Prop. 123 and other recent state budget changes that helped schools was a good first step, but Arizona needs to do much more, according to the Arizona Education Association.
“What kind of schools do we want?” said Joe Thomas, president-elect of the Arizona Education Association. “If we really mean that we want the best schools in the nation, well then we’re going to have to put ourselves on a financial plan to where we start funding the schools that way.”
Once we get to that revenue into our schools, it needs to be strategically spent, he said.
First, in early education.
“Bring back full-day kindergarten so the state can fund that and getting parents the opportunity to have affordable preschool,” he said.
Second thing we have to focus is highly credentialed, highly effective teachers, Thomas said.
“(We) can’t just let anybody into a classroom and teach,” he said. “You have to have people that have proven one, they know the subject matter, but two they know how to deliver it to students.”
That means raising teacher salaries.
And finally, hiring more teachers so there’s appropriate class sizes.
“You can’t put a teacher in front of 45 kids and expect success out of too many of them,” Thomas said.
If we build better schools, we’re going to have a better product to come out of that, he said.
“Our students are going to be smarter, they’re going to be more well-rounded,” said Thomas, “and that’s directly going to impact the economy.”