Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Arizona Bottom of the Barrel in Education by AZ Rep Lela Alston

Recent headlines proclaim teachers are “fleeing” the state “in droves,” and pay is a frequently cited reason why.
In an interview with KJZZ, a Mesa Public School teacher and the Arizona Education Association vice president recently said that he’s heard teachers say that they can’t afford to teach here and “districts in other states are recruiting because they know the crisis that we are having.”
The Phoenix Business Journal reported last month that Arizona spends the least amount of money on teacher pay in the country, and Arizona is also at or near the bottom of national lists for classroom instruction spending, per pupil spending and school administration spending.
If we continue to divest in education our spending won’t be the only thing at the bottom of the barrel, so will our students’ potential. As President of the Phoenix Union High School District board I see firsthand the tough choices that need to be made as the state has slashed billions over the last few years.
  • Lower test scores - “The more money invested, the higher the test scores,” said ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy Senior Policy Analyst Dan Hunting.
  • Increase in classroom sizes - a former Phoenix Elementary School District governing board member said in a recent interview that the state budget cuts meant schools had to increase their classroom sizes and freeze teacher compensation. 
  • Student safety impacted - some schools could have to scale back facilities maintenance, security guards and shared nurses.

With so much at stake, why aren’t Republican leaders investing more in education now? We can’t afford to wait.