Across the state students are going back to school but what will those schools be like? The picture isn’t all that pretty.
A recent study from a financial advice website, WalletHub, indicates that the Arizona school system is fourth worst in the nation. The website looks at 17 indicators in 50 states and Washington, DC – including the ratio of students to teachers. The study put Arizona 49th in that category. Arizona did, however, fare better than Louisiana, New Mexico and Alaska overall.
Our kids deserve better than fourth worst. This report did not appear to ruffle the feathers of anyone in the Governor’s Office. His spokesman called the study “baloney,” although he did not seem ready to dispute the findings. This is a troubling response from a governor who has still provided no indication that he has a next step after Prop. 123, although that promise is what convinced many voters to approve the stopgap measure in the first place. Our public schools need more; how much more evidence do the governor and Legislative Republicans need before they act?
Republicans assured voters this would just be the start: it would be a first step for our schools. But they’ve not seen fit to offer a second step. And 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.
Fortunately, AZ Schools Now, a growing coalition of education and community groups, has come forward with 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.
The lack of leadership and seemingly cavalier attitude about our school system coming from the Governor’s Office is not acceptable. Our kids deserve better. House Democrats will continue to be the champions of public education. We’ll stand with those fighting for our schools and we won’t settle for 48 out of 51.
Visit the AZ Schools Now Facebook page here for more information.