Are you as tired and frustrated as we are at seeing Arizona ranked at or near the bottom on state rankings of education and the well-being of its children?
First Things First was supported by the voters of Arizona in 2006 to provide the opportunity for high quality early education and to give all children the opportunity to start school healthy and ready to succeed.
Funded by a tax on tobacco, to date, First Things First has allocated about $300 million for educational and health services for children in Arizona. Services funded by First Things First have touched the lives of more than 330,000 of Arizona’s youngest children — that’s more than half of the children five and under in the state!
Decisions about how to spend these dollars are made by local citizen councils because they know what is best for the youngest children in their community. And since First Things First is funded exclusively through voter-protected tobacco tax revenues, it does not contribute to the state budget deficit.
The four of us, together, have over 100 years of experience in Arizona working with children and families in the education, medical, and mental health services arenas. We know firsthand how important First Things First is to children across the state. It is one of the few remaining resources in Arizona that promotes excellent early education and health.
Our legislature has failed miserably to understand the importance of funding early childhood education programs. That is why the voters decided to fund children’s programs with a dedicated tax on cigarettes. Now a majority of members of the state legislature want to dismantle this successful program and place this money in a general fund.
Don’t let the legislature undo the significant progress we are achieving — please vote NO on Proposition 302. Learn more at www. no302.com.
Thank you on behalf of the young children of Arizona.
Eric E. Schindler, Ph.D., is president and CEO of Child and Family Resources, Inc. Andrea Schindler, D.O., is a family practice physician. Herschel Rosenzweig, M.D., is a child and adolescent psychiatrist in private practice. Jill Rosenzweig, Ed.D., former director of the Tucson Jewish Community Center’s early childhood education program, is early childhood program coordinator for the Office of the Pima County School Superintendent. She is a member of the North Pima Regional Partnership Council of First Things First.