Arizona competes for ‘worst in the nation’ in support of public education


The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports that a new U.S. Census Bureau Survey says Arizona is dead last in state support for K-12:

GarrisonKeillorA new report from the U.S. Census Bureau (.pdf) affirmed public school advocates’ lament that Arizona is near or at the bottom among the states when it to comes K-12 funding.

The report, which uses fiscal 2013 figures, shows that Arizona spends $7,208 per pupil. In comparison, the US on average allocates $10,700 per pupil.

Arizona lags behind on every major spending breakdown, including wages and benefits, and support services, the report says.

It gets worse: Arizona is No. 48 among the states when it comes to K-12 revenues, and dead last when it comes to spending.

The figures include revenues from all sources, but a breakdown shows that in fiscal 2013, the money available from the state was only $3,116 per student, which puts Arizona at No. 50.

School finance expert Chuck Essigs noted that Arizona hovers near the middle when it comes to raising revenues from local sources, and ranks No. 18 insofar as federal education dollars.

It’s the level of state support that is pulling Arizona’s numbers down, he said.

“They use the argument that we had tough economic times, but so did a lot of the other states,” Essigs said.

There is a difference between which state is “worst” for student support and for per-student spending. The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that Utah is dead last in spending. We’re No. 51: Utah last again for per-student spending:

Utah public school students still get the smallest chunk of government education funding in the country.

A report released by the U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday ranked the state’s 2013 per-student spending — $6,555 a year — at the bottom of the heap for U.S. states.

The analysis found that per-student spending increased by nearly 1 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2013, to an average of $10,700.

But Utah’s per-student funding earned a ranking of 51st — behind all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

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However, the state can brag about its effort to increase school spending. Between 2012 and 2013, Utah schools marked the largest percentage gain in per-pupil funding — 5.6 percent.

Competing to be the worst in the nation should never be the goal of education policy. Arizona’s lawless Tea-Publican legislature and governor are in direct violation of the Arizona Constitution in its effort to claim the title of “worst in the nation.”


  1. Yes, the financing of schools in Arizona is bad. But why is it that when Ducey starts an effort to increase funding by increasing the percentage of state land fund money going to education, all I hear from this collective chorus is catcalls of condemnation, belittlement, and cries of “too little, too late”? Instead of speaking in positive terms about a positive step in the right direction, you all cannot look beyond your politics and you continue with the name calling and condemnation.

    There are a lot of Republicans like me who want to see more money going into education. But it isn’t going to happen overnight. Instead of condemning anything not invented by a Democrat, try just acknowledging any sucess for what it is.

  2. That is why arizona is called mississippi west! But the arizona democratic party enables this to happen by not fighting back.

  3. Beware of any word “reform” in regard school finance, as smoke and mirrors are likely to give the illusion of “more money in the classroom”, when it really just rearranges the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

  4. Yes… let’s all keep this in mind when Ducey shares ALEC’S, I mean “his” ideas today about school funding. So far, taking taxpayer money for private and charter schools has worked swimmingly, wouldn’t you say? (Yes. Snark)

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