Everyone has a right to a quality education
In Arizona last year 1 in 5 classrooms were without a teacher at the beginning of last school year.1 By December, 866 teachers quit2 – making more of classrooms void certified teachers. With empty classrooms across our state, we are not providing the quality education every student deserves. In addition to vacant classrooms, over 3,000 teaching positions were filled by people who did not pass Arizona’s tests required for teachers – or in some cases teachers had not obtained bachelor’s degrees.3 Even the teachers that are in our classrooms are leaving at a staggering rate. Since 2013, 42% of Arizona’s teachers left three years of fewer after being hired.4 Many of our teachers in the classrooms are new to the profession – over one third of them have been in the classroom four years or fewer.5 It takes many teachers six years to reach professional maturity,6 yet many of our teachers are not yet at this benchmark for professional maturity – and many will never get close to achieving their fullest potential. Arizona must do better to make sure certified teachers are in, and stay, every classroom to ensure that every student has the quality education they deserve.
Schools in Arizona need better funding to improve the learning conditions of students and the working conditions of teachers. Arizona ranks 49th out of the 50 states in elementary school teacher pay and those teachers can move to New Mexico where the median salary is over $14,000 greater.7 Not only is our pay significantly less than our neighbors, our salaries have decreased. Between 2001 and 2016 elementary school teachers are paid 11% less on average, after adjusting for inflation.8Teacher pay isn’t the way for districts to use additional and necessary funds, but it will help keep Arizona competitive for teachers to stay or move to our great state. By making pay more competitive for Arizona’s teachers we can help stem the tide of educators leaving classrooms. School leaders believe that in addition to increased salaries we should work to decrease teacher workload, and increasing support to teachers, especially those early in their career.9 Only 39% of Arizona’s teachers believe their class sizes are appropriate10 so districts could use additional funding to hire more teachers and decrease class size. By providing more financial support from the state and flexibility for local districts to spend as they see fit will allow for innovation that addresses the needs of local schools.
The consequences of having an underfunded education system go beyond having vacant teaching positions and large class sizes for our students. In Arizona, 22% of students that began high school in the 2011-2012 school did not graduate on time, creating a predicted economic loss to Arizona of $9.2 billion dollars over the course of their working lives.11 These students that have not completed high school will earn less in their lifetimes and need more social services. Preventing this need with additional funding in education for additional support and earlier interventions before a student drops out is key to making more progress for our state.
Students with disabilities frequently have an even lower graduation rate. In 2016, Arizona’s graduation rate was 80% for all students, but 69% for students with disabilities.12 Even more alarming – the graduation rate for children in foster care was 33% in 2013, over 40% below Arizona’s total graduation rate.13 The students that need the most support to ensure a strong future are being shortchanged in our schools. School leaders across Arizona identified the hardest teaching jobs to fill are Special Education jobs and our state should be doing more to support these administrators fill these positions and provide adequate funding to make education a more desirable career.
A lack of funding hasn’t just kept our classrooms vacant and led our students to underperform. Funding issues may have also contributed to the crisis of lead in our local school districts. At least three different school districts in LD24, Osborn Elementary School, Creighton Elementary School and Scottsdale Unified, all had schools test positive for lead in their water in a recent analysis from the state.14 There is no safe levels of lead in water for children15 and this problem is unacceptable for any family in Arizona. If our schools were adequately funded, districts would have more resources to allocate to maintain and upgrade schools.
Districts in Arizona have been receiving about 15% of what they were told they would receive in money for capital improvements like textbooks, buses and school computers.16 This underfunding has come at the same time that Arizona has required state tests to be given online. We are underfunding our schools, requiring schools to do more with less.
What I will fight for:
• Additional funding for schools to use to increase salaries, decrease class sizes, provide additional support for students through counselors or additional special education staff as local schools see fit
• A continuation of monitoring and funding to eliminate any concerns of lead in any of our schools – especially those schools in our neighborhoods
• A restoration of capital funds (District Additional Assistance) to appropriately funded levels
Expand Access to Early Childhood Education & Early Childhood Programs
Early childhood education can help prepare children for the rest of their lives. Every dollar invested in high quality early childhood education can yield returns between $4 and $16.17 Students in Head Start programs have reduced obesity at 12 and 13, reduced depression and obesity at 16 and 17 and lower crime at ages 20 and 21 than their peers who were not in Head Start.18 Many of Arizona’s children unfortunately will not be reaping the many benefits of early childhood education because only 21% of eligible children were enrolled in early childhood programs last August.19 As students enter Kindergarten, their education continues to be underfunded. Arizona has not had a fully funded, state run full day kindergarten program for years.20 We must increase funding to our early childhood programs so every family in Arizona has access to high quality, life changing, early childhood education.
Arizona can also promote other interventions that are easily accessible and low cost, such as promoting infant sign language. When an infant is able to communicate before they can talk, children have better language skills than those that did not learn sign language.21 These benefits last beyond learning a language – children that learn to sign are have a verbal IQ 12 points higher on average at age 8 than children that did not learn sign language.22 First Things First supports early education programs across the state, including early sign language at the Phoenix Public Library. Amplifying this work and allowing more children access will provide benefits for generations of Arizonans. Not every way to improve Arizona’s future is costly – we can improve our future by providing more information and low cost programs, like infant sign language, families can implement on their own.
What I will fight for:
• Improved access for high quality early childhood education
• Programming and partnerships that promote early childhood education, at a low cost
Expand access to Higher Education
In 2016, 25% of jobs required a bachelor’s degree or a higher level of education in the United States.23 This number is projected to increase to 35% of all job openings by 2020.24 Arizona’s economy must be prepared for this change to ensure we are competitive in the future. Yet, our state legislature has decreased funding for higher education. Over the past decade, funding has decreased by 53.8%, the largest reduction of spending on higher education in the country.25 While state support has decreased, published tuition at Arizona’s universities has increased more than 60%.26 These changes are making higher education unaffordable for Arizonans. This past year, the Legislature allocated $10 million in desperately needed funding for higher education, but $2 million was earmarked for use at “freedom schools” backed by organizations like the Charles Koch Foundation – even though Arizona State University and the University of Arizona did not ask for additional funding for these schools.27 Increased funding should be used to keep tuition affordable for every student in Arizona, not serve special interests.
Community colleges are one of the greatest tools we have to promote equity for our citizens, but Maricopa and Pima County Community Colleges have not received any state aid since fiscal year 2015,28 including the most recent budget signed by Governor Ducey.29 About 30% of students who intend to transfer to a university do from Maricopa Community College.30 Our students should be more successful and provided with the supports they need to transfer if that is their goal. State funding for Maricopa Community Colleges will allow them to better address these student needs and ensure improved student outcomes.
Community colleges also promote workforce training. Maricopa Community Colleges offer credit programs in 95% of the jobs that are predicted to have the highest increase in Phoenix over the next 10 years.31 Every dollar taxpayers spend on community colleges provides a return of $6.80 in benefits – an average rate of return of 14.3%.32 Funding our community colleges is a strong investment in our future. Arizona will be have better educated citizens and a more prosperous economy.
What I will fight for:
• Increased funding for our universities, without earmarking it for special interest groups’ pet projects in our schools
• Funding for Maricopa Community College
Transparency in Charter Schools
Charter Schools in Arizona taught 16% of Arizona’s students in the 2016-2017 school year, but received 27% of the state’s education funding.33 Charters were paid more than $1,300 extra per student from state funds than district schools.34 Even though charters have more money they pay their teachers less35 and spend twice as much per student on administrative costs.36 Since these schools receive public money, charter schools must be held to the same standards as their district school counterparts.
This is not the case in Arizona today. Charter schools only have to share low school letter grades with current families – but districts have to tell everyone that lives in the attendance boundaries.37 The ACLU examined the policies of 471 charter schools in Arizona in December 2017 and at least 56% of these schools had policies that were either clear violations of the law or discouraged enrollment of certain students.38 Charter schools are required to submit the number of teachers and if they are certified every year – but 38 schools did not report this data in 2017.39 Founders of the American Leadership Academy have made millions of dollars in profit, largely from our tax dollars.40 Our tax dollars allocated on education should be spent efficiently and every school should have the same accountability standards. Every student must have equal access to charter schools if they are to exist in our state.
