Since our founding in 2009, Stand Arizona has been a leading advocate for proven policies,
along with the funding necessary, to ensure all students have access to a high-quality
education. For the past four years, we have co-led the Invest in Education Coalition, which
developed and passed Proposition 208 to help address our state’s chronic public school teacher
shortage, improve our state’s worst in the nation counselor to student ratios, and increase our
state’s low graduation rates.

This bipartisan education budget will help Arizona public schools address these key challenges
in order to increase student achievement and improve education outcomes across the state,
ensure Arizona students are better prepared for life beyond the classroom, and that our
Arizona businesses have the skilled workforce necessary to remain competitive.

The budget includes substantial increases in base funding and significant new formula weights
to help Arizona schools mitigate the impacts of poverty on student achievement and make
significant strides in catching up to the costs of additional learning support provided through
special education. Additional one-time monies will help schools address delayed capital
projects, replace transportation fleets, and upgrade technology.

Throughout the budget process, Stand Arizona worked closely with school-based leaders,
legislators, and education groups across the state. We would especially like to thank the school
district superintendents who came together to create and persistently champion a budget that
will boost student success in every corner of our great state.

As we await Governor Ducey’s signature, we would like to express our appreciation for the
legislature’s support and commitment to public schools demonstrated through the FY23
budget, with particular thanks to those legislators on both sides of the aisle who worked
tirelessly and insistently for a comprehensive package that would advance public schools

For the better part of twenty years, major funding for education in Arizona has been secured
through the ballot box and the courts, not the legislature. It is particularly noteworthy that in
honoring the will of the voters expressed in 2020 with the passage of Proposition 208, the
legislature has acted on a bipartisan basis to meaningfully invest in public education.


A great example of people using their power to influence change in their community happened in Alhambra School District in February. Stand helped Alhambra parents partner with their superintendent to engage in listening sessions to share their concerns about what was happening in their community.

In the listening sessions, parents shared that the issues keeping kids from focusing in school are external to school – things like homelessness, drugs, prostitution, and robbery. On their way to school, kids are seeing people sleeping on the street and walking past discarded needles on the ground. One Stand mom, Luisa, said her kids were scared. They were worrying about the walk home at the end of the day instead of focusing on what was happening in class.

These conversations led to a proposal before the Phoenix city council last month, Act 49, which successfully passed 7-1, investing $4.1M into community safety measures. Over 50 Stand parents showed up at the council meeting and three Stand leaders testified, sharing their stories and why these changes were needed.

And the city listened.

The Phoenix streets where kids walk to school will be safer with more streetlights, cameras, and other safety measures thanks to a successful partnership between Stand parents and the City of Phoenix. We couldn’t be more grateful to both!

This piece was published on the Arizona Republic on March 21st, 2022.

Changing the Arizona Constitution is the wrong way to address critical race theory

Opinion: It’s a bad idea to add voter-protected language to the constitution that could have major unintended consequences for Arizona schools.

A bill that has largely gone unnoticed until this week seeks to put the controversy over the teaching of critical race theory to a vote by Arizonans.

Regardless how one views CRT, the proposed constitutional amendment by Arizona legislators is a flawed plan that should be abandoned. 

House Concurrent Resolution 2001 – on the agenda Tuesday before the Senate Education Committee – would refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for the Nov. 8 election, making it voter-protected and placing a host of prohibitions and restrictions on what schools, colleges and universities can do. 

HCR 2001 is legislative overreach

HCR 2001 would ban students, teachers, employees or even job applicants from “making a statement of personal belief in support of … Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” beyond the U.S. 14th Amendment and prevent state agencies from implementing federal programs that do anything beyond the express language of the 14th Amendment. 

For example, if a federal education program required disaggregated data collection, the state would likely not be able to do it. 

The legislation would also prevent schools from discussing equity policies that have arisen despite the 14th Amendment – essentially restricting any discussion of race and ethnicity to only what the amendment says. It leaves punishment for any violations to be prescribed by the Legislature. 

