Last week, speaking to the Payson Tea Party, State Representative Brenda Barton announced her position on two policies that critically affect all of us in Arizona.
The first had to do with Child Protective Services, which the Legislature has severely understaffed and underfunded for years. The Legislature’s abandonment of constitutional responsibility to protect children resulted in 6,500 children being left unprotected from possible abuse or neglect.
As a member of the Legislature, Barton has to acknowledge that she had a hand in that. Likewise Bob Thorpe and Chester Crandell who represent our area.
Now as public outcries are forcing her and the other legislators to correct their dereliction of duty, the debate is over sufficient funding for professional staff at CPS. Barton said that she wants the money to be taken from other children’s programs that were specifically dedicated by referendum to early childhood education.
That’s like trying to trim the cost of running a railroad by transferring funds for the care and maintenance of engines to embellishing cabooses. What kind of solution is that? By referendum the people of Arizona dedicated the “First Things First” funds exclusively for early and other levels of children’s education.
Barton needs to respect the Constitution and the mandates of the electorate and stop playing roulette with the welfare of children.
Barton justified her position by saying essentially, “I read an article once which said that among third-graders there was no difference in the education achievement of students who had attended pre-school from those who had not done so.”
This preposterous statement reveals a deep level of ignorance regarding the overwhelming documentation that early childhood education is the single most important factor in determining the future educational and later economic success of children.
To make things worse, two members of the Tea Party who were present also serve on the Payson School Board: Shirley Dye and Barbara Underwood.
Neither one of them spoke up to indicate how wildly misinformed Barton is about educational policies. What were they thinking? Or are these school board members themselves not willing to go to bat for children?
The second position announced by Barton is that she favors electing U.S. senators by politicians instead of by the people at large. She said that being accountable to the Legislature rather than directly to the citizens would better represent the interests of the state. Right! Take the vote away from the people, give it to the politicians, and we will get better government in Washington!
These radical positions advocated by Tea Party proponents like Barton are based on ignorance and a willingness to override the will of the citizens.
Come on, people, let’s get somebody in government who is intelligent, who works for real solutions, and who listens to the voices of the people. We don’t need officials who are so radical in believing that violating the Constitution and ignoring the will of the voters is good for all of us.
Editor’s note: Barbara Underwood and Shirley Dye both asked questions indicating their support for restoring funding for education, including all-day kindergarten. During the Tea Party speech, Rep. Barton supported a measure that would enable the state Legislature to put on the ballot a candidate for U.S. senator, who would still need to get elected statewide — perhaps in competition with candidates nominated by the political parties.