Governor Doug Ducey celebrated School Choice Week by focusing on educational options and resources and building on the commitments made in his recent State of the State address to Arizona lawmakers.
“If you want to see a governor’s values, take a look at a governor’s budget,” Governor Ducey said Wednesday in an interview with Telemundo about the priority he places on education. “The number one investment line in Arizona’s budget is K-12 education.”
The Governor’s comments came during a visit to Phoenix Christian Preparatory School, where he was warmly welcomed by kindergarten children before speaking to upper classes and touring the campus with Superintendent Jeff Blake. Earlier that day, Governor Ducey met with leaders of 10 Arizona community colleges and visited Arizona Autism Charter School on Monday.
In Arizona, we are committed to broadening school choice, providing students with all the tools they need to be successful and supporting our hardworking teachers, Governor Ducey said. “We will continue to make targeted investments that put students, especially our kids in K-12, on the path to success.”
In his state of the state speech on January 10, Governor Ducey highlighted a number of innovative proposals aimed at bolstering education in Arizona. They included:
“We congratulate Governor Ducey for his focus on real results for every Arizona student and for focusing on significant resources accordingly,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, president and founder of Great Leaders Strong Schools. “This budget proposal ensures that Arizona continues to lead the way in innovation and protects school leaders’ flexibility to drive dollars and create programs that best meet the needs of each student and family.”
The Governor and community college leaders discussed Wednesday how workforce training centers with community college leaders will develop a pipeline of highly skilled talent in the state. Combined with the recently enacted authorization to offer four-year degrees, community colleges are essential educational options for Arizona. Meeting leaders stressed that with more options for skills training, Arizona’s would be prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget defines specific plans to support the state’s strong commitment to public education, expand school choice, and get Arizona students back on track after two years of learning loss caused by the COVID.
For the eighth consecutive year, the budget will increase for each pupil, state funding, completing an investment of $ 11.8 billion in primary and secondary education since 2015.
Combined federal, state and local spending hit record highs during the pandemic. This year’s budget is expected to exceed the current fiscal year’s pro-student funding by $ 14,656, an all-time high for Arizona.
Governor Ducey will have increased Arizona classroom funding by 6.3 percent since 2015, the largest rate hike of any Arizona governor this century. Also under the Governor’s supervision, the construction of 37 new K-12 schools was funded.
But it is on the choice of school that Arizona has “set the standard,” as the Governor in his home state claimed, and this was evident at the Phoenix Christian Preparatory School. More than 550 of the school’s 600 students can attend thanks to options provided to parents through Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) and School Tuition Organization (STO) scholarships. Both programs provide funding to allow students to attend the school that best suits their needs, providing greater flexibility for families.
Arizona Autism Charter School, the other school tour this week, is one of 550 charter schools in the state. Governor Ducey visited the campus with school founder and executive director Dianna Diaz Harrison and then held a panel discussion with school leaders, community members and parents.
Arizona Autism Charter School is one of the recipients of the first round of grants for the modernization of school transportation. Fiscal year 2023 budget invests $ 20 million to revamp grant program that aims to modernize transportation options and strengthen school choice opportunities for children and families in rural communities and all areas of the state .
The Executive Budget also invests in student success, with an additional $ 322 million in primary and secondary education to get children back on track as they recover from the effects of the pandemic and from distance learning.
Arizona children will be involved in math, reading and civics with the “AZ Back on Track” summer camp, an eight-week program. The $ 100 million investment in federal resources will help further mitigate learning loss.
To help close the academic achievement gap, the budget invests $ 58 million to support an evidence-based approach for chronically underperforming and underperforming schools. “Operation Excellence” will equip class D and F schools with multiple pathways and resources to improve.
Schools will receive $ 150 per pupil each year for three years to help implement specific, high-performing, research-based interventions to dramatically improve student achievement.
Operation Excellence will build on other ongoing initiatives aimed at delivering influential outcomes for students. A for Arizona launched a $ 6 million grant opportunity Wednesday to help Arizona public schools that are reinventing educational models.
Arizona has strengthened its leadership in schooling options for students and families by expanding programs for more open enrollment, new transportation models, more charter schools, and more educational freedom for families.
In Arizona, families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnetic public schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and micro schools.
Students and families can go to the school of their choice through Arizona’s Open Enrollment for Public School Districts. A resource for families especially during the pandemic, open membership allows families to pursue the best education for their children.
Schools of Paper
Over the past seven years, Arizona has strengthened its position as a national leader in school selection. The state has more than 550 public charter schools that teach 230,000 students, about 20% of all students enrolled in public schools across the state.
Governor Ducey worked to expand micro-schools across the state. Microschools provide a smaller learning community, adapted to the needs of each student. The Governor has invested $ 3.5 million to create new micro-schools through the Black Mothers Forum. The Black Mothers Forum, led by founder Janelle Wood, helps create innovative new learning models in which students receive personalized support.
Open for learning
In early January, the Governor announced the Open for Learning Recovery Benefit program, which provides parents with the resources they need to bring their children to class.
With this program, if a school closes for even one day, students and families will have access to the education that best meets their needs. The program funds up to $ 7,000 for childcare, school-coordinated transportation, online tutoring, and tuition needs.
The program builds on the Education Plus Up Grant program, announced in August 2021 to increase spending per pupil.