My Open Letter to Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey, “I Am Arizona”

Governor Ducey,

You don’t know me, you’ve never had a reason to know me, but you should.  I’d like to tell you that you should know me because of my awesome personality, incredible intelligence, or even because I make a mean rhubarb pie, but truth be told none of those really apply to me.  You should know me though, because I am Arizona.

I was born at Phoenix Baptist Hospital in the scolding summer of 1983.  In 1985 my parents, both transplants from the mid-west, bought a modest, humble home in the farming community of Peoria, Arizona long before “spring training” and other venues even put Peoria on the map.

In 1997, I graduated from the elementary school I spent 9 years (Kindergarten through Junior High) attending.  I didn’t know it then, but the education I received from educators I didn’t yet realize how lucky I was to have prepared me for the world I live in today.  They prepared me to write this letter to you and they instilled in me the courage to stand up for what I know is right.

I am Arizona.

In 2001, I graduated from high school again in Peoria, Arizona.  I went on to attend Glendale Community College and Arizona State University unsure of what exactly it is I wanted to do in life.  As the child of parents with “blue-collar” careers, they instilled in me a great work ethic, but desired I achieve an education neither one of them had the opportunity to pursue.

In 2002, I purchased my first piece of property in El Mirage, Arizona.  It was a brand new home and the first piece of land I purchased.  I loved that house.  I sold it in 2005 during the real estate bubble while working as a Quality Assurance Analyst in Mesa, AZ.

In 2005 I bought my second home in Tempe, Arizona, again during the real estate boom.  I was certain I’d make just as big of a profit on this second home as I did my first, that I disregarded the somewhat shady terms of my 80/20 interest only loan the bank assured me I’d be refinancing with absurd amounts of equity in two years.  Then the bottom fell out.  I no longer own that home now, I was hit hard by my own ignorance and the greed of shady mortgage officers.  But much like the state that raised me, I bounced back.

I am Arizona.

In 2009, I married my husband who is also a Phoenix, Arizona native.  We bought our modest home in Laveen, Arizona together and he graduated from Arizona State University.  I continued to work as a Regional Manager in Telecom and we began our “American Dream”.

In 2011, we brought home our daughter through domestic infant adoption, she too was born in Phoenix.  Shortly thereafter, I left my professional role to be a stay at home mother to my daughter and our family adjusted to being a single income family while my husband pursued his career in finance with a locally owned construction company.

I am Arizona.

In present day, my daughter is now 4 years old and Kindergarten is on the forefront of our minds.  Having watched the education system decline rapidly over the last ten years, we realize public education isn’t an option for our daughter as she won’t receive the quality education both my husband and I received.  I worry about how I’ll be able to give my daughter the education she deserves as a single income family in a state where public education seems to diminishing the minute.

As I began thinking about my daughter starting elementary school, I realized it was also time for me to return to school to attain my long sought after Bachelor’s Degree.  After a successful business career, I decided my heart was no longer there, and enrolled the concurrent enrollment program through the Maricopa Community College Program and Northern Arizona State University to obtain my BSN-RN.  I began my program in August 2015 and obtained a 4.0 GPA my first semester back as a 31-year-old college student.

Now, with my nursing degree in grasp, I worry how I’ll be able to pay for my increasing college education as you propose to cut funding from the community colleges in this state.  Furthermore, I find it impossible to see how I can fund my own education while funding my child’s.  Obtaining my BSN-RN not only benefits myself and my family, but it benefits my community.

I am Arizona.

My husband recently achieved his CCIFP (Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional) and was given approval by the locally owned construction company he works for to pursue his CPA.   As a member of his local CFMA chapter, he is avidly involved in the construction community  that forms the backbone of this state’s economy as well as improving the community he lives in.

He is Arizona.

Between my husband and I we have over 50 family members in the valley, not including friends.  We are rooted in Arizona, having spent a combined total of over 60+ years here.  And now, because of the floundering education system, we find ourselves realizing that maybe Arizona is not our forever home.  Between sky rocketing college education costs for me due to looming budget cuts and funding a private education for my daughter as public education is no longer suitable the numbers simply don’t work for our family.

Furthermore, I am down right scared to think about the future of this state where public institutions already considered rock bottom (as in, lowest in the country) continue to fall coupled with unobtainable higher education.  What kind of Arizona are we breeding?  Do you, Governor Ducey, and our legislature hope to breed a new Arizona of uneducated people?

In your first 90 days as Governor, your commitment to education has become crystal clear, and if you’ve torn it apart this much in 90 days, I don’t know that my family (or my pocketbook) can survive another 3 years and 256 days.

I urge you to review the Constitution of this great state, the Constitution you swore to uphold on January 6th, 2015.  It states, and I quote:

“The legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.”

and

“The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible.”

Please consider this my letter of intent to vacate the state that has been my home for over 30 years.  The state I grew up in, the state that holds my family, my friends, the people I love and hold most dear to me.  You see Governor Ducey I’ve realized that I no longer am Arizona.

Sincerely,

JT

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