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A History of Our Impact in Arizona

Legislation, Parent & Family Engagement, Who We Are | 05/18/2016

Rebecca Gau
Executive Director

Rebecca Gau is the Executive Director of Stand for Children Arizona.

As Stand for Children celebrates 20 years of improving education for kids, we take a look back at what we have achieved in Arizona, since our state affiliate was founded in 2009.

You can’t talk about the history of Stand for Children in Arizona without first mentioning the woman who started it all, Liliana Hutcheson. When Lili was brought on, Stand for Children was not very active in Latino communities. And before she could open up shop in Arizona, she had to prove that the Spanish-speaking communities of Portland could organize and be a force for change.

In just a few months, Lili organized two teams of parents. She was so successful that Stand shipped her back to Arizona to open the state office. That was October of 2009, and following the same strategy she used in Portland, Lili organized the Phoenix Union High School District and had a team of 70 members at Camelback High School.

The following year, she organized Trevor G. Browne High School, Carl Hayden Community High School, Kyrene Elementary School District and Central High School. Our trained members were 200 strong at that point, and we made an impact right away by getting involved in an override measure that brought $17 million to the district. 

For the first time in Arizona, Stand parents canvassed, manned phone banks and through their efforts, we got the measure passed.

Arizona’s office was just Lili and a City Director at that point, but it quickly expanded after their success, with a full complement of staff members that could both organize and affect legislation at the State capitol.

We were instrumental in passing Proposition 100, a temporary sales tax to boost school funding. And we helped pass SB 1040, landmark legislation calling for the creation of a framework for the evaluation of principals and teachers.

Our influence quickly grew through the organization of the Murphy, Alhambra, and Roosevelt School Districts. We started organizing charter schools as well. 

Over the next few years, we expanded our reach to tens of thousands of supporters. Our members worked hard to pass local funding for our districts totaling nearly $200 million in successful bonds and overrides. In districts that hadn’t passed them before, Stand Arizona helped put in place improved assessment standards.

In 2014, we were a major player in the education electoral and advocacy landscape. We hosted parent forums and seminars, and partnered to host the only gubernatorial debate on education. We were a strong force in electing 18 candidates who we consider education champions and stopped numerous anti-standards bills in the Legislature.

These days, we have struck a fantastic balance between grassroots organization and statewide legislative impact. 

  • We developed DoYourHomeworkArizona.com, a site in both English and Spanish dedicated to helping parents understand their child’s homework. 
  • We facilitated a tutoring program that partners high school Honor students with elementary school students in some of the state’s more underserved communities.

  • We’ve trained more than 2,000 parents in the importance of education and how to get involved.

And just a few days ago, through canvassing, phone banks, mailers, lobbying, and good old fashioned hard work, we helped pass Proposition 123, a school funding measure that brings more than 3.5 billion dollars into K-12 education over the next ten years.  It will inject millions of dollars into classrooms in June!

Arizona has become the model for Stand in the nation in organizing Spanish speaking communities. It remains, of course, a constant battle to secure funding for schools and make sure all children get to college ready to succeed. But we couldn’t be more thrilled with our success so far, and it only inspires us to keep fighting for a quality education for every single child in our state.

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