Friday, September 4, 2015
To: Richard Zimmermann, Mineral Museum Madness Blog
I have followed your blog since it began, and have to compliment you on your tenacious research on the Arizona Historical Society and its total disservice to our state over the botched Centennial mess. At this point you obviously understand AHS better than they do, and despite the new President of the Board attempting to defend and explain their actions, we still don’t have the truth. Your recent focus on the funding redundancy in favor of AZ History in our state is well taken and a legislative fix is long overdue.
As an educator, I am amazed at the hopeless imbalance in state funding for AZ history vs. science education for our students. The state of AZ funds the state history archives and the excellent history museum at the state capitol. This costs about $8 million a year. As you have outlined, the state also pours $3+ million into the AHS, plus the millions embedded in the Department of Administration which manages state buildings, including all of the ones assigned to AHS. If you can get accurate statistics from the state, the amount spent on history is very high. As an educator I am not against history, but when AZ ranks at the bottom of the states in education, we have to be realistic—AZ history is not on any national tests for our students. Compare this to the amount of funding our state gives state agencies for science education. The only state science agency that I found is the AZ Geological Survey, and they get only about 10% of their budget ($915,000), the rest they fund themselves. Science is a big problem area for AZ educationally, and it is on national tests. AZ had one Earth Science Museum (the popular Mining and Mineral Museum) which occupied one state building dedicated by the legislature as its permanent home and had only one state paid employee (the curator). This group funded all other positions by itself. This successful scientific effort was given to the non-scientific AHS and was shut down to celebrate the Centennial. The building is empty and our governor vetoed the mineral museum restoration bill (SB1200) that passed almost unanimously in both houses of the legislature—AHS appears to want the building for a reception center for lobbyists. WE HAVE TO GET OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT IN ARIZONA IF WE EXPECT TO COMPETE EDUCATIONALLY.
I want to urge you and all those who supported the legislators who want the MMM reinstated under true scientific management to go back and try again. Your case is too strong to let politics and lobbyists rob our students. Since the state is now requiring students to pass a civics test, perhaps AHS could redirect its educational efforts to helping schools in this area, and let science to the scientists.
I prefer to remain anonymous, as educational funding is a hot issue and districts and institutions have had some backlash.