Whether or not one believes prohibiting conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion in schools is either wise or necessary, there are practical matters that make this the wrong way to go at the issue.  

Hasty changes in the 2000s still plague us

First, adding this kind of language to the state constitution is a bad idea. If passed, it could only be amended at the ballot – making it extremely challenging to undo or amend. Lest we forget, constitutional and voter-protected statutory changes made hastily in an anti-immigrant fervor in the early 2000s still plague us – “English Only” in classrooms, prohibitions on in-state tuition for DACA students come to mind. 

It is also unwise to add to the constitution voter-protected language that could have problematic unintended consequences for instruction in Arizona. 

The College Board announced earlier this month in a statement of principles that high schools that ban “required topics” in their Advanced Placement classes could lose AP designations. Though it is unclear exactly how this might play out, many parents choose their child’s school based on AP course availability. 

In addition, AP courses are a key component on which schools are evaluated (for example, by U.S. New and World Report). Other states are going down this path now – we should see how it plays out before placing language in our constitution that will be nearly impossible to remove. It’s just not worth the risk.  

Don’t like policies? Give local control a chance

Second, it creates a chilling effect on free speech. This rhetoric is coming from the same people who protested the idea of “politically correct” speech on the grounds that speech could not and should not be curtailed just because it makes some people feel threatened or uncomfortable. This point was recently made by Justice Samuel Alito, one of the most conservative members of the Supreme Court, in this opinion. 

Third, it violates local control and parent choice. Arizona parents benefit from “open enrollment” policies that many other states don’t have. They can choose a school, district or charter, in any location for free.

At the same time, local school board members are elected officials, tasked with the fiscal responsibility and accountability to their local community. If parents don’t like any choice the school board makes, they can “vote with their feet” and leave the district (or charter), or they can “vote the bums out” in the next election. 

Attempting to dramatically influence very locally derived hiring policies and curricular decisions is legislative overreach. 

Placing language in the Arizona Constitution makes it virtually impossible to adjust or improve, regardless because it goes too far or doesn’t go far enough. That’s just bad policy, especially when the unintended consequences could harm Arizona’s families. 

Rebecca Gau is executive director of Stand for Children Arizona

Arizonans are fed up with failed leadership at the state capitol.

The battle for more funding and investment into schools is putting the actions of state leaders at odds with the demands of voters. Time after time, voters have expressed their disapproval in public opinion polls and organized efforts to secure much needed funding for teachers and students.

Last year, 1.7 million Arizona voters passed Prop 208 – a historic initiative that would raise nearly a billion dollars annually in K-12 education funding to help address the state’s longstanding teacher shortage crisis, lower class sizes, hire aides and counselors, and expand career and technical education.

Over the last year and a half, legislative leaders and Governor Ducey were determined to kill Prop 208 and deny voters what they have been asking for over a decade: more investment in education.

Today, Arizona stands as the state where teacher pay is among the lowest in the nation, class size is the highest in the nation, and the student to counselor ratio is the worst in the nation, with an average of 900 students for every counselor.

This week, Stand for Children Arizona released our 2021 Annual Poll. This has been an annual survey to gage the support from voters on important issues like education and leadership. This poll is also significant because it delivers five years of data on some questions.

The new public opinion survey reveals that a majority of Arizonans believe the state is headed in the wrong direction and have continued their low approval ratings for the Governor and the legislature from last year.

Voters are not happy with the direction of the state, or state policymakers  

  • 52% of voters believe things in Arizona are on the wrong track. This has held steady from last year and is up 20% since 2019. Similarly, only 33% of voters believe the state is on the right track, down from its highest point of 50% in 2018. Going even further back, in 2016 48% believed the state was heading in the right direction and only 34% believed the state was on the wrong track. (Slide 4)  
  • 52% of voters have a total unfavorable impression of Gov Ducey, with 33% saying “very unfavorable.” (Slide 5)  
  • 50% of voters have an unfavorable view of the AZ legislature, up from 48% last year (Slide 5)  
  • Arizona voters give Gov Ducey a failing grade when it comes to helping Arizona’s public schools, 43% give him a “D or Fail”. This is way up from 31% in 2019. (Slide 7)  
  • Arizona voters give the legislature a failing grade when it comes to helping Arizona’s public schools, 47% give a “D or Fail”. This is up from 41% in 2019. (Slide 8) 

At the same time voters give these sinking favorability ratings, they intend to hold policymakers accountable for key policy decisions affecting education funding.   

  • 46% of voters say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate for state office who was part or supported the efforts to overturn Prop 208 – Invest in ED. (Slide 11)   
  • In order to stop the citizen referral Prop 307, legislators are considering a legislative gimmick known as “repeal and replace” that would basically block voters from voting on the referral, ensuring the tax cut for the wealthy stays in place. 55% of voters say that they would be less likely to vote for a candidate for state office who was part of or supported efforts by the legislature to “repeal and replace.”  

Voters continue to strongly support education funding.   

  • 71% of Arizona voters believe there is a need for additional funds for public schools, with 48% saying that there is a “great need.” This overwhelming support has held steady since last year. Only 24% say there is not much need.   
  • 67% of voters believe the state spending cap on education funding needs to be addressed. 37% of voters say they support increasing the spending limit on education, while 30% say they would support permanently removing the spending limit on education. This includes 76% of rural voters supporting an increase/removal on the spending limit and 52% of Republican voters supporting the increase/removal of the spending limit on education.    
  • 60% of voters say that “Politicians shouldn’t be allowed to overturn voter-approved education funding just because they don’t like the results of the election,” is a convincing reason to oppose efforts to “repeal and replace” SB 1828 – the tax giveaway for the wealthy.  
  • 61% of voters say that “The fate of Prop 208 should be decided by the 1.7 million voters who passed it, not 48 politicians in Phoenix,” is a convincing reason to oppose efforts to “repeal and replace” SB 1828 – the tax giveaway for the wealthy.   

Politicians who oppose increased education funding are in jeopardy. Voters are watching their elected officials and strongly dislike candidates that oppose education funding.  

  • 59% of voters find that “Legislators must be held accountable in next November’s election for undermining the will of the voters,” is a convincing reason to oppose efforts to “repeal and replace” SB 1828 – the tax giveaway for the wealthy.  
  • 61% of voters say that “The Legislature shouldn’t try any dishonest gimmicks to push through their tax cut for the wealthy – they should let the voters decide in November” is a convincing reason to oppose efforts to “repeal and replace” SB 1828 – the tax giveaway for the wealthy. 

The survey was conducted in December 2021, by Moore Information Group. You can see the full results on our website.

Voters want politicians to fulfil their commitment to students and teachers.  

Arizonans have spoken and will not give in to any attempts to cut funding to our schools. In fact, voters feel quite the opposite. We invite you to join us in our effort to restore funding to our schools and keep state leaders accountable.  

Good leadership means looking out for working families.

We commend our nation’s leaders who, through the Build Back Better Framework, have set the path forward to providing families nationwide the resources they need to succeed.

Right now, the choice to continue investing in Arizona families is in our elected official’s hands.

When the American Rescue Plan was passed, it put money directly into families’ pockets with the expansion of the Child Tax Credit. For many working families, the Child Tax Credit expansion has been a godsend.Unfortunately, as of now, the expanded Child Tax Credit is set to expire – leaving our communities in dire circumstances. We need the Child Tax Credit to be extended and made permanent.

Over the past year, our team at Stand AZ has connected with families to hear about their needs. We’ve heard from thousands of hard-working parents whose lives have been changed by receiving the monthly Child Tax Credit payments.

This sweeping effort has cut child poverty by 45 percent. The payments have provided more than 35 million Americans with food security, the ability to afford rent, and the funds needed to take care of the basic needs of their children.

