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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Take action in war on education

It’s official, the state Legislature has declared war on education. Last week, the Arizona Senate proposed its budget, which includes a $235 million cut to higher education and a $250 million cut to K-12 education. If that figure remains intact, students can expect tuition and fees to rise by more than 22 percent. Once more, the Legislature has chosen to balance the budget on the backs of students, claiming there to be large amounts of waste in the system. Unfortunately, those of us that don’t suffer from amnesia know that education funding has been repeatedly cut for the past several years, leaving very little fat left to trim. Worst of all, our legislators continue to get away with it. So, it’s time for those who see the value of a good education to begin fighting back.

Every time the Legislature proposes cuts to the education system, organizations like the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and the Arizona Students’ Association organize large rallies on campus and at the Capitol to try to persuade members of the Legislature to cut less. These organizations work nonstop, lobbying legislators and speaking with allies in the community. However, despite the efforts put forth and success they have had in the past, it still isn’t enough. Something more drastic needs to be done to show the Legislature that Arizonans will not continue to put up with this constant devaluing of education.  

Unfortunately, picket signs on the Capitol grounds don’t seem to have an effect on members of the Republican caucus or the general public. So this begs the question, what can be done?

Forgive me for sounding like a 1960s radical, but it’s time for some good old civil disobedience. Perhaps we could learn from the protesters in Wisconsin and stage a sit-in inside the Capitol building, or even in one of the buildings on campus (students at the University of California, Berkeley did it in 2009). The truth is that something must be done to show the Legislature that we’re fed up. It’s clear they couldn’t care less what students think, but an act like that would certainly draw a significant amount of attention. Keep in mind that protesters in Wisconsin may not have prevented the budget from being passed, but they ended the fight with public opinion on their side.

We can’t forget K-12 education either. For too long K-12 teachers have been undervalued, underpaid and under-appreciated. Maybe a large group of teachers should walk off the job one day to show exactly how vital to society they actually are.

Unfortunately there are no other options left. We’ve tried huge protests on campus and at the Capitol. They get one day’s news coverage and are then forgotten. It’s time to stand up for our rights as students, and yes, we do have rights. After all, in our state’s constitution it explicitly states that a college education should be “”as nearly free as possible.”” There may be nothing we can do to prevent this bill from passing, but with a bold move such as this, maybe the public will be more apt to remember education next time they’re voting for their state legislators.

There’s a good chance that if significant attention is drawn to this issue, that public opinion will be on the side of education. Remember that just last year voters approved a tax increase to prevent further cuts to the education system. Also keep in mind that one of the main reasons Janet Napolitano was elected in both 2002 and 2006 was her strong stance on education.

This isn’t something that can be led by ASUA or ASA. All nonviolent, nondestructive options are on the table. The message must be heard that students will no longer put up with consistently being spit on by members of the Legislature.

— Andrew Shepherd is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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