Schools ranked low in funding
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 5, 2006

Mike Cronin

Arizona is ranked second to last in the nation in per- pupil state funding for K-12 education, according to the newest annual report on education by a leading national magazine.

The state also scored below the national average in two of four key grades assigned in Education Week's "Quality Counts 2006" report: efforts to improve teacher quality and resource equity, which measures whether school districts with low property values receive equitable funding.

Arizona was average in another category, school climate, which includes trends such as absenteeism, tardiness, school safety and violent incidents. It scored slightly above average in standards and accountability, likely a reflection of the efforts to require schools to meet statewide standards and hold them accountable through the testing.
The Education Week report has given Arizona low marks in per-pupil funding and other areas in past years. The ranking, along with below-average performance results, is cited by community leaders who argue the state Legislature should provide more money for K-12 education. Opponents of more funding say it will not necessarily solve the problem.

Legislative leaders and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

According to the report, Arizona's per-pupil spending in the 2002-03 school year was $6,282, well below the national average of $8,041. Utah spent the least, with $4,838. Some highlights from the report:

 Arizona scored a B in standards and accountability; a D in efforts to improve teacher quality, which tied for last in the nation with Alaska; C+ in school climate, and D+ in resource equity. It was one of 39 states where property-poor districts tended to receive less than wealthier ones.

 Minority students comprised 51 percent of K-12 students in the state, and children in poverty made up 20 percent.

 Arizona students have a 7 percent lower chance of going to college than the national average.