Effort geared toward elevating education into top election priority

(PHOENIX, AZ)  As candidates at all levels of government announce their election campaigns for public office, Expect More Arizona and its community and business partners today launched a grassroots “Vote 4 Education” campaign, geared toward motivating voters to make education their “hot button issue” throughout this election season.  The business and community leaders representing a variety of Arizona industries present at the public announcement voiced their commitment to heavily championing education over the next six months, leading up to the general election.

The “Vote 4 Education” campaign is prompted by growing concern among community leaders and citizens that education is not valued as highly as it should by our elected officials.  The sentiment is supported by the results of a statewide voter poll commissioned by Expect More Arizona and conducted by Lake Research, a national polling firm.

The survey found a plurality of Arizonans are “greatly concerned” about education in Arizona and view its quality as declining, not improving.  In fact, most felt Arizona’s education system is worse than others across the nation and the globe, that expectations for academic success are too low, and that elected officials are not doing enough to make the situation better.  Comprehensive results of the poll will be released within the next several weeks.

“As business leaders, we view a high quality education system as the key to an economically prosperous Arizona,” commented Phil Francis, president/CEO of PetSmart.  “Our ability to grow and diversify business in across our state as well as attract new high-wage jobs depends on a better educated workforce.”

The Maricopa County event is one of four taking place across Arizona over the next week.  At all events, business and community leaders, acting as Expect More Arizona’s candidates, are speaking out about the importance of education as a priority for all Arizonans, particularly when casting ballots for propositions, school-related special elections or candidates for public office.

“As key policy and budget decisions continue to be made at a state level that impact education, it is more important than ever before to make education a key factor in every vote,” said Michael Bidwill, president of the Arizona Cardinals.  “Arizona’s economic future depends on a quality education system and we must elect leaders who will make it their priority.”

Mimicking a political campaign, the grassroots “Vote 4 Education” effort will engage community leaders promoting the importance of education as a hot button issue throughout the election season.  Additionally, public awareness materials such as social media buttons, door hangers, posters, flyers and campaign signs touting “Are They 4 Education?” and “Vote 4 Education” will be displayed alongside campaign sign farms statewide.  A special voter section on ExpectMoreArizona.org will be the central portal to information about the election year, resources to stay informed this election season and “Vote 4 Education” materials.

Expect More Arizona will NOT endorse candidates for office through its “Vote 4 Education” effort; rather, it will urge Arizonans to ask themselves following 4 key questions when selecting candidates:

  • Is education one of their top two priorities?
  • Do they have a clear plan with specific strategies for how they will address the biggest issues affecting education in our state?
  • Are they willing to invest resources in education to support Arizona’s long-term success?
  • How will they challenge Arizonans to expect more and do more for education?

“Raising the bar and prioritizing education in our state cannot wait any longer,” said Cathleen A. Barton, SW/US Education Manager, Intel Corporation.  “We have to start viewing education as an investment, not an expense in order to ensure our students are prepared to compete and succeed in today’s global economy.”

For too long, Arizona has ranked near the bottom in terms of student achievement and student investment, most recently scoring a C- on the latest Quality Counts 2010 report, an annual and highly-respected analysis of the state of education across the country.  Overall, the report ranked Arizona #46 out of the 50 states and District of Columbia.  Quality Counts is compiled and released each year by the nonprofit group, Editorial Projects in Education.

“There is no question – how you vote matters when it comes to education,” said Paul J. Luna, Chairman of Expect More Arizona.  “For the past year, we have engaged thousands of citizens in taking action to make a difference in raising the bar for education – from birth through career; now we urge voters to make education a priority at election time.”

Expect More Arizona is making all “Vote 4 Education” campaign materials available to community volunteers and organizations online at www.ExpectMoreArizona.org.

Expect More Arizona is a statewide public-private partnership dedicated to creating a movement of Arizonans who value education as our state’s top priority and are actively engaged in strengthening the entire continuum from birth through career.  To learn more, visit www.ExpectMoreArizona.org.

Paid for by Expect More Arizona – Vote 4 Education, No on 302 – Protect Early Childhood Health/Development Funds.  Major funding by Expect More Arizona, a fund of the Arizona Community  Foundation.  The Vote 4 Education campaign is funded in its entirety by Helios Education Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation through Expect More Arizona and does not use public funds.