Many would agree that the greatest immediate threat facing our children’s economic security comes directly as a result of the actions of the Arizona State Legislature and not from the economy in general. It is also fair to say that the most recently passed state budget has just been balanced on the educational backs and at the expense of Arizona’s youngest citizens.
In regards to our educational system, Arizona is ranked the worst state in the country in terms of graduation rates, spending per pupil and the amount of children which go on to obtain college degrees. I do feel that the Arizona Legislature plays an important factor on our hold on last place. The reality is that our education system is the most under funded and underperforming state-wide system in the country. Arizona schools are failing to meet the demands of the kids. Approximately 30% of the students drop out, 20% of the students are being prepared for vocations, and another 20% go to college, while the rest of the students receive no specific training.
Many teachers and support staff have been eliminated in order to maintain an operating budget in local school districts. We have witnessed the elimination of important educational programs, and have observed how class sizes seem to grow year to year. We desperately need to change Arizona’s priorities. Our elected officials need to invest in Arizona’s future by ensuring adequate funding for education. As if we do not have enough challenges within our local districts, our Arizona Legislature adds to those challenges by producing unprecedented cuts to education.
As children return to school, they have witnessed underpaid and overworked teachers attempting to adjust salary cuts, under supplied classrooms and huge class sizes in which they will be lucky if their teacher learns their first name by the end of the semester. The point is, we need to focus on getting educators closer to $5,000 of the $7,000 spent per year per student, rather than the $2,000 they get today. With far better spending habit we can create more transparency along with waste less of our budget and Arizona can compete for the best educators as well as ensure our kids receive the best possible school.