While a one-year extension provides only temporary relief, we know it’s a first step in changing the futures of an entire generation of children. For Miguel Gaytan, a father in Phoenix, the Child Tax Credit is a crucial need for his family.

“The child tax credit money has helped my family in so many ways, I’ve been able to catch a break and pay past due bills that have set my family behind. My wife had lost her job during COVID so this money has truly been a lifesaver. I know there are so many other families out there like mine who are still struggling to pay off debts and trying to keep their family afloat, this pandemic is not over and this extra bit of help goes a long way. I hope the government makes this a permanent program so that families can continue to feel supported.” 

Extending the CTC is extraordinarily vital for low and middle-income families. For working mom, Kattya Valdez and her daughter, Isabella,  this is very much the case. Like many families since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, life has been a struggle. Also like many families, the expansion of the CTC has helped ease that burden. As Katya says,  

“I am very grateful to have a job, but as a single parent, it is sometimes difficult to make ends meet month to month. The Child Tax Credit money has been extremely helpful in paying for my daughter’s tutoring and catching up on my monthly bills.” 

You can learn more about the CTC at 

Along with thousands of our supporters from Arizona and around the country, we call upon members of both houses of Congress to support the legislation that will be built upon the Build Back Better framework and forever be a part of a historic investment in our nation’s future. 

This piece was published on the Arizona Capitol Times on August 26th, 2021

Right now, Arizona is experiencing a child care crisis. Costs and demand for high-quality child care are on the rise in Arizona. Now, with the pandemic forcing one-third of the state’s licensed child care providers to close, parents are left with nowhere to turn while workers lose their livelihoods. As parents, advocates for children, and policy experts, we know first-hand how critical quality child care is for our children, families, and local economies.

Kelley Murphy

To fully address our state’s child care crisis, the Senate must support President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, which guarantees access to high-quality, affordable child care for low- and middle-income families and provides universal free preschool to all 3- and 4-year-old children. This historic investment will set our children up for success throughout their lives and strengthen our communities. Investing in child care will boost our local and national economies. A recent study has found that the nation’s child care crisis costs the country $57 billion a year in lost earnings, productivity and revenue. Expanding access to affordable child care and supporting the Build Back Better agenda will give 29,532 more Arizona parents the option to work and will generate $3 billion of new economic activity in our state. This plan will also support child care providers and ensure that child care workers are paid a living wage of at least $15 an hour. Beyond being the right decision for our children and working families, investing in child care is the right choice for our economy.

Quality child care is critical to a child’s development and long-term success. Children enrolled in quality early care and education programs build early literacy skills, and develop basic social, emotional, and problem-solving skills that prepare them for formal schooling. Studies have shown that children who participate in quality early care and education programs are more likely to graduate from high school, obtain a job, and make a higher income than peers who do not. Providing access to quality early care and education can also reduce racial and income gaps in academic outcomes and performance. By investing in universal free preschool and expanding access to quality child care, the Build Back Better agenda will ensure that Arizona’s children are on a path to success from the start.  

Rebecca Gau

Arizona families are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of child care. Right now, the annual cost of infant care for one child eats up 19.8% of a median family’s income in Arizona. At $10,948 a year, infant care in Arizona is now more expensive than tuition for public college. Arizonans can’t keep up with these skyrocketing costs, which is why Congress needs to put money back into the hands of working families and invest in affordable child care. By covering the cost of quality child care for low-income families and ensuring that middle-income families pay no more than 7% of their income toward child care, the Build Back Better agenda will save average Arizona families thousands of dollars.  

Arizona can’t let the child care crisis go on any longer. We need Congress to support our communities and invest in our children, families, and child care providers. We urge Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly to support the Build Back Better agenda and deliver the child care and early learning investments Arizona needs to strengthen our communities. 

Kelley Murphy is vice-president policy, Children’s Action Alliance and Rebecca Gau is executive director, Stand for Children Arizona.