Print Print |

Read Our 4th Quarter Newsletter – October – December 2017

Click here for our latest newsletter detailing what’s happening with the Arizona Grandparents Ambassadors this quarter.

Teacher Shortage is Reaching Critical Levels in Arizona

One hundred thirty five school districts and charter schools report ongoing challenges with Arizona’s teacher shortage in the third annual survey from the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association. This year, more than half of the identified teacher position openings remain vacant or are filled using alternative methods four weeks into the school year:

  • More than 500 teachers have already abandoned their jobs or resigned, up 13% over last year.
  • 1,328 teaching positions remain vacant
  • 2,491 teaching positions have been filled with people who don’t meet standard teaching requirements

The crisis means that many students are learning from long term substitutes and many teachers don’t have time to pay attention to each student because they are teaching combined and larger classes, curriculum in combined grades or extra classes with no time to plan.

The Morrison Institute report has documented low teacher salaries and difficult working conditions like these as large contributors to the shortage.

Last year, Children’s Action Alliance and AZ Schools Now brought specific proposals to Governor Ducey and the legislature to strengthen investments in classrooms and to boost teacher pay by 4% each year. The final budget they adopted included only a 2% bonus over two years. As the teacher shortage crisis continues, join us in demanding a statewide plan with resources to make our public education stronger.

Funding for AZ Public Schools Continues to Shortchange K-12 Students

Public school students are still receiving less support from state funds, when adjusted for inflation, than they were 10 years ago. When adjusted for inflation, today’s per student funding is $27 lower than it was in fiscal year 2009.

Looking just at the funding formula – those state, local and federal dollars that go to all district and charter schools based on the number of students – today’s per student funding is $499 lower than it was in fiscal year 2009. This is even after the $188 million increase in the distribution from the state land trust (Prop 123) which will expire in 7 years.

With the growth in the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA)s, which are funded in the K-12 formula but go to students enrolled in private schools or other non-public school settings, the amounts reported now exclude those scholarships. For this fiscal year, the estimate is that $63 million will go to ESAs.

Spending outside the funding formula includes funding that benefits specific schools, such as new school construction and building renewal grants and early literacy grants. The $37 million in results-based funding that will go to the highest performing schools is also outside the funding formula.

See our chart showing how funding has changed over the last 10 years here.

Reserve Your Seat Today for Our Annual Through the Eyes of a Child Luncheon

Tickets are now available for Children’s Action Alliance’s flagship fundraising luncheon, New Beginnings: Through the Eyes of a Child, held Friday, November 3rd at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix.

We hope you will join us as we honor Cindy McCain for her leadership fighting human trafficking and Dr. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu for her devotion to Refugee women and children.

This annual event is your opportunity to support our continued efforts to serve as a voice for Arizona’s children through advocacy, education and community outreach and spend an afternoon networking with colleagues and leaders from the business and public policy community.

Thanks to you, we can continue our focus on Arizona’s children and their families.

Purchase individual tickets or a table here. 

Senator John McCain Stands for AZ and Says No to Graham-Cassidy Repeal

Across Arizona, families with children, seniors, people with disabilities, children in foster care, parents with pre-existing conditions, and children with special needs thank John McCain for standing with his Grand Canyon state and announcing he will vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy Repeal bill.

In his statement, McCain said, “I cannot, in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried.”

Please take a moment today to call or email John McCain and thank him for his commitment:

  • Thank you for rejecting a proposal that punishes Arizona.
  • Thank you for standing up for a bipartisan process that can make our health care stronger.
  • Thank you for your commitment to give Arizonans and Americans more long term security about their health care.

See this fact sheet that describes the bill and the impact it would have on Arizona.

It’s important that senators across the country hear strong voter support for McCain’s principles.

Feel free to copy and paste these “tweets” for Twitter below:

@SenJohnMcCain stands for AZ, saying GOP & Dems can do better working together on health care reform
@SenJohnMcCain’s principles are on point: GOP & Dems must work together to make health care reform better for the American people

 

The New School Year Has Begun: Help Ensure AZ Public Schools Get the Support They Need

In just 90 days, a group of volunteers called Save Our Schools Arizona collected more than 111,000 petition signatures to put a hold on the expansion of Arizona’s school voucher program (called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts) that would divert millions of tax dollars from public to religious and other private schools, giving Arizona voters an opportunity to decide whether to keep the legislation when they go to the polls in November 2018.

