PHOENIX — Only Oklahoma and Alabama made deeper percentage cuts to K-12 education funding than Arizona during the economic downturn, according to a Washington-based think tank.
A recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which describes itself as nonpartisan but is generally regarded as liberal, said Arizona reduced per-student funding by 17.2 percent from fiscal 2008 through fiscal 2014 when adjusted for inflation.
Last year, the center ranked Arizona as having the nation’s deepest cuts education funding, an inflation-adjusted drop of 21.8 percent from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2013.
“It’s been a disaster, the cuts in education,” said state Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Scottsdale, who served on the Scottsdale School Unified District’s governing board for eight years.
Meyer said the state keeps cutting education funding while requiring schools to do more, such as implement the Common Core State Standards and the technology requirements that come with them.
“We cut the funding for soft capital, which is one of the things that could be used to buy supplies that used to buy new books and computers so that we could implement the Common Core,” Meyer said.
Arizona was near the bottom for per-pupil education spending in 2011, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released in May that said the state spent an average of $7,666 per student. The national average was $10,560.
Jonathan Butcher, education director at the Goldwater Institute, an independent watchdog group that promotes limited government and free enterprise, said cuts during the recession are understandable given that education funding accounts for nearly half of the state’s general fund expenditures.
“When you have a state that goes through a financial downturn, where else can they go to make ends meet?” he said.
Despite the cuts, Arizona still spent a lot of money on education, Butcher said, adding that he doesn’t accept the notion that simply spending more would improve the quality of education.
“There are a lot of cost-effective ways to educate students that are cheaper and make the better use of the resources we have,” he said.
Tim Hogan, executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, said citing the recession is a bad excuse for cutting education funding.
“The economy was horrible during that period of time, but the Legislature’s bad attitude toward public schools started a long time ago,” he said.
Debra Duvall, executive director of the group Arizona School Administrators, said that while the cuts have hurt, schools have worked to maintain the performance of students.
“Our students’ achievement is well above third bottom of all the states,” she said. “Our schools and teachers and school districts are doing a lot with the few dollars that they receive.”
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier