Arizona voters see education as top issue
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Arizona voters see education as top issue, surpasses immigration as top priority

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  • Jennifer Liewer/Stand for Children Arizona


After several years of other issues taking the spotlight in the State of Arizona, a recent survey commissioned by Stand for Children Arizona reveals a rapid increase in concern among Arizona’s voters regarding education.

For the first time in over two years, education has surpassed immigration as the top issue in Arizona.

Arizona voters see education as top issue, surpasses immigration as top priority GirlsTabletThe statewide survey, conducted over four days in the beginning of June, focused on likely voters and was reflective of the predicted 2016 general election turnout based on political party, age, gender and geographic location.

  1. What do you consider to be the top issue facing the state of Arizona today?

36.2%    Education

26.6%    Immigration and Border Issues

14.2%    Jobs and the Economy

6.8%      State Budget

5.6%      Healthcare

4.6%      Other

2.0%      Taxes

0.8%      Transportation

3.2%      Don’t Know, Refused

“We are facing a major challenge to educate the quality, competitive workforce we need to support Arizona’s long-term success,” said Craig Barrett, Stand for Children Advisory Board Chair. “It’s something that the education and business communities have been concerned about for some time and it’s now finally reflected in the attitudes and concerns of Arizona voters.”

Arizona voters see education as top issue, surpasses immigration as top priority StandForChildrenArizonaLogoOver 69% of Arizona voters believe that K-12 Education in the state of Arizona is heading in the wrong direction.  In fact, a majority of the Arizona electorate believes that education is definitely heading in the wrong direction.

Paul Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation and Stand for Children Advisory Board Member states, “We know that it will take increased public and political will to make education a priority in our state and to devote the necessary resources and support to ensure that all students, regardless of zip code, receive a high-quality education.”

  1. In general, would you say that K-12 education in the state of Arizona is heading in the right direction, or the wrong direction?

54.2%    Definitely wrong direction

15.0%    Probably wrong direction

13.2%    Probably right direction

5.6%      Definitely right direction

12.0%    Don’t Know, Refused     

The statewide survey of 500 likely Arizona voters was conducted on June 1-4 and has a 4.4% margin of error with 95% confidence.  (Survey attached.)  It was conducted the same week Governor Ducey announced the first details of his proposal to use the State Trust Fund to fund education.

Rebecca Gau, Executive Director of Stand for Children Arizona, explained, “We applaud Governor Ducey in his efforts to bring forward more money for education.  Our survey shows that leveraging the State Trust to fund education is a concept that is well received by the voters.  We tested a ballot issue similar to the Governor’s proposal and it shows promise.”

  1. Arizona’s Permanent Endowment Trust Fund has grown from $1 billion in 2000 to over $5 billion dollars in 2014. Under the constitution, the annual distribution from the funds to the state budget is limited to 2.5%.  Would you support an amendment to our State Constitution to permit that up to $2 Billion dollars of the permanent trust endowment fund be brought forward to pay for current and future needs in K-12 and university education?

33.2%    Definitely Yes

28.0%    Probably Yes

13.4%    Probably No

13.6%    Definitely No

11.8%    Don’t Know, Refused

“This is also an opportunity for our state to raise the quality of our education system across the board in an aspirational and thoughtful manner,” said Gau.

Arizonans understand if we want to improve student achievement, we must increase teacher pay to attract and keep the best teachers for our students.  The survey shows that over 75% of Arizona voters deem increasing teacher pay as an important issue.

Gau went on to say, “Paying quality teachers is a responsible investment in our education system.  We should capitalize on this opportunity to make Arizona’s teacher pay competitive. There is also a broad desire to improve the performance of lower performing schools and ensure they are eligible to receive additional funding to achieve these goals.”

“We have seen in other places that added resources dedicated to good teachers can make a tremendous difference.  That is why we support the idea of using additional resources to pay quality teachers more money to work in failing/challenged schools – a notion backed by 73% of Arizona voters,” said Gau.


Proposed Reforms Mean % Not at all Important –> % Very Important % DK,Ref
 1 2 3 4 5
Q. Raising the quality of our education system across the board 4.55 1.8% 1.4% 8.2% 17.0% 71.0% 0.6
Q. Raising student achievement across the board 4.37 1.2% 1.8% 1.4% 13.4% 23.6% 0.0%
Q. Improving the performance of lower performing schools 4.28 1.4% 1.4% 16.0% 29.6% 50.2% 1.4%
Q. Fixing failing schools 4.14 2.8% 2.6% 20.0% 25.6% 47.0% 2.0%
Q. Increasing teacher pay 4.11 4.6% 6.2% 13.0% 25.6% 49.8% 0.8%
Q. Paying quality teachers more money to work in failing/challenged schools 4.07 3.8% 3.6% 17.0% 31.4% 42.0% 2.2%
Q. Increasing teacher pay based on performance 3.96 7.2% 4.6% 16.0% 28.4% 43.0% 0.8%


Ensuring that school funding formulas take into consideration family incomes has also proven to be a powerful reform effort and there is broad support within the electorate that supports this idea.

  1. Arizona calculates funding for various school districts based on a formula that takes into account number of students, size and location of the district, special education needs, and other criteria.  Arizona’s formula does not account for student family income.  Adjusting funding to reflect a higher cost of education for low income students is a common practice in at least 30 other states.  Should Arizona include a poverty criteria in the funding formula to increase funding for schools in low income areas?

43.4%    Definitely Yes

26.8%    Probably Yes

11.2%    Probably No

13.8%    Definitely No

4.2%      Don’t Know

0.6%      Refused

Gau concluded, “Once again, we thank Governor Ducey for his leadership as we work to solve the largest problem facing our state.  We look forward to working with him and other community partners to increase funding for education in pragmatic ways, and ensure a better return on our investment. Students deserve nothing less.”

Stand for Children is a nonprofit advocacy organization that focuses on empowering and educating parents, teachers and community members to become active leaders who will serve as a voice for children at the state and local level. Our mission is simple: to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education. For more information, visit

For more information, please contact Jennifer Liewer, marketing & communications director for Stand for Children Arizona at 602.753.0962 or  602.920.6461 or