Proponents of school vouchers, with funding from out-of-state special interest groups, have already filed at least two lawsuits trying to get the thousands of signatures these volunteers gathered from Arizonans across the state thrown-out on technicalities. While this works its way through the legal process, you can still demonstrate your support for public education in Arizona by signing the Strong Schools Pledge.

With the Strong Schools Pledge, individuals, organizations and businesses can tell the Governor, the legislature, and all those running for office that we support a strong, vibrant Arizona economy by:

  • Increasing revenue for our public schools to create sustained and dedicated funding to expand and stabilize our workforce of qualified teachers, provide critical tools for classrooms, and repair and maintain school facilities,
  • Repealing the taxpayer-funded ESA voucher expansion because Arizona cannot afford to fund two education systems: one public, one private.

Sign the pledge today.

See what we mean when we say the $1.1 billion deficit that has not been restored to our public schools since the Great Recession.

More information is available on ESA vouchers in our policy brief.

 

Southern AZ Congressional Reps Grijalva and McSally Announce Support for Arizona Grandparents Raising Grandkids and Other Kinship Families

Southern Arizona’s two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Raul M. Grijalva and Martha McSally, today joined the Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors (AZGA) to announce their support for Arizona grandparents raising grandchildren and other kinship families.
Grijalva (D- AZ) and McSally (R – AZ) plan to introduce a bipartisan resolution on the floor of the House when they return from recess, declaring September as “National Kinship Caregivers Month.”

The intent of the resolution is to draw attention to the growing number of children being raised by grandparents, and other family members and the challenges they face. Nationwide, 2.6 million adults are raising their grandchildren or other family members. Children benefit from growing up with people they know and love when they can’t live with their parents due to medical issues, domestic violence, imprisonment, or other crises. Many kinship families face financial challenges, health and housing issues, and the impact of the trauma the children have experienced.

AZGA is a statewide network of grandparents raising their grandkids who have engaged in important efforts to change public policy in Arizona. Members have worked closely with Governor Ducey and the state legislature to remove barriers to financial support and improve the stability of kinship families.

AZGA will host its statewide summit on September 9th at the Kroc Center in Phoenix and invite others to join them. You may click here to register; the deadline is August 31st.

Register Now for the 2017 Grandparents Summit in Phoenix

Join Children’s Action Alliance and the Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors for the 2017 Grandparents Ambassador Summit, taking place next month in Phoenix.

This one-day program is energizing and packed with useful information, tips for grandparents raising grandchildren and other kinship families, interactive workshops and friendship building experiences.

All kinship families are welcome, whether you are a licensed foster family through the Department of Child Safety or have an informal placement in your home. Professionals are also welcome to attend.

Free child care for children over 6 months of age is available. The cost to attend is just $5, which includes lunch. Sign up online.

Additionally, we are sharing our newly updated  for kinship families: Help for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and Other Caregivers. This booklet is filled with current information on benefits available to kinship families and which agencies to contact for assistance with a variety of issues.

Thank You for Fighting for Health Care for Arizona Families!

Thank you for being a voice for Arizona children and families in the fight for affordable health coverage. Click the image below for a brief video message:


You can personally reach out to Senator John McCain’s office and send him a note of thanks for standing up for Arizonans by filling in this contact form online.

We ask our community partners and the public to continue to stay involved, as health care reform will be an ongoing issue in Congress in the coming months.

Happy New Year! Fiscal Year, That Is

This month marks the beginning of Arizona’s new fiscal year. What do you think fiscal year 2018 looks like compared to ten years ago? You may be surprised!

• General revenues to the state are below where they were 10 years ago – despite population growth of more than 650,000.

• The Rainy Day fund balance is $240 million LESS than it was ten years ago. It doesn’t look like we’re ready to weather the next recession.

• Ten years ago, $55 million was being diverted to private schools through the private school tuition tax credit; in 2018 that amount has more than tripled with the addition of two more tax credits plus the empowerment scholarship vouchers.

• Basic state aid funding for public schools has dropped more than $300 per student – that’s not even taking inflation into account.

• The corporate income tax rate is down; so are total state appropriations as a share of our economy.