Back-to-School Education Update
As Arizona students return to start a new school year, I want to tell you about the progress we're making strengthening education in Arizona - and what this will mean for our students.
Education has been - and will always be - my number-one priority as Governor. In the past few months, we've seen some exciting progress in strengthening education in Arizona even further.
Last month, I announced the creation of a new center that will work with K-12 schools and higher education to build up a corps of qualified teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math - the "STEM" fields. Students will need to learn these areas to compete in Arizona's future high-tech, high-knowledge economy. Last year, we succeeded at raising standards so Arizona students will graduate high school with more science and math; having good teachers in these fields is critical. Right now there is a national shortage of STEM teachers, so this new STEM Center will focus on creating a pipeline of highly qualified STEM teachers to prepare our students for the future economy.
Even amid the difficult budget choices we faced this year due to the current economic downturn, we produced a balanced budget that preserved resources for K-12 education. And we passed into law a new infrastructure package for our universities - $1 billion in financing for building renovations and new facilities to help accommodate expected enrollment growth. This will help ensure Arizona students have access to the kind of higher education they will need to succeed.
These steps come on top of what we've accomplished in past years to strengthen education - raising teacher pay to attract high-quality teachers, instituting voluntary full-day kindergarten to give our young children the head start they need in education, and expanding student financial aid to help more Arizona students go to college, to name a few.
Even when the budget is tight we continue to take big steps to improve education in our state. I look forward to the next steps we will take together. As always, you can get in touch with my office at (602) 542-1318, or visit my Web site at www.azgovernor.gov for news and information in state government.
Yours very truly,