Proposition 208: The Invest in Education Act has passed in Arizona and teachers at charter schools across greater Phoenix said that funding from the proposition will allow for better resources in their classrooms and more staff members to eliminate the problem of understaffing within their schools.
Teachers at charter schools said that funding from the proposition could help their schools hire more teachers, pay their other staff members, and provide more resources for their students including mental health resources.
Prop 208 is a bill that increases funding for public education by charging a 3.5% tax surcharge on annual incomes over $250,000 for single persons or married persons filing separately, or $500,000 for married persons filing jointly or heads of households, according to the Secretary of State Office’s website.
Funding from the proposition will go to hiring teachers, support services for students, and mentoring for new teachers.
This bill will not only include funds for public schools, but also career technical education districts, state schools for the deaf and blind, and charter schools across the state.
Stephanie Carrico, the Visual Arts Department Head and a photography and visual art teacher at Metropolitan Arts Institute, a charter school in Downtown Phoenix said she hopes the funding will go to the teachers so they can better serve their students. Metro Arts is a college prep art school focus on academia and art for grades 7th-12th.
Currently, Carrico does not have a preparation period, which is usually used as a time for teachers to prepare for their classes.
“Hopefully with more funding Metro could hire more teachers so teachers wouldn’t have to go without a prep,” Carrico said.
Carrico also said that the funding could allow for the school to provide mental health resources to its students. “Also, it’d be nice if Metro could hire a counselor,” said Carrico.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic students are facing a drastically different learning environment and need passionate and qualified teachers in schools now more than ever. Carrico said that Prop 208 could bring qualified teachers to the education field in Arizona.
“Teachers are underpaid all across Arizona so a pay increase would help retain good teachers and create an incentive for people to want to become teachers,” Carrico said.
Shannon Castle, a 5th grade teacher at Archway Trivium East in Goodyear, said that she is hopeful that the funding from Prop 208 will go to resources for her classroom.
“The fact that teachers spend hundreds of dollars funding their classrooms has become normal and that I believe is sad,” Castle said, “I’d prefer to have a fully funded classroom over a bigger paycheck.”
Castle also said that Prop 208 could also help pay the janitors at her school, who have started working overtime to comply with the new COIVID-19 protocols that’s have been in place at her school.
“Prop 208 is also going to help with paying the janitors who are keeping our school safe and clean and keeping them open for students to be educated,” Castle said.
Castle said she thinks that the issue of funding for education is not new and that in her experience dedicated teachers are leaving the profession because they feel they do not have the proper resources to support their students.
“Teaching is a profession that creates all other professions. We wouldn’t have nurses, doctors, scientists etc. without a teacher teaching them. And we get taxed for random stuff all the time so to have prop 208 pass is a tax that actually matters,” Castle said.
In contrast, Mr. Michael Austin, the Dean of Academics at Veritas Predatory Academy, a charter school in Acarida said, “Veritas Prep does not have a position on Prop 208.” The school provided no further information.
Carrico and Castle are optimistic about Prop 208 and are pleased to see it pass, but they said they know this is not the end of their fight and acknowledge how far they have to come in regard funding for classrooms and the teachers.
“I think it’s really sad that teachers have to fight tooth and nail to be considered professionals in the work force and I get frustrated when the appreciation is so minimal for teachers,” Castle said.