As Arizona legislators develop the budget, education advocates seek public education investment that advances equity by providing more funding for students with the greatest needs and fewest assets.
“It should not be the case that I can travel to any metropolitan city and understand what the trends are for Black children as it relates to literacy and reading issues. These are systemic issues,” said Adenike Huggins, senior director of education policy and advocacy for National Urban League, at the Engaging Arizona in Advancing Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) event in Phoenix.
“We must use opportunities like the Every Student Succeeds Act to re-imagine what education is like for students who are most vulnerable, but also for those who could benefit the most from good quality education, because that’s what equity is,” Huggins said.
When policy makers construct the state’s K-12 education budget, “the preponderance of research suggests we should be focusing on student equity,” said Dick Foreman, president of Arizona Business and Education Coalition during a PBS Arizona Horizon interview. “We clearly have to have some money moving around to where the need is.”
Video by Morgan Willis/AZEdNews: Discussion at Engaging Arizona in Advancing ESSA event
Equality is giving every student the same resources, but equity is giving each student the resources they need to reach the same goal, said Teniqua Broughton, executive director of The State of Black Arizona.
“Equity is the removal of historical barriers,” Broughton said at the ESSA event in Phoenix. “The system was designed and not created in a way that all children can succeed, so we need to remove those barriers and create a system where all students have the necessary resources to reach their potential.”
A poverty or equity weight would add investments or a weighted system to the public education funding formula that would help provide the resources low-income students need to succeed, said Chris Kotterman, director of governmental relations for Arizona School Boards Association.
Kids don’t all start off at the same point, yet they’re all expected to graduate high school – “some start without breakfast, some start without a safe home, some start without a way to get to school every day,” Foreman said
“Until we figure out how to provide some equity so that all Arizona students can achieve all of our expectations, we’re going to continue to have this dysfunctional (education funding) formula,” Foreman said.