In his State of the State address yesterday, Governor Ducey expressed that education issues will be his top priority this year. Nearly half of his hour-long speech was spent on the topic as he laid out 16 proposals, which can be found here. The details will be critical, and are expected to be outlined in the budget proposal the Governor’s Office releases this Friday.

The Governor spoke of his desire to ensure Arizona remains a place of “boundless opportunity” and his belief that a quality education for every child is the key to such opportunity. Expect More Arizona welcomes these remarks and we echo his sentiments that there are many examples of excellence in education throughout Arizona, thanks to the hard work of teachers and students.

In particular, we applaud the Governor’s desire to provide more resources each year he is Governor for Arizona’s schools. Expect More Arizona’s recent poll results show that Arizona voters overwhelming believe that too little funding is going to K-12 education and teacher pay.

We understand the dollars available are limited and the funding needs great, therefore we encourage the Governor and the legislature to thoughtfully consider both short- and long-term funding solutions, with a focus on both equity and excellence in results; including the update and renewal of Prop 301.

We are also encouraged by the Governor’s support for teachers and his proposals for tackling the teacher shortage crisis statewide, including teacher pay, stipends for teachers in low-income classrooms and the creation of an Arizona Teacher Academy. A recent report from the Arizona School Personnel Administrator’s Association shows 2,166 teacher positions remain vacant statewide. This is a significant issue, as we know few things have greater impact on student success than a great teacher in every classroom.

Governor Ducey spoke of the need to close the achievement gap in Arizona by focusing programs and resources on classrooms and communities most in need, including schools in low-income and rural areas and tribal communities. Included in his proposals is a desire to expand voluntary full-day Kindergarten in an effort to impact the early reading success of Arizona students.

Expect More Arizona believes there are additional opportunities to address early learning and literacy, including:
• Improving Move on When Reading to focus on additional supports for students, increasing transparency for parents and increasing the quality of interventions.
• Sustaining and ensuring the effectiveness of the existing $40 million that supports 3rd grade reading proficiency of students most in need.
• Raising awareness of the importance of early education, including high-quality early education programs, ongoing family-child interactions, literacy and chronic absenteeism and early language development.

Finally, we also appreciate the Governor’s support for Career and Technical Education, Achieve60AZ and College Knowing and Going programs. Click here for Expect More Arizona’s 2017 Advocacy Priorities.

We look forward to the release of the Governor’s budget proposal on Friday, and to working with Governor Ducey and state legislators to make sure every child in Arizona receives an excellent education, every step of the way.

It’s your turn to take action. Use the tool below to send a quick message to your elected leaders to encourage them to make education their top priority in 2017.