PHOENIX — Teachers were back at the Arizona State Capitol last week demanding better funding for our state's schools. It's part of the "Invest in Ed" initiative.
"We are still ranked at the bottom and that is unacceptable for our kids," explains Kathy Hoffman, Arizona's State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
For now, Hoffman and her office aren't taking any sides on that proposal or any other specific plan that's out there. She's just happy there's a dialogue about what Arizona can do today to help for tomorrow.
"We can tell a lot is still needed."
As for Governor Doug Ducey's "20 by 2020" plan, Hoffman says it's a good start, but more needs to be done.
"Districts are having to pull from other pots of money to make sure they are fulfilling their promises to teachers for that full 20% raise."
And that means some key programs are on the chopping block or may already be gone. Hoffman cites what's happened at schools in Superior.
"They are prioritizing having a pre-school program and a full day of kindergarten for all students that want it. But with that choice, they do not have art and music."
Teacher pay and per-student funding still remain at the lowest levels compared to other states. Hoffman worries what we don't pay for now could end up costing us even more in the future, especially as more companies look to relocate to Arizona.
"I do go out and speak to business leaders as well. This is an issue of economic development and economic opportunity for our state. We are talking about the future workforce, but we are also talking about current jobs."