A Casa Grande Dispatch article dated April 26, 2013 and titled “Gubernatorial race: Melvin’s bid shuffles the deck in District 11” contained a misleading statement. The sentence started with “Melvin’s education plan is built around giving every parent a voucher for $9,000…”
It is not true that the state provides close to $9K per pupil to public schools. Per the Joint Legislative Budget Committee[i], K-12 (M&O, Capital and All Other) funding per student (not adjusted for inflation) has been less than $5K every year since FY04. In FY11, the amount was $3,897 and the estimated amounts for FY12 and FY13 were even less that that. In fact, Arizona leads the nation in cuts to per pupil funding since 2008 – almost 22%.
Senator Melvin has oft lauded the Arizona legislature (himself included) for protecting total education funding at over $9K per student.[ii] Only half the funding however has come from the state. The rest of it has been federal (some of it stimulus funds which have now gone away) or local funding.
Funding alone won’t guarantee quality schools, but neither will starving our public schools of the basic funds they need to operate, let alone excel. In addition, our legislature hasn’t even begun to address (although the Governor has proposed $61M in her budget) the unfunded mandate to implement Common Core Standards ($156M for FY14 plus another $225M one-time cost statewide.) It is beyond time to face the real facts and take real action before it is too late.