What I will fight for:
• Equitable state funding for district schools
• Identical public accountability standards for District schools and charter schools
• Appropriate punishment when schools of all kinds follow discriminatory practices or use tax dollars for personal gain
1 Fischer, H. (2017, September 26). Study says 1 in 5 public school teacher positions unfilled. Retrieved July 3, 2018, from https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/09/26/arizona-school-personnel-administrators-association-surveyteacher-positions-unfilled/
2 Roberts, L. (2017, December 20). 866 Arizona teachers have already quit this year. Retrieved July 3, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2017/12/19/roberts-866-teachers-have-alreadyquit-year-some/967075001/
3 Roberts, L. (2017, December 20). 866 Arizona teachers have already quit this year. Retrieved July 3, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2017/12/19/roberts-866-teachers-have-alreadyquit-year-some/967075001/
4 Hunting, D., Reilly, T., Whitsett, A., Briggs, S., Garcia, J., Hart, B., & Spyra, E. (2017). Finding & Keeping Educators for Arizona’s Classrooms (Rep.). Phoenix, AZ: Morrison Institute. Retrieved July 2, 2018, from http://morrisoninstitute.asu.edu/sites/default/files/content/ products/AZ TEACHERS REPORT 2017_0.pdf
5 Hunting, D., Reilly, T., Whitsett, A., Briggs, S., Garcia, J., Hart, B., & Spyra, E. (2017). Finding & Keeping Educators for Arizona’s Classrooms (Rep.). Phoenix, AZ: Morrison Institute. Retrieved July 2, 2018, from http://morrisoninstitute.asu.edu/sites/default/files/content/ products/AZ TEACHERS REPORT 2017_0.pdf
6 National Staff Development Council. (2008, November). Chart the stages of teacher development. Teachers Teaching Teachers, 8-9. Retrieved July 1, 2018, from https://learningforward.org/docs/leadingteacher/nov08_tool.pdf?sfvrsn=2.
7 Expect More Arizona. (n.d.). Progress Meter: Teacher Pay. Retrieved July 2, 2018, from https://www.expectmorearizona.org/progress/teacher_pay/
8 Hunting, D., Reilly, T., Whitsett, A., Briggs, S., Garcia, J., Hart, B., & Spyra, E. (2017). Finding & Keeping Educators for Arizona’s Classrooms (Rep.). Phoenix, AZ: Morrison Institute. Retrieved July 2, 2018, from http://morrisoninstitute.asu.edu/sites/default/files/content/ products/AZ TEACHERS REPORT 2017_0.pdf
9 Hunting, D., Reilly, T., Whitsett, A., Briggs, S., Garcia, J., Hart, B., & Spyra, E. (2017). Finding & Keeping Educators for Arizona’s Classrooms (Rep.). Phoenix, AZ: Morrison Institute. Retrieved July 2, 2018, from http://morrisoninstitute.asu.edu/sites/default/files/content/ products/AZ TEACHERS REPORT 2017_0.pdf
10 Irish, L. (2017, June 21). Teacher Survey Reveals Supportive School Environments, But Unreasonable Class Sizes (+Infographic). Retrieved July 3, 2018, from https://azednews.com/survey-schools-earn-b-leadership-f-useteachers-time/
11 Belfield, C.R. & Hickox, I. (2018). Arizona Mayors Education Dashboards. San Francisco, CA: WestEd. Retrieved from http://azmayors.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Arizona-Mayors-Education-Dashboards-Spring-2018.pdf.
12 Kids Count. (2018). Four year graduation rates for students with disabilities in Arizona. Retrieved from https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bar/7773-four-year-graduation-rates-for-students-withdisabilities?loc=4&loct=2#2/any/true/870/3667,3678/14994
13 Barrat, V. X., Berliner, B., & Felida, N. J. (2015). Arizona’s Invisible Achievement Gap: Education Outcomes of Students in Foster Care in the State’s Public Schools. San Francisco: WestEd.
14 Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. (n.d.). Arizona Public School Drinking Water Lead Screening Program. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from http://www.azdeq.gov/azdwlead_screening
15 Brown, M., & Margolis, S. (2012, August 09). Lead in Drinking Water and Human Blood Lead Levels in the United States. Retrieved July 6, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6104a1.htm
16 Rau, A. (2017, November 16). Arizona school funding: How it works. Retrieved July 13, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/11/13/arizona-schoolfunding/782457001/ 17 First Things First. (n.d.). Investing in Early Childhood. Retrieved June 23, 2018, from https://www.firstthingsfirst.org/early-childhood-matters/investing-in-early-childhood/
18 Heckman, J. (2016, September 30). Early Childhood Education: Quality and Access Pay Off. Retrieved June 22, 2018 from https://heckmanequation.org/assets/2017/01/F_Heckman_Moffitt_093016.pdf
19 Expect More Arizona. (n.d.). Progress Meter: Quality Early Learning. Retrieved July 2, 2018, from https://www.expectmorearizona.org/progress/preschool_enrollment/?region=Arizona
20 Cano, R. (2018, July 06). Failures and successes: A history of Arizona education funding ideas. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2018/07/06/arizona-educationfunding-redfored-sales-tax-ballot-election-doug-ducey-jan-brewer-diane-douglas/704085002/
21 Goodwyn, S., L. Acredolo, and A.L. Brown, 2000 as cited in Vallotton, C. (n.d.). Signing with Babies and Children: A summary of Research Findings for Parents and Professionals (Rep.). Two Little Hands Productions. Retrieved from http://c445781.r81.cf0.rackcdn.com/wp_SigningwithBabies&Children.pdf
22 Acredolo, L. & S. Goodwyn, 2000 as cited in Vallotton, C. (n.d.). Signing with Babies and Children: A summary of Research Findings for Parents and Professionals (Rep.). Two Little Hands Productions. Retrieved from http://c445781.r81.cf0.rackcdn.com/wp_SigningwithBabies&Children.pdf
23 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2017, June 28). 37 percent of May 2016 employment in occupations typically requiring postsecondary education. Retrieved March 26, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/37percent-of-may-2016-employment-in-occupations-typically-requiring-postsecondary-education.htm
24 Carnevale, A. P., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2013). Recovery: Job growth and education requirements through 2020. 25 Nicla, A. (2017, August 30). Arizona cuts to college student support still among steepest in nation. Retrieved July 1, 2018, from http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/083017_college_cuts/arizona-cuts-college-studentsupport-still-among-steepest-nation/
25 Nicla, A. (2017, August 30). Arizona cuts to college student support still among steepest in nation. Retrieved July 1, 2018, from http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/083017_college_cuts/arizona-cuts-college-studentsupport-still-among-steepest-nation/
26 Mitchell, M., Leachman, M., & Masterson, K. (2018, August 23). A Lost Decade in Higher Education Funding. Retrieved June 20, 2018, from https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/a-lost-decade-in-highereducation-funding
27 Leingang, R. (2018, May 01). Koch-backed ‘freedom schools’ in Arizona to get money in university funding budget. Retrieved June 20, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizonaeducation/2018/05/01/arizona-koch-backed-freedom-schools-get-money-budgets-university-funding/567164002/
28 Díaz, E. (2018, April 10). Maricopa community colleges are full of bad news, and no one cares. Retrieved June 28, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/elviadiaz/2018/02/26/maricopa-countycommunity-colleges-scandal-funding-problems/372064002/
29 Joint Legislative Budget Committee. (N.D.). Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations Report: Arizona Community Colleges. Retrieved June 29, 2018 from https://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/18AR/acc.pdf
30 Maricopa Community Colleges. (2015). University Transfer: Transfer Trends and Outcomes. Retrieved July 12, 2018 from https://asa.maricopa.edu/sites/default/files/University_Transfer_Briefing_Paper.pdf
31 Maricopa Community Colleges. (2017, December 5). MCCCD Governing Board Outcomes and Metrics: 2016-27 Monitoring Report. Retrieved July 12, 2018 from https://asa.maricopa.edu/sites/default/files/2017_Governing_Board_Full_Report_Final.pdf
32 Economic Modeling Specialists International. (February 2014). Where Value Meets Values: The Economic Impact of Community Colleges. Retrieved July 12, 2018 from https://www.empowererie.org/uploads/resources/796450_usa_agg_mainreport_final_021114.pdf
33 Harris, C. (2018, July 12). The charter-vs.-district school funding debate: Who gets more money? Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2018/07/12/arizona-charterschools-get-more-state-funding-pay-their-teachers-less/686900002/
34 Joint Legislative Budget Committee. (2018, June 21). Overview of K-12 Per Pupil Funding for School Districts and Charter Schools. Retrieved July 12, 2018 from https://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/districtvscharterfunding.pdf
35 Harris, C. (2018, July 12). The charter-vs.-district school funding debate: Who gets more money? Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2018/07/12/arizona-charterschools-get-more-state-funding-pay-their-teachers-less/686900002/
36 Mahoney, E. L. (2015, October 13). Fact Check: Education union chief correct on charter spending. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/fact-check/2015/10/13/arizona-charter-spendingfact-check/73518748/
37 Dale, M. (2018, June 13). Arizona’s School Grades 20 Years In The Making And Some Still Feel Misrepresented. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://kjzz.org/content/656145/arizonas-school-grades-20-years-making-and-somestill-feel-misrepresented
38 Zetino, G. (2017, December). Schools Choosing Students. Phoenix, AZ: ACLU of Arizona. Retrieved from https://www.acluaz.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/schools_choosing_students_web.pdf
39 Hall, J. (2018, January 16). The mess in Arizona’s charter school sector. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/01/16/the-mess-in-arizonas-charter-schoolsector/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9668a951af4d
40 Harris, C. (2018, July 13). Arizona charter school founder makes millions building his own schools. Retrieved July 14, 2018, from https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2018/07/11/american-leadershipacademy-charter-school-founder-glenn-way-nets-millions/664210002/