New school year, same problems

School Funding | 08/26/2019

Rebecca Gau
Executive Director, Stand for Children Arizona

It’s early in the morning. The alarm goes off. Kids wake up and start getting ready for their first day back to school. Parents rush to prepare lunches and pack backpacks.

Everyone is excited. It’s the first day of school.

But big problems still persist in our schools.

Arizona kids are walking into overcrowded classrooms with limited resources.

Teachers — like Kelley Fisher — have spent hundreds of their own dollars on school supplies like copy paper, Kleenex, and dry erase markers.

Arizona’s school dropout rate is ranked at 48th in the nation.

And only 46% of our students are reading on grade level. Students who cannot read on grade level by the third grade are 23% more likely to drop out or not finish high school on time.

The counselor shortage is really bad

But that’s not all.

Can you imagine your child not knowing who their counselor is? Can you imagine your child not even having a school counselor?

That is the reality for many Arizona students.

Our student-to-counselor ratio is still the worst in the nation, with an average of 905 students for every school counselor. This 905:1 ratio is detrimental to our student's success in Arizona. Counselors are needed in every school.

Arizona ranks as the second-worst state for teachers. According to the Wallet Hub, based on a broad range of educational measurements (test scores, funding school safety, class size, teacher salaries, and qualifications), our teachers are ranked 49th. It is obvious that we have a problem, and this is not okay. To avoid overcrowded classrooms, some schools squeeze students and teachers into smaller spaces that are not meant for students to learn.

We can’t give up

As a community, we can’t let this happen anymore. We need to come together to help our kids.

Recently, the state adjusted the funding formula to the benefit of our schools, teachers, and students. But this is not enough. There was no increase to the funding formula included in these changes.

We need a dedicated source of revenue. We need to expand our funding base.

We need every single one of you alongside us in the trenches, fighting for the educational reforms that our schools so desperately need.

Our kids are the future.

Arizonans are ready for a change. We are willing to even raise our own taxes.

The truth is that systemic change does not come easy. It will be a hard fight, but we can win for our schools, our teachers, and our children. Are you in?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

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