by Patrick O’Malley
Precinct Committeeman LD12
On Monday July 21, 2014 Barry Young was out and the substitute host on KFYI’s Nearly Famous Barry Young show was Barry Markson. This was not a surprise. The surprise was that Monday was "beat-up-John Kavanagh-on-education day." Not just for a minute or two, this went on for 30 minutes, and there was a special surprise guest.
John Kavanagh is a strong conservative Republican Representative from LD23 and the head of the House Appropriations Committee. He has been a champion of quality education in Arizona. This year he’s running for the State Senate for LD23. Markson didn’t directly quote John Kavanagh on education, but "paraphrased" his statements. These included “we’re still giving education too much money” and “lots of kids are too stupid to go to college.”
Then he launched on the majority of the Legislature, especially the part he calls “the whacko fringe” for failing to follow the State Constitution Article 11 Section 6 regarding the universities where he missed the part where it says “the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible.” He also referred to the court case (Kromko vs AZ Regents) where it was determined that the Legislature gets to decide what nearly free as possible means, but he disagrees with that decision. Therefore, according to Markson’s wisdom, the Legislature is not following the Constitution.
I lost track of how many times he called out John Kavanagh by name and blamed him for raising the price of tuition at four year schools by underfunding education. He didn’t call out anybody else by name.
Markson seems to be out of touch with higher education. First he believes automotive technicians are ready to start work when they graduate from high school. Apparently he’s not aware of the two year programs at community colleges to prepare them for entry level jobs and the need for ASE certification to rise in the business.
He also said lack of funding would return us to the system of the 70’s when only those whose parents had gone to college were able to afford college, and it would be Kavanagh’s fault. I went to college in the 70’s, and I don’t recognize Markson’s description of the world. My classmates and I paid our way with part time jobs and some small student loans. About half of us were the first in our families to go to college.
About twenty minutes into his rant Barry Markson took one, and only one, phone call on the subject. Just by coincidence it turned out to be Mark Killian, Chairman of the Board of Regents. After agreeing that John Kavanagh is just horrible for education, they went on to agree that the Legislature is just horrible on education.
Mr. Killian stated that the Board of Regents has challenged the University of Arizona to become the best medical school in the USA, ASU to become a top ranked engineering and science research center, and NAU to become highly ranked like Boise State. All impressive goals, but who is paying for it, and how does it impact that “as nearly free as possible” statement in the Constitution? Apparently it’s the Board of Regent’s job to set the goals and the Legislature’s job to pay the bills. They have some doubts about whether the Legislature will see it their way, because they are planning an initiative on the 2016 ballot to make it happen.
I don’t know why Barry Markson spent so much time and energy using KFYI’s bully pulpit attacking John Kavanagh specifically. It is his district. Maybe he just supports a different candidate.
For anybody who wants to download the podcast of the show, the education portion is from about 1:01:00 to 1:27:00.