Friday, January 27, 2017

Reality Check: Some K-12 and University Funding Numbers

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 2:00 PM

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These state education funding numbers bear repeating, again and again and again, lest we forget that funding for K-12 schools and universities in Arizona plummeted after 2009. Two stories in Friday's Star—both by Howard Fischer, one including the Star's Yoohyun Jung—remind us of that important fact. Lest we forget.

[Unsolicited MSM plug: Support your local mainstream media. If you can afford it, buy a subscription to the Star. No other news outlet in Tucson provides so much information about what's happening at the local, state and national levels. Read it critically, of course, don't accept everything at face value, but if you want to know what's going on, it's essential reading. We need a thriving print media sector now more than ever (cough, Trump, cough). End of plug.]

The first story is about National School Choice Week, a faux-holiday I choose not to celebrate. The article includes a chart showing state funding for K-12 education over the past ten years. The numbers, by the way, aren't adjusted for inflation.
State funding of K-12 education on per-student basis:
Year — amount
2007-08 — $4,949
2008-09 — $4,427
2009-10 — $4,216
2010-11 — $3,894
2011-12 — $3,816
2012-13 — $3,861
2013-14 — $4,108
2014-15 — $4,169
2015-16 — $4,459
2016-17 — $4,529
We cut the largest percentage of our already-low per-student funding in the nation during the recession, and now we're still $400 per student below where we were ten years ago. That amounts to a $400 million yearly cut before adjusting for inflation. (The numbers above, by the way, aren't the total amount Arizona spends per student. That's the amount the state contributes to the total, which is around $7,200, 49th in the nation.)

The other story is about a bill to control our university's "out of control" spending by taking power away from the Arizona Board of Regents. The article points out that the state has cut its university funding in half over the past ten years. In terms of per-student support, it comes close to being a third of what it was a decade ago after adjusting for inflation.
Figures prepared by legislative budget staffers put state aid to the university system at close to $1.1 billion in the 2007-2008 school year. By last school year, the number had dropped to $648 million.

There was a small increase this year, to $681.5 million. But some of that is one-time funding that universities cannot count on going forward.

Looking at it another way, the state’s per-student support in 2007-2008 was $9,648. This year it is $4,098. And if inflation is factored in, the number is closer to $3,500.
An article in the Arizona Capitol Times hammers the number home.
Arizona universities have been the target of incessant budget cuts over the past few years. The reductions were among the steepest in the nation from 2008-2015. The Grand Canyon State fell to 49th among states, with the second worst state university funding per capita, according to Politifact Arizona.
If Governor Ducey wants to claim the mantle of education advocate, his first promise should be, "We will restore funding to 2008 levels," then he can move on from there. Anything less just keeps his face posted on Arizona's Education Wall of Shame.

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