Taxpayers are paying more millions to Tucson Unified School District (TUSD). We can now add the millions from this month’s Omnibus Bill to the $60 million for Desegregation, and another $53 million taxpayer dollars from President Obama’s September Jobs Act.
How is all the money spent?
Last week the US Congress passed an omnibus spending bill for 2012 that includes $550 million for a program called Race to the Top 3 (RTT3). The bill allows the Department of Education (DOE) to create a district-level competition in what DOE calls “Early Learning Challenge”. (USDOE, 2011)
Jobs Act or Omnibus Bill: what’s the difference?
According to the DOE press release, RTT3 focuses on efforts to leverage comprehensive statewide reform, while improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Today, DOE announced seven states, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, will receive part of a $200 million (RTT3) fund to advance targeted K-12 reforms to improve student achievement. The winning applications include commitments to enhance data systems, raise academic standards, and improve principal and teacher support and evaluation systems, and implement school interventions in underperforming schools.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “These seven states are now among 22 Race to the Top winners spread out across the country that are investing in key education reforms to prepare more students for college and careers. Race to the Top has been a pivotal program that has generated more progress in improving our nation’s education system over the last three years than we’ve seen over the last decade.” (USDOE, 2011)
Does any of this sound familiar? It should. On September 24thPresident Obama announced he planned to send TUSD $53 million dollars in his Jobs Act. President Obama said, “As a nation, we have an obligation to make sure all children have resources they need to learn…” (Obama, 2011)
TUSD is failing the President. TUSD students test at the bottom, parents are fleeing, and the district cannot even hold serious public meetings.
TUSD is failing taxpayers. Nine TUSD schools have been vacant for many years – Richey, Jefferson Park, Duffy, Reynolds, Van Horne, Wrightstown, Fort Lowell, Rogers and Roberts. Charter schools have offered millions for some closed school sites, Basis, Sonoran Science Academy, and La Paloma Academy charter schools have been interested in five of the former campuses for $12.3 million. TUSD has agreed to “work on” leasing vacant Jefferson Park Elementary School – and “maybe” six others – to charter schools. But the TUSD Board is apparently in no hurry to close the deals.
Why should the TUSD Board hurry? Apparently there will always be more Federal money for the same unfulfilled objectives.
Obama, B. (2011). White House. American Jobs Act. Strengthening the American Education System. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/24/weekly-address-strengthening-american-education-system
U.S. DOE, (2011). Press office. Department of Education awards $200 million to seven states to advance K-12 Reform http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-education-awards-200-million-seven-states-advance-k-12-reform