeting that ends up being a protest against the cuts.  I feel they are necessary.  We spend too much time blaming each other for the reality but the fact is that no one is getting out of this unscathed.  No public nor private business can ignore this fiscal reality.

 Since this e-mail is pointedly a political call to action, I felt comfortable in returning the favor.  Tomorrow is tax day, and I will be speaking at the Tea Party being held at 5:30 pm on the Senate Lawn.  I am vehemently against the taxation but also the unrealistic views.  No one wants to step up and face this crisis. I encourage all to attend the Tea Party.

 I applaud your desire to organize and rally behind good people.  I truly do. 

But this request goes against my values and my principles.  Mrs. ___ is a personal friend; we worked together at ____. She knows I value this school and staff immensely.  But this economic downturn is not going to disappear just because we want it to go.

 Thank you for your request, and please take mine in the same vein.  We are all activating our values.  If we open school e-mail contacts to political promotion, then we also realize there is a balance to that viewpoint.



  1. What is the AZ Dept of Ed report these numbers are from? Several seem different than the Auditor General numbers which come from the Joint Legislative Audit Committee which Verschoor chairs. The report is titled “Arizona Public School Districts’ Dollars Spent in the Classroom, Fiscal Year 2008 (February 2009)” For instance teacher salary is $5,000 less in the Auditor General report than what is quoted above.

    In the Auditor General report it provides details of all district expenditures. The average is that 57.3 % of district expenditures are spent in the classroom. For non-classroom expenditures (42.7%) the expenses are as follows:

    Plan Operations (Heating and cooling, equipment repair, groundskeeping, and security) 11.3%

    Administration (Superintendents; principals; business managers; clerical and other staff who perform accounting, payroll, purchasing, warehousing, printing, human resource, and information technology services): 9.2%

    Student Support (Counselors, audiologists, speech pathologists, and nurses) : 7.4%

    Instruction Support (Librarians, teacher training, and curriculum development) : 5.4%

    Food Service (Costs of preparing and serving meals and snacks) : 4.8%

    Transportation (Costs of transporting students to and from school and school activities) : 4.4%

    Other : .2 %

    Now – the 9.2% is lower than the national average of 11%. I am curious what is the percentage of these costs in the private sector?

  2. Gayle,

    Thanks for the perspective and the great info. However, as Todd suggests, a link to the original report would be helpful. If you have it, would you mind posting the link? Thanks.

  3. Gayle,

    Still waiting to hear on that referedum of yours. You know the one that would shut down light rail? If it is such a popular idea I am sure you would not have a problem getting it on the ballot.

  4. 1) THX Lisa for the encouragement, you’re my new BFF with all of the following.I’m sure the City Manager will appreciate your helping me 🙂

    2) References are updated for this piece.

  5. Thanks for the link.

  6. “References-1-

    Well, my first problem with this is that there is no actual figure that says average teacher salary. What has been done is that the amount of all teachers salaries for the entire year has been divided by the number of full-time teachers on the last day of classes. The same is true for the other position salary figures as well.

  7. Still wondering how average salaries could be calculated correctly from the figures presented in the report. Anyone else have an idea?

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