A new school year has dawned and despite funding increases enacted by the State Legislature over the last two years, Arizona schools are still being appropriated at Pre 2008 recession levels.
This is 2019. Schools should be funded according to the economics of 2019 not 11 years ago.
Currently, Arizona is ranked 49th in the country for Elementary teacher pay and 48th for Secondary School instructors.
Earlier this summer, the Anne E. Casey Foundation placed Arizona as 46th out of the 50 states with regards to child well being.
While the legislature, sparked in large part by the Red for Ed movement, has taken positive steps, more is needed as the poor economic state of education funding for Arizona’s schools has led in part to the state being ranked third-worst in the country for education quality.
Commenting on the latest reports, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman stated that:
“If Arizona is going to move from the bottom of education ranking lists we must start by returning funding to pre-recession levels. Arizona is not regionally competitive with other western states in terms of per-pupil spending and teacher pay. Our students, teachers and schools deserve sustainable and continued investment in education in order to succeed.”
Arizona Center for Economic Progress leader (and former Arizona Democratic Leader) David Lujan relayed that:
“The 2019-2020 is beginning with Arizona’s public schools still receiving less state funding than a decade ago, many classrooms without permanent full-time teachers because of our ongoing teacher shortage crisis, and some students using textbooks and technology that are older than them. It’s wrong and it seems like the only way we will ever get the funding that our public schools need is if voters take matters into their own hands.”
2020 Democratic Legislative District 23 House Candidate Eric Kurland, running on the slogan “Time for a Teacher” offered that:
“It is the same old thing. Lawrence (LD 23 Republican Representative Jay Lawrence) is saying that they’ve taken care of education when statistics show schools are scrapping the bottom of the barrel (for funds).”
“The Majority (Republican) Party has given a family of five a personal pan pizza and now they have added pepperoni and they think they are serving up a gourmet meal.”
“This forces every school district to seek taxpayer dollars in the form of overrides. Generally, the rich communities get theirs passed, the poor communities struggle and our state constitutional mandate on K-12 education gets further and further away.”
“Education is an economic engine. One-party control of this state for the last quarter-century and they have yet to plan for the future. We find ourselves going from 32nd to 49th in funding over the last 25 years and we were 88 % of average and now we are 66%.”
No one should be satisfied with this snail-paced level of the school funding progress, especially when the Republican-led legislature has siphoned needed monies for our schools towards their favorite economic passion: tax cuts.
Arizona citizens should not rest until our schools, the institutions that help shape our children’s minds, interests, and characters, are well funded at current-year levels.
Remember the people are the ultimate power brokers that can influence their public servants to tend to the states public schools. Those who do not follow the wishes of the people may either find themselves out of a job after November 2021 or forced to abide by a new ballot initiative that mandates additional funding for public schools.
Listen to the people and fully fund the state’s public schools