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Governor’s plan is one step in a long staircase toward better Arizona education

Craig Barrett

Craig Barrett

For years, education has taken a back seat to other issues during election season. However, since the 2014 election, education has become the top concern for voters in our state.

In a recent survey commissioned by Stand for Children Arizona, we found 36% of likely voters name education as their top concern, compared to 26% concerned with immigration and border issues and 14% concerned with jobs and the economy.

For years, education and business groups have known the challenge Arizona faces: Over two-thirds of Arizona jobs will require some sort of post-secondary education or training in the next decade, yet too few of our students are reaching those levels.

Now, the voters are beginning to understand the severity of the problem.

Recent survey data of likely voters shows over 69% of Arizona voters believe that K-12 Education is heading in the wrong direction.

Stand for Children Arizona is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that believes all children should have access to an excellent education that prepares them for college and careers in the 21st century. To get there, we work to ensure all students have effective teachers and leaders, and have sufficient funding, used wisely.

Rebecca Gau

Rebecca Gau

We applaud Governor Ducey in his efforts to bring forward more money for education. Our survey shows that leveraging the State Trust to fund education is a concept that well received by the voters. We tested a ballot issue similar to the governor’s proposal and it shows promise with 61% of Arizona voters in support.

Governor Ducey’s proposal is a good start and presents a significant opportunity to provide resources to help fix failing schools, and raise the quality of the education system across the board.

This proposal is a step in the right direction but the staircase is long. We need more, and Arizona voters are ready for it.

Helping grow Arizona’s workforce means raising up students who have already fallen behind, often due to the effects of poverty, and encouraging our best teachers to use their talents in these difficult situations. Based on this survey, Arizonans understand that resources and teachers are the key to student success, and Arizona’s future.

Research shows more than 73% of Arizona voters support the idea of using additional resources to pay quality teachers more money to work in failing or challenged schools. They also support additional funding to reflect a higher cost of education for low income students – a common practice in at least 30 other states.

A full 70% believe that Arizona should increase funding for schools in low income areas.

Once again, we thank Governor Ducey for his commitment to standing up and starting to solve the largest problem facing our state. We look forward to working with him and other interested parties to increase funding for education, and ensure a better return on our investment. And, providing every Arizona student the best education possible.

—  Craig Barrett is advisory board president for Stand for Children Arizona. Rebecca Gau is the group’s executive director.

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