Arizona Ranks 49th in K-12 Funding, Again

Arizona Ranks 49th in K-12 Funding, Again

This week, the Education Law Center released its annual “Making the Grade” report, which analyzes and ranks public education funding across the states.

Once again, Arizona is listed nearly last in per-pupil funding and dead last in funding effort. Only Idaho funds their public schools worse, with Arizona ranking behind 49 states and the District of Columbia. Arizona’s per-pupil spending from the state and local sources is only $10,670 — a full $5,461 behind the national average. This means that Arizona is $5.5 billion behind the national average every year, and Arizona students only receive 66% of the educational investment as compared to their national peers. 

Money matters for education. By disinvesting in their education, Arizona lawmakers are actively depriving students of critically needed resources, experiences, services, and materials that are available to their peers in our neighboring states and across the US. Arizona students are denied small class sizes, trained educators, additional supports, and extracurriculars. The reality is clear: in order to receive a fully funded education, Arizona students would have to leave the state. Arizona’s 1 million students deserve so much better from our leaders.  

Time and time again, Republican lawmakers insist they are funding Arizona’s public schools, and point to false arguments around administrative bloat and misspending — ignoring the fact that there is no money for bloat, and there is no money to misspend. This insistence has been paired with massive tax cuts for the wealthy and universal ESA voucher schemes — both of which are breaking Arizona’s budget, and both of which are robbing Arizona’s public schools. 

Make no mistake, this defunding is by design and part of the playbook to defund, discredit, and dismantle public schools across the country. Every single one of the 11 worst states in this ranking has suffered from massive voucher schemes being forced onto their state. Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Utah, Arizona, and Idaho have become the cautionary tale of what happens when your public schools are defunded to the bone — and the privatizers descend (as they were always planning to do) to pick the bones clean. 

Year after year, Arizona voters tell us they want fully funded and well-resourced public schools. They want to raise teacher pay and reduce class sizes. They know that there is a glaring need for funding. According to a new poll from Stand for Children Arizona, the vast majority of Arizona voters expressed a desire for more funding for public schools, with 73% agreeing more funding is needed and 55% agreeing there is a “great need.”

Arizona parents, educators, students and, community members are tired of being a national embarrassment. We call upon the Republican legislative majority to prioritize funding public education, or Arizona voters will replace them in November 2024. 

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