The journey and quest to help bring Arizona Public Education into the Twenty-First Century is nearing the end of its current chapter.
After waiting for a little over two years, the champions for greater funding in Public Education seem to have emerged victorious with the voter approval of Proposition 208-Invest in Ed on November 3, 2020.
When the final vote is certified, Arizona Public Schools, Teachers, and Children will be the recipients, after the funding and procedural mechanisms are put in place, of an infusion of up to a billion dollars in new monies for:
- Generating about $940 million in additional funding for the state’s schools by charging a three-point five percent income tax surcharge on the families making $500,000 a year or individuals making $250,000.
- Increasing Teacher and School Support Pay (50 percent of the annual proceeds.)
- Recruiting counselors, and school support staff (25 percent of the annual funds.)
- Helping fund the Arizona Teacher Academy (three percent.)
- Annual grants for district and charter schools to develop innovative Career and College Readiness Programs like increased access to Career and Technical, Advanced Placement, International Bachelorette, and Dual Enrollment courses (12 percent.)
- A statewide teacher mentoring program where first, second, and third-year instructors are guided by a veteran teacher (ten percent.)
- Scholarships for instructors so they are not saddled with student loan debt.
Reaction among public education activists and leading Proposition 208 supporters have been universally joyful.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman stated:
“With the impending passage of Prop. 208, Arizonans have accomplished what state lawmakers could not. By voting yes on 208, our state has made an important investment in our schools and teachers. This funding could not come at a more critical time for our public schools and I am thrilled that collectively we made the right decision.”
Stacy Pearson, a Senior Vice President for Strategies 360, and Joe Thomas, the President of the Arizona Education Association, shared a press release from the Invest in Ed Campaign which read:
In a historic win, a clear majority of Arizona voters pass Proposition 208. Proposition 208 restores hundreds of millions of dollars in K-12 education funding to solve the teacher shortage crisis, lower class sizes, hire aides and counselors, and expand career and technical education.
“Arizona’s 1.2 million K-12 public education students are the big winners tonight. By passing Proposition 208, Arizona voters said yes to our state’s students and their future,’ said Amber Gould, Chairwoman of Yes on 208 – Invest in Education. “As a teacher and the Chairwoman of Yes on 208, I am incredibly grateful to everyone who voted yes on Proposition 208. Thank you for your trust and support.”
Proposition 208 was placed on the November ballot by a partnership of leading education organizations including the Arizona Education Association, Stand for Children – Arizona, The Arizona Center for Economic Progress, Valley Interfaith Project, and Children’s Action Alliance.
“Our coalition of educators, parents, and public education supporters carried the Red for Ed torch across the finish line today. By voting Yes on 208, Arizona voters made it loud and clear they want teachers to be compensated properly and have the resources needed to successfully educate their students,” said Joe Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association.
“Proposition 208 represents a much-needed change in Arizona that will create educational and economic opportunities for those who need it most. This inseparable connection was highlighted throughout our campaign’s messaging. Strong schools mean a stronger economy. Voters overwhelmingly agreed,” said Rebecca Gau, Executive Director at Stand for Children Arizona.
“Economic studies continue to show the keys to improving Arizona’s business climate and economy are increased funding for Arizona’s K-12 public education system and developing a more skilled workforce. The Invest in Education Initiative was crafted to do just that and I am proud Arizona voters agreed,” said David Lujan, Director of The Arizona Center for Economic Progress.
Dawn Penich-Thacker, the Communications Director for Save Our Schools, commented:
“This win reflects what we’ve always said: Arizonans love our public schools and they want to invest in them. Since we first formed in 2017, our statewide network of volunteers has worked tirelessly to educate voters about the funding crisis facing our public schools and the importance of building strong public schools to grow a stronger Arizona. There’s a lot more to do, but this win is a major step toward finally doing right by Arizona kids, families, and communities.”
David Lujan of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress wrote:
“It is exciting! This will be the largest investment to public education in Arizona in more than two decades. It is a testament to the perseverance of teachers, parents and advocates across the state who are committed to providing Arizona’s students with the resources they deserve and need to receive a quality education. This is a win for Arizona’s workforce and our economy.”
A New Age in Arizona Public Education is Dawning.
Arizona’s Children, Teachers, and Public Schools are on the verge of receiving the benefit of the people’s wisdom at the ballot box.
Thank God for the Citizens Initiative Process.
Thank God for Democracy.