In a recent statewide survey commissioned by Stand for Children Arizona, Arizonans listed education as their top concern in the state, and the trend seems to be rising higher than it has ever been in the past.
We now see that 36% of likely voters currently identify education as their top concern, compared to 26% who are concerned with immigration and border issues and 14% who are concerned with jobs and the economy.
For years, education and business groups have known that over two-thirds of Arizona jobs will require some sort of post-secondary education or training in the next decade. However, too few of our students are reaching those levels.
Arizonans are beginning to understand the severity of this problem and are concerned. Our survey data shows over 69% of Arizona voters believe that K-12 education in Arizona is headed in the wrong direction. We know that more money isn’t the only solution but after years of recession and lower state revenues, addressing resource needs – particularly of students in communities with high concentrations of poverty – is critical to improving Arizona’s schools and helping our students succeed in the future.
We also found that 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 support the higher cost of education for low income students – a common practice in at least 30 other states.
Our survey also shows that leveraging the State Trust to fund education is an idea that has broad appeal for Arizona voters. We tested a ballot issue similar to the Governor’s recently announced ballot measure proposal and 61% of Arizona voters were in support of it.
Governor Ducey’s proposal is a good start and presents a significant opportunity to provide resources to help fix failing schools while we improve the quality of our education system across the board. We also need to invest in making sure we have the best teachers in the most challenging classrooms and schools. 70% of those surveyed believe that our state should increase funding for those schools in low-income areas.
Again, we thank Governor Ducey for his leadership on this issue as we start to solve the largest problem facing our state. This is a tremendous opportunity, where public sentiment is aligned with best practice, and real ideas are starting to be put on the table.
-Rebecca Gau, Executive Director