We’re spending $6/hr on our students and poll shows voters are ready for action.

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.)

NEW POLL: Arizonans Support Raising Taxes for Public Education

The results are in: a new poll conducted by Stand for Children Arizona shows that 88 percent of Arizonans believe there is a need for additional funding for our public schools. Even more revealing, 66 percent would vote to increase taxes in order to provide additional funding for Arizona’s public schools — up three points from last year.

Voters also support a large investment in education. When given the choice between a detailed $2 billion dollar proposal, a detailed $1.5 billion dollar proposal, or neither, only 18% chose neither. They were evenly split between the larger proposals which included a mix of revenue sources. And for the first time ever, a 1.5 cent sales tax polls higher than just a penny. This is a big deal. Voters and taxpayers are willing to pay more than they ever have for education.

That’s hard to ignore.

When combined with the fact that Arizona spends less than six dollars per hour per student, we believe that now is the time for a big bold move in education funding.

We believe that lawmakers can come together to pass an education funding package this year that addresses immediate needs using the higher-than-expected revenue. However, schools also need a longer-term revenue stream. This can be accomplished through legislative action, a legislative referral, or a citizen’s initiative. What is clear is that Arizonans are ready to fully fund our public schools.

A comprehensive summary of the poll is available for download.

New Survey: Majority Of Arizonans Support Raising Taxes To Pay For Public Education

“We asked voters a lot of questions in different ways because we really wanted to understand voter sentiment, in light of what happened in the public view around education funding in the last 12 months. Voters overwhelmingly, on both sides of the aisle, believe that more needs to be done for education. ”

— Rebecca Gau

Link to the full interview.

Key Dates

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We hope you enjoyed this week’s In the Trenches. We’ll continue to keep you posted on the latest public education reports and how you can help.

Warmly, Rebecca, Stacey, Martin, Liliana, Katherine, Blythe, and Georgina
The Stand for Children Arizona Team

Stand for Children is a non-profit education advocacy organization focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under-tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability.

In order to fulfill our mission, Stand for Children, Inc., our 501(c)4 organization, performs all advocacy and lobbying activities while the Stand for Children Leadership Center, our 501(c)3 organization, manages our parent and family education and engagement programs as well as Stand’s public awareness campaigns.
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