Friday, September 4, 2015

Guest Post

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.


  1. We really need the return of the Mining and Mineral Museum--it should never have been ripped away from AZ students. The dedicated staff were funding themselves except for one position--what a deal! Just keep in mind how far behind AZ is in science--our Aims standards have not been updated since 2005!!

  2. Hard to believe that one little State of Arizona agency could cause so much trouble. They have so few visitors and impact what made them think they could pull this mess off. Who gave them the power to do this?

    1. It wasn't their own Board of Directors. They never even voted on this or the Rio Nuevo mess a while back. Time to remove museum directors who have the arrogance to even think they can do this stuff with taxpayers money.

    2. This whole mess started with coveting the MMM building for the Centennial. It involved a Governor who wanted to give AZ a birthday gift but didn't have the money, and the AHS director, without board approval, who got the MMM put under the AHS instead of AGS where it really belonged. It only took 10 months for AHS to destroy the successful MMM. The closure was unnecessary and illegal, as they had not raised the money, and they participated in the statutes that protected the MMM and the Governor signed the bill. Neither party abided by that statute. Clearly they took power and were not stopped. The building is still empty.

    3. Let's just say who that was for the public record/ Dr. Ann Woosley and Assistant Director of AHS Bill Ponder.