This week, staff reporter Danyelle Khmara takes a look at a vital question in front of Tucson voters this year: whether to support a half-cent sales tax to fund an investment of $50 million a year in the education of pre-schoolers. Danyelle did an outstanding job at digging into the arguments on both sides, and I hope it makes it easier for voters to decide the fate of Prop 204.
You don't have to work too hard to show me the importance of early childhood education. I've seen it at work with my own 4-year-old, who has been attending (in my humble opinion) one of the best preschools in town since before she could crawl. The kid plays well with others, loves books, has mastered arts and crafts and can count to twenty-twelve already. (OK, so maybe the numbers thing hasn't worked out perfectly yet.) The bottom line, at least for me, is that early childhood education is prepping her for success in the K-12 system.
I'm lucky beyond words to have the resources to afford the tuition, but many parents—especially single moms living in or on the edge of poverty—do not. And years ago, the Republican-led Arizona Legislature gutted state funding for childcare subsidies, so there's a long waiting list for moms who need help.
Nonetheless, Prop 204 is facing opposition not only from local Republicans and business leaders, but also from some Democrats here in town, including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and most of the Tucson City Council (with the exception of outgoing Councilwoman Karin Uhlich). There are concerns about whether there is enough accountability in the proposal, as well as worries about whether the added tax burden is too much for the city. I think the accountability concerns are misguided at best, although I can appreciate the worries about ever-increasing sales taxes. But the notion of ensuring that more kids get the opportunities that mine have is a compelling reason to vote yes. Putting them on the right path now would save a lot of money down the line.
Next week, we'll give you the lowdown on the candidates running for City Council this year.
Elsewhere in the book: With autumn in the air, it's festival time in Tucson. We've got details about Tucson Meet Yourself and the Blues Heritage Festival in our music section. Tom Danehy sets a date to talk about gun violence in his column. Mark Whittaker gives us the lowdown on the southern comfort food at Bird in Chow. Emily Dieckman tells us about the astounding number of independent film screenings in Reel Indie. Margaret Regan fills us in on what's going on with Artifact Dance Project in Arts. And there's a bunch more, including our expanded City Week section (there's a lot going on in this town!) and our new Nightcrawler column, which curates the best concerts of the week.
A final note: The gang at Rialto Theatre and Club Congress are once again doing one of my favorite charity fundraisers, the Great Cover Up. If you're not familiar, here's the gist: Local bands masquerade as national acts for a half-hour performance, and all proceeds from the door go to charity. The Great Cover Up isn't happening until December, but if you are in a band that wants to perform, you need to get rehearsing. So reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information: your band name; what type of music you normally play; your top three picks for bands/artists you'd like to cover; and a contact name, phone number and/or email address. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 21. Do it! It's the most fun you're likely to have raising money for a good cause.
— Jim Nintzel, Editor