What schooling advocates hope to see this legislative session
See what education advocates want to see during this session of the Arizona Legislature that begins Monday, January 10, 2022.
Arizona Education Association president Joe Thomas and Arizona School Boards Association‘s Director of Governmental Relations Chris Kottermann shared their thoughts Arizona horizon host Ted Simons earlier this week.
Video: Arizona Horizon – Jan 4th 2022
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Simons asked the two of them what they expected and would like to see of the Arizona Legislature at this session.
“Well, the first thing I want lawmakers to understand is that every time they write a bill and it’s heard on the committee, they’re talking to educators,” said Thomas. “They say that’s what we want to see from you or that’s what we want to see from schools.”
“This may not be the year to try great new initiatives,” said Thomas.
“We need to focus on having safe schools, access to them, caring for parents and focusing on community work,” said Thomas, noting that this was a good year to have fewer educational bills record.
“But from those we do, I would hope the legislature and the governor focus on keeping loyal employees who have stayed with us – 5 years, 2 years, 10 years, 20 years.” Veterans. We have to focus on keeping them where they are, ”said Thomas.
“How do we create the flexibility at the district level to do what they have to do – closer to the students than the lawmakers – to make sure we can raise our children effectively, but let’s do it so that we take the risk.” minimize the fact that we put students and our teaching staff against each other, ”said Thomas.
Watch AEA President @ AZ1Thomas discuss education priorities for the upcoming legislature on Arizona Horizon. Https://t.co/IYM65C8QsD
– AZ educational association. (@ArizonaEA) January 7, 2022
Simons asked Kotterman if he could realistically expect a change in the formula for government school funding at this meeting and “if so, what would you like to see in relation to that formula”.
“We really need to work to make sure the formula is appropriate for the students to meet their needs where they are,” said Kotterman.
“The two most important ways of doing this are looking at special needs education and looking at what is known as the weight of poverty or the weight of opportunity. Those two problems, if you can address them – and the third would be English learners. I think we still have a lot to do there, ”said Kotterman.
“These three areas in Arizona schools across the state, if you can bring these levels to the level they need to meet student needs, combined with federal funding, you will free up a ton of money that goes to regular students that should go to these students, ”said Kotterman.
“And that’s not your fault. That’s how it’s designed. You have rights. They have the right to a fair education and we must give it to them, but the students who end up falling short in this scenario are the students with no additional need, ”said Kotterman.
“I think if we really focused on these problems, we could solve some of these retention problems, we could solve some of these other salary problems because we could have resources there,” said Kotterman.
“Those are some things we should be able to work on because they are special populations that I think everyone sees the need there instead of saying, oh, we need more money, we need more money, what we do, but acknowledge that we have limited opportunity here to focus on these populations that I think are wise, “said Kotterman.
Arizona House @SpeakerBowers joined Legislative leaders today to preview priorities and predictions for the upcoming session during @AZChamber’s 2022 Law Outlook. # LFL2022 #azleg pic.twitter.com/QnXo711i5S
– Republicans at AZ House (@AZHouseGOP) January 7, 2022
“I don’t know if it’s going to happen because there isn’t the kind of political wind in the legislature to partner with schools as Joe discussed,” said Kotterman.
“But if they took this up, we would be right with them,” said Kotterman.
“Is it money? It seems like education is always about money because Arizona doesn’t spend as much money on education as the vast majority of other states, ”Simons said.
Critics say the performance gap isn’t getting any smaller, so what’s up? Asked Simons.
“When you have one of the largest classes in the country, when you have some of the lowest teacher salaries in the nation, when you have the highest student-to-counselor ratio in the nation, try a lot with a very, very few people,” said Thomas .
“We have to make sure that we are using strategic investments,” said Thomas. “Let’s remember that it was 12 years ago that we fully financed the all-day kindergarten. That would be a very simple solution legally, and it would bring our schools about $ 215 million to $ 250 million that would affect all grades, ”said Thomas.
Senator @Rios_Rebecca “My short list is that I hope Democrats and Republicans come together to invest in water and our public education system and see no additional steps to attack our sacred suffrage.”
– Arizona Senate Democrats (@AZSenateDems) January 7, 2022
“Legislators have a great opportunity at this session to actually fund what we have created in Invest in Ed,” said Thomas.
“You could change it a little. You have nearly $ 900 million in running revenue that will be there year after year, and over $ 1.5 billion is one-time money to use a little. but we can invest in our schools, ”said Thomas.
“Now is the time when we really have to take that into account,” said Thomas.
Then Simons asked if there was some way to start a coalition in the Arizona legislature that would be more education-focused.
“I think there is, but it’s very, very, very slim,” said Kotterman. “Current politics has resulted in not everyone in the legislature seeing school districts as the best way forward, and that’s really unfortunate.”
“I think there are enough Republicans and Democrats out there that you could coalition to at least do what Joe was talking about, which is to make sure things go on normally and don’t get completely out of hand, but it’s one very “lean coalition,” said Kotterman.
Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association (left) and Chris Kotterman of the ASBA (center), discuss what education advocates hope this legislature will happen with Arizona Horizon host Ted Simons (right) on January 4, 2022. Photo courtesy Arizona Horizon