As the new year approaches, we have the opportunity to reflect on and celebrate our accomplishments from the past year and to set goals for the year to come.
2018 was full of both trials and triumphs for public education, and we can learn valuable lessons from both.
For starters, teachers made their voices heard.
We've never seen anything like it in Arizona. Teachers vowed to walk, and they did. Around 50,000 teachers marched to the Capitol demanding change, showing us that when we advocate for what’s right and work together, reform happens. Ultimately, Governor Ducey and the legislature passed a budget that gives teachers a 20% pay raise by FY 2021, which has built-in stability because it’s included in the base funding. This means that it’s permanent, ongoing, and will keep up with inflation.
Public education was a main issue during elections.
Arizonans currently care deeply about public education, as evidenced by the amount of voters who mentioned education as one of their top priorities in our polls. Arizona’s House of Representatives is now comprised of 31 Republicans and 29 Democrats, as Democrats gained 4 seats. The Senate numbers remained the same with 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats. Stand-endorsed candidates won 77% of their races, both Democrat and Republican, which is an incredible victory.
We still have work to do.
In 2019, we must continue to advocate for ELL students. Despite addressing other issues, our legislators failed to improve the quality of education for our English Language Learners. Unfortunately, our ELL bill, which would have helped 83,000 ELL students, came up a bit short, even though it had bipartisan support and had easily passed through committees with near unanimous support. When the important moment came, however, lawmakers didn't allow a yes or no vote on the floor. Despite this disappointment, we won’t lose heart or stop fighting for our ELL students in the 2019 session.
After the new year begins, we hope you’ll be beside us, donating your time, money, and voices to help further our message. As always, thank you for supporting us and helping us turn the tides for education in Arizona.