This is music to the ears of teachers, principals, school and business leaders, and countless others across the state waiting for the outcome of this week’s special election on Proposition 123.
The happy result of this week’s YES on Proposition 123 is an immediate infusion of critical new dollars into our K-12 schools: $224 million in June, $454 million over the next 13 months, and $3.5 billion total over ten years. School leaders across the state can now allocate these new dollars where they are most needed. Our own hope is that the vast majority of these dollars are headed to teacher salaries.
While many are breathing a sigh of relief now that the election is over, no one is resting easy. In fact, the passage of Proposition 123 marks a jumping off point for further action on school funding and achievement. It will come as no surprise that at A for Arizona, we believe one should follow the other. Without the funding lawsuit hanging over the state’s head, we can now resume the vital work of reforming our systems to ensure Arizona schools experience greater and greater academic gains.
To that end, the Governor’s Classrooms First Initiative Council gets back to work, with public proposals due on May 27. We’re excited to see what folks will propose. Any meaningful reform will require compromise and courage – the current formula is rife with tax and revenue inequities, and no plan that pursues high achievement as well as equity for both students and taxpayers can be simple. But neither was 123; simple is overrated.
The legislature and Governor Ducey deserve recognition for already rewarding achievement gains with additional funds in this year's state budget. Now, schools whose students achieve passing scores on college level exams will receive bonuses, with a higher bonus for schools serving low-income students. One of our ideas for a new school funding formula has been to see this concept of additional resources tied to achievement more broadly and we will continue to push for that.
The next chapter for Arizona education is bright. We are gaining in achievement and now we have earned the support of the public in order to gain additional investment. Seems like a solid one-two punch to us. The next steps will be hard won, and our work at A for Arizona will be based on two core beliefs: 1) every school can make the decision and take the necessary action to achieve an ‘A’ and 2) we can not afford to waste the potential of students languishing in schools led by those that won’t.