The passing of Proposition 208, the Invest in Education Act, has been widely held as a victory by teachers statewide, especially at schools in low-income areas where public school funding is often slim. Teachers from these schools hope that the increase in funding will help them provide the resources that their students often desperately need.
Prop 208, which passed with a 51.76% approval, will enact an 3.50% income tax on single-filed income exceeding $250,000 and jointly filed income exceeding $500,000. This revenue will be distributed to teacher salaries and programs, career and technical education programs, and the Arizona Teachers Academy.
This funding can become a game-changer for many teachers at schools facing funding challenges. Austin Thumm, a teacher at Acclaim Academy, says that the money that will come from Prop 208 can provide new opportunities for students and teachers alike.
“I think that if Prop 208 truly does what it says it’s going to do, and the money goes directly toward funding schools and classrooms, that it could really change the way we teach and the lives of our students,” said Thumm.
Many teachers have been fighting uphill battles when it comes to finding the necessary resources for their students, often reaching into their own pockets to make up what their funding can’t.
“I know countless teachers, including myself, who are pouring out their hearts, and also pouring out resources straight from their bank accounts to make up for the lack of proper finding that we receive, especially here in Arizona,” said Thumm.
Arizona has been routinely ranked among states with the highest dropout rates, highest pupil-teacher ratio, and lowest per-pupil spending. In low-income areas like South Phoenix, these problems are often even more amplified. Jacob Kelty, a junior high math teacher at Acclaim Academy, recognizes this and the effect Prop 208 may have. Acclaim Academy is a both a Title
I and Title III school, meaning that revenue from Prop 208 can go a long way in helping students, many of whom live below the poverty line and are learning English as a second language, succeed academically.
“I think it will be good to have that money in the schools. Hopefully it will give students who attend Title I schools more resources,” said Kelty.
While there was opposition to Prop 208 and the potential of it raising price of goods in addition to income taxes, Kelty thinks that this can actually be vital for students in low-income areas.
“I feel like it (Prop 208) will raise prices of goods in general, which is necessary for these lower-income schools to provide for their students.”
Many teachers are hopeful that Prop 208 will be the start of a new chapter in the fight to secure funding for vulnerable students and know that with increased finding comes increased opportunity for students who need it the most. Like Kelty, Thumm is optimistic.
“I think Prop 208 will provide more opportunity to enrich the lives and possibilities for how to learn, and we will have a higher hope of providing a quality education to prepare them as best as we can for their future,” said Thumm.