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An outside perspective of Arizona’s education system

Arizona is a people magnet.

The population of the state rises more then 1 percent annually, with new families clamoring for schools that are as good as the weather.

Some parents said their child’s school makes them glad they made the move, but national assessments still show that Arizona is below the national average in reading scores.

Terri Conrad, who has led full-day kindergarten in Arizona and Texas and half-day kindergarten in Utah said the full day students really have an advantage.

“They’re getting more hands on,” she said. “They’re getting longer instruction time. Let’s say language arts is 90 minutes versus 60 minutes.”

Conrad said it would negatively benefit the state if funding cuts restricted full-day kindergarten.

“We never touched science when I was in Utah. We didn’t have time. It’s part of the core, we just didn’t have time for it.”

If there’s a conversation where the nation picks on Arizona, it’s money. Carolyn Werner is a consultant that works with Fortune 500 companies on education. The former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction said other states don’t look to Arizona as a funding model.

“Our students are at the very low end of the amount of money that is spent to educate them each year. I think Mississippi is beneath us. That’s it.”