Guest Editorial: Professor Without A Plan

By Scottsdale Pinetop

What’s David Garcia’s education plan for the state? Who knows.

With Invest in Ed off the November ballot, the fight over K-12 education funding moves to the governor’s race. Most voters know where Governor Ducey stands on education funding, highlighted mostly during the teacher walk-outs in April, where he found a solution called “20 by 2020” which provides a 20 percent boost in teacher pay over the next three years. With David Garcia, not so much.

After piggybacking on the teacher’s movement, David Garcia has named himself the “Godfather” of the #RedforED movement. An Arizona State University professor with a Ph. D. in Social Sciences for Educational Research and Policy Studies, Garcia should be the education expert. Yet, his education plans fall short of a passing grade.

Garcia staunchly opposes vouchers, school choice and charter schools. Yet, the results continue to show that charter school students outperform traditional public school students. And, hypocritically, one of his daughters attends a charter school.

This summer he gave a full endorsement to the Invest in Ed ballot measure. This means that he is not opposed to Arizona having one of highest individual income tax rates in the U.S. Similar to the “punish-the-rich” measure, Garcia’s education apparent plan would make top 1 percent and corporations pay one of the highest taxes in America to save public education in Arizona. Missing from the plan are the specifics of how much he now plans to raise taxes for these individuals or how much he proposes to increase education funding in the future.

It feels like a lot of unknowns for a substantial candidate.

Ducey’s plan? A significant increase in state funding for education in the budget, earmarking a large amount to go towards teacher pay without a tax increase. Since his actions in May towards education funding, Ducey has made two additional funding commitments. First, he has proposed an increase in state aid to fund an additional 10 percent increase in teacher pay over the next two years. Second, he is committed to restoring another funding stream called additional assistance over the next four years. While these commitments are open to criticism and debate, at least it’s a practical and achievable approach to help mend the education funding crisis.

Education is front and center in the campaign to become Arizona’s governor. But so far, Garcia’s plan would get a failing grade.