Another headline that Republicans should be ashamed of – a new report from the U.S. Department of Education shows that Arizona has been spending more on inmates than on students for about 30 years.
In fact, Arizona spent only $3,573 per student in K-12 schools but invested $23,441 for every inmate in 2015. This seems to be more evidence that Republican leadership in Arizona is more focused on incarceration than on education.
Even after voters approved Prop. 123, ensuring that public schools get some of the money Republicans illegally withheld from them, the money being distributed to schools will not be enough to pull per pupil spending in Arizona up from the bottom of the barrel nationally. It will still leave schools short $1.2 billion each year. And it will do very little to bridge the enormous gap between student and prisoner funding. The governor has promised over and over again that Prop. 123 was a first step, but he’s failed to offer any information about what his next step is.
Despite the governor’s lack of leadership, AZ Schools Now, a growing coalition of education and community groups, is calling for a long-term, sustainable revenue plan for education that will focus on three key areas:
- Restoring funding for classroom supplies, updated technology and textbooks. This would require restoring district additional assistance.
- Sustaining a workforce of quality, certified and caring teachers in the classroom by investing in competitive salaries and professional development.
- Restoring capital funding to give our students schools and classrooms that are safe, clean and functional places to learn.