Phoenix DSA Statement on Invest in Ed
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
In 2018 educators, students, and school staff united in the mass Red for Ed movement and flexed their collective muscle, quickly winning big concessions like a 20% raise. That victory helped pull Arizona from near the bottom to near the middle of the country in terms of education funding, but more than two years after the wave of teacher strikes our schools are still criminally underfunded. However, another substantial reform is now within reach: After a ruling from the Arizona Supreme Court, the Invest-in-Ed ballot initiative (Prop 208) is back on the ballot for November’s elections! This is a major opportunity to transfer an estimated $940 million dollars per year from Arizona’s 1%ers to our education system, a big step towards having safe schools, better working conditions for educators, and better learning conditions for our students. Invest in Ed was designed to restore education funding to the levels seen before the capitalist crisis of 2008, after which we saw education slashed as both parties of big business, Republican and Democrat, made the working class pay for the crisis instead of holding the billionaires that triggered it accountable. As such, winning Invest in Ed would be a big step but not the only one we need to have truly sufficient funding for schools--especially with the added strain of trying to reopen safely during a pandemic. We need that money not only to treat school staff with respect and improve their pay, but also to reopen schools safely at all!
In mid September, Phoenix DSA resolved to join the Invest in Ed campaign for a Yes vote on Prop 208. For socialists, this is not about stabilizing the capitalist economy through smarter public management, but about winning a reform needed by the 99% and making the 1% pay for it. We know that this fight is a direct threat to capitalist profits, because there is a direct conflict between their profits and our wellbeing. Alongside this central push to vote yes on prop 208, we seek to connect the fight to other organically linked struggles, like the fight for safe schools, but also the BLM uprising--we need money for jobs and education, not police and prisons! Arizona has the worst student-to-counselor ratio in the country, almost a thousand to one, which is a major threat to the health and safety of students. To fight for quality schools and against police oppression at once, we call for “Counselors Not Cops!” in our schools. We will need the money from prop 208 to accomplish this, along with what we can take from the police budget (which is over half the budget in the city of Phoenix!). We support the calls to defund the police by at least 25% and use that money to support communities, especially communities of color, which see even lower levels of education funding than the rest of Arizona. We recognize that all these fights are connected because we are all part of the same working class, facing attacks by the capitalist class and their representatives in the state. Because of this, we need to unite all sections in our struggle against the billionaires to be successful. When teachers and school staff strike, or when students are expected to learn virtually in order to stay safe, having children at home can be an added strain on working parents. This implies that an immediate need in this fight is to simultaneously organize for and demand free and universal childcare for all! Phoenix DSA will fight for this demand alongside the others, and we call on the big educator unions like AEA to recognize all these connections and broaden the campaign for Invest in Ed into one which includes a vigorous fight for safe schools, defunding the police to invest in communities, counselors not cops, and universal childcare, in order to break down all barriers to unified public support of educators and school staff in their fight for safe and well-funded schools. We encourage all DSA members who are part of an educator union to organize together and form a rank-and-file socialist caucus within the union which can push union leadership to take all necessary steps to succeed! Phoenix DSA stands with all working people, their families and communities, against all forms of oppression and against the brutal capitalist state. Knowing that the fight will not be over until we overcome capitalist social relations entirely, socialists fight for every partial reform winnable under capitalism as we organize for the bigger fight ahead to overthrow the capitalist class and take the economy under democratic control. In the fight to Invest in Ed and all related struggles, we pledge our full support!