Two big things recently happened at Stand. First, we read a pretty wonky report that has pretty important implications for Arizona students. Second, we conducted and released a poll showing the strongest voter support for increased education funding we’ve ever seen. This edition of In the Trenches digs into these reports.
Education funding report highlights how much more work lies ahead
When the Arizona Auditor General released its annual report on classroom spending, I did some quick math on the per-pupil spending numbers, and I realized a startling fact: Arizona parents pay twice as much for a teen-aged babysitter on the weekends than the state of Arizona spends per hour on public education. Let that sink in for a minute. This means we are spending less than $6/hr for schools to be safe, materials to be high quality, and good teachers to teach each student in Arizona. How much do you pay for your weekend babysitter? Your summer nanny? How skilled in teaching critical lessons do you think they are? Don’t our students deserve better? According to the Auditor General report, Arizona spends around $3,500 less than the national average per student per year. It’s why Arizona ranks 50th in the nation in per-student spending. Although every little bit helps, recent incremental increases won’t make much of a difference. So, how much should we be spending on our students? For a point of reference, many in the education community believe that $10,000 annually is a more reasonable, realistic goal. Yet, Arizona is only spending an average of $8,296 per student each year total, from all local, state, and federal sources. This means we are spending $46 per school day on our students, which adds up to less than $6 per hour they are in school.
If less than $6 per hour per kid seems way too low to you, you’re not alone. Even without knowing that fact, Arizona voters overwhelmingly support increasing funding.
(If you’re interested, you can read the full Auditor General report here.)