Twenty-two years ago, over 300,000 concerned parents, community leaders, and educators marched at the Stand for Children rally in Washington D.C.
Little did our founders know back then that this march would become a movement that would spread across the country. Even though I wasn’t there when Stand for Children was founded, today I’m fighting for better schools in Arizona.
Although a lot has changed, one thing remains: we are still committed to doing what’s best for our students. This means doing things that often aren't popular or politically expedient because our rich history fuels us to do what's right every single day. Whether it’s advocating for more education funding or supporting English Language Learners, our focus is always doing what’s best for kids.
Unfortunately, in the last decade, our state has been spending a billion dollars less per year on our schools. The result is that our children have now grown far too familiar with overcrowded classrooms and outdated textbooks. Teachers are leaving the state in droves, and many students deal with a revolving door of substitute teachers. To add insult to injury: only 44% of our children are reading at grade level, rendering us nearly the worst in the nation in terms of literacy rates.
We know we are better than this. We know that our schools reflect and reinforce values we care about like honesty and compassion, and they prepare our students to be good citizens and contribute to their communities as adults. We know that it's hard to have healthy and robust communities without excellent schools.
Our history shows us that without bold and deliberate persistence, change is not possible. And while we've made some progress in Arizona, there is still more work to be done. It's why we are supporting the Invest in Education Act.
This initiative gives voters like you and me a chance to do something about the growing teacher shortage and overcrowded classrooms. It allows us to vote to invest in crucial support staff like counselors and school nurses and to ensure that our children are safe, healthy, and prepared to learn each day.
We can’t sit back and continue to wait for a non-existent "better" plan, especially during this historic moment.
Just like 22 years ago, we've seen thousands of educators and community members march and demand more for our students, and we hope to continue to invest in their future. In a time like this, too much is on the line, and the eyes of the nation are watching us. The time has come for Arizonans to stop relying on politicians and to take this opportunity to vote yes and help our schools.