For many years, individuals have been distorting numbers to confuse the issue of whether K-12 schools in Arizona have adequate funding available. This approach has worked in the past to keep funding of our Arizona public schools depressed. The June 8 guest opinion from Sean McCarthy is another example of rhetoric to justify the current low level of funding for K-12 schools in Arizona.
To examine the level of funding for schools in Arizona we must look at all levels of funding, not just selected areas. Individuals can distort numbers all they want and focus in on some numbers but ignore others to say we have no problem or that the problems are not really that bad. Try telling that to the thousands of teachers who marched this spring to protest the level of funding for Arizona public schools. They are not buying it, parents are not buying it, and neither does anyone else.
Moving our per-pupil funding level when adjusted for inflation to the level of 10 years ago would be a modest first step. The good news is that we have started climbing out of the school funding hole that we have created. Both the governor and the Legislature this year started the process to increase funding for our K-12 public schools. Let’s not waste another minute listening to those who prefer to torture the facts and pretend we didn’t have a hole to begin with. The fact is that we are not providing adequate funding for our public schools and our students. Moving to an adequate funding level for K-12 public schools in Arizona will be a long trip. Arizona has started that trip, so let’s not allow the train to get off track because we have a long uphill route that will need us all onboard.
Chuck Essigs is director of governmental relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials.