Funding problems, not lack of effort
or determination, are responsible
for Arizona’s bottom-of-the-barrel
ranking in a study comparing the
state’s educational system with
others around the country.
In an Oct. 30 appearance at Corona
del Sol High School, Gov. Janet
Napolitano listed Arizona’s
population boom as a cause of major
funding problems throughout the
“We are not the dumbest state in
America,” Napolitano said. “We have
funding challenges that need to
The study, released in early
October, showed that Arizona spends
only $5,300 per student, while the
national average is $7,000.
Napolitano blamed the state’s steep
population climb and outdated
spending plans as the primary
However, she said the October study
was “cut with a dull knife” and is a
couple years out of date.
Despite this, she insisted,
Napolitano remains dedicated to
making a change.
“We are going to balance the budget
and fully fund K-12 education,”
Napolitano said. “No later than
2008, Arizona will have a full-day,
The governor listed her steps to
improve the education system across
1. Make an effort to ensure that all
students are reading at grade level
by the second grade.
2. Spend more on students who come
from a non-English speaking family.
3. Raise the dropout age.
4. Require every 8th
grader to take an algebra class.
Napolitano wants to implement these
changes in order to educate children
at a young age. She believes that
the earlier a student can read, the
earlier that student can learn.
“We have excellent schools and
excellent school districts,”
Napolitano said. “The legislatures
are the source of the problem.”
Because of this, Napolitano urges
parents and students alike to ask
questions. She wants parents to go
to their school boards and to their
legislatures and ask where the state
money is going.
The governor also stressed the
importance of a college education
and shows this by continuing to give
money to the Arizona universities.
According to Napolitano, over 98.4
percent of jobs that earn over
$27,000 require a college degree.
“Higher education needs to be
excellent and affordable,”
Napolitano said. “Arizona already
has one of the best community
college systems in the country.”
Napolitano also wants to keep
funding arts programs and said that,
in the coming years, Arizona social
studies programs will have the
toughest curriculum in the country.
“We have the smartest kids; let’s
give them the toughest curriculum,”
With all the problems facing the
Arizona educational system,
Napolitano says she sees growth and
results for the near future.
“We need to keep working at it and
we will get it done.”
More than 150 students and parents
attended the program.