(Phoenix, AZ) – As Arizona’s K-12 public school students return to classes this month, many are still not seeing improvements in classroom conditions: lawmakers have failed to provide enough funding to replace outdated textbooks and technology, fix crumbling and unsafe buildings and ensure there are enough resources for all students to have a permanent teacher.
While lawmakers boast that they increased funding for Arizona public schools, the data show investments in education remain well below what they were during the Great Recession. Adjusted for inflation, public school dollars are down 8.24%, at a time when districts have a difficult time attracting and retaining teachers and students have no choice but to try to learn in unsafe facilities that need major renovations. Data from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) indicates the state invests $4,958 per student, compared with $5,269 more than ten years ago.
“This is unacceptable – year after year, kids have no choice but to learn without adequate materials – and often long-term with substitute teachers who are not assigned to a regular classroom,” said David Lujan, director of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress. “Lawmakers continue to say they support education, yet they have failed time and again to take meaningful steps to allocate permanent and sustainable funding for K-12 public schools. Arizona students deserve better.”
During the last session, legislators squandered a $1 billion surplus, putting most of the money into a rainy-day fund while enacting even more tax cuts and credits on the backs of Arizona public school children. Parents, teachers, faith leaders, voters from all parties and business CEOs have called for significant new investments to meet our shared education goals.
We can’t count on lawmakers to fix this funding crisis.
The Arizona Center for Economic Progress
3030 N. 3rd St., Suite 650
Phoenix, AZ 85012