One of the most powerful aspects of Governor Ducey’s Classrooms First Council is the deliberate intention to hear from leaders in excellent schools who do the work of running schools and educating students every day. We are particularly grateful for the opportunity to advise the Classrooms First Council about what it takes for our A for Arizona leaders to run the most challenging and successful low-income district and charter schools in the state.
We decided to go straight to the source and ask our A for Arizona ‘A’ school leaders what they think is most important for Arizona’s education system. Here’s what we heard from them about school finance reform for Arizona:
- School funding must be the #1 priority.
- Great leaders see bigger gains when they control staffing and the budget. In other words, Governor Ducey’s idea to give excellent principals more autonomy is on target.
- No short-term “band-aid” fixes. The leaders of excellent low-income schools want a comprehensive solution that reduces their administrative burden and puts more money towards high-quality teacher salaries.
- Stop giving districts and charters disparate opportunities. Equalize their funding as much as possible and allow both to earn more for excellent results.
- Reform how we recognize, or “weight”, students’ incremental funding needs. On average, students with special needs and kids living in poverty face unique learning challenges. The funding formula should do a better job funding these challenges, paying their teachers, and maximizing resources for school leaders who do the best work to help students catch up and get ahead.
Our ‘A’ school leaders are doing the best and most difficult education work in the state and can make well-informed contributions to the current school finance reform discussion. We value their advice. Acting on their experience gives us a genuine opportunity to achieve as a state what they have achieved for their communities.