A Core American Value
As a career educator and former classroom teacher, as well as the mother of two daughters who are working teachers in our public schools, my views on education have been formed by years of practical experience.
In recent years, Arizona consistently ranks at, or near, the bottom of all fifty states in terms of K-12 education spending per child!
Restoring adequate funding support for K-12 public education is a must! A quality education is the key opportunity for every child to become a successful and contributing member of our society. It is the responsibility of all of us Arizonans to show our respect for the dignity of each and every child by providing them the means to make the most of themselves.
We need to restore the millions of dollars the Republican-led legislature has withheld from our public school system. These cuts have created turmoil in every school in our state by denying students the quality education to which they have a right and we are obligated to provide them. The legislature's reckless assault on our educational institutions has resulted in school closures, elimination of hundreds of teacher positions, and overcrowded classrooms without even the minimal instructional supplies needed to adequately teach our children.
In light of all this, do we wonder why such a high percentage of our students fail to make adequate yearly progress academically?
Educators widely agree that full-time Kindergarten is essential in order for all of our children to be reading by the third grade. First Things First, the measure approved by voters in 2006, must be reinstated if we want every Arizona kindergartener to come to school with the readiness skills that will enable him or her to meet age-appropriate learning expectations.
Adult Education, an important part of lifelong learning, is a right of every citizen and a collective asset to our state. 800,000 adult Arizonans don't have a high school diploma, which is required for higher education, military service and many jobs. Adults without a high school diploma earn $8,000 less per year on average, resulting in both a loss of income for them and a loss of tax revenue for the state. Revenue that could be used to support our education system!
Paula Stuht, Vice President of Business Development for the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, adds: "The economic impact of not educating the nearly 800,000 Arizonans who do not have a high school diploma is enormous. The elimination of adult education will prevent the development and re-training of twenty-five percent of Arizona's workforce."
The GED program is an excellent opportunity for everyone who was unable to finish high school, for whatever reason, to gain the personal and economic benefits that come to those who have completed a secondary education. One-in-five of our high school graduates last year were GED recipients.
The legislature's shortsighted elimination of these programs--intended to save the state four million dollars--actually cost the state a loss of three times that amount in Federal funding for these very programs!