Senate Ed discusses civics, CTE funding; House Ed supports raising AEL - AZEdNews
Sections    Friday March 24th, 2023

Senate Ed discusses civics, CTE funding; House Ed supports raising AEL

Rep. David Cook Discusses House Concurrent Resolution 2001 During The House Education Committee Meeting On Jan. 31, 2023. Photo Courtesy Of Arizona Capitol Television

The Senate Education Committee discussed bills about middle school civics instruction, career and technical education funding, and online learning at their meeting today, after the House Education Committee gave a do pass recommendation Tuesday to a bill to raise the aggregate expenditure limit this year.

Arizona Capitol Television: Senate Education Committee meeting 2/2/23

Senate Bill 1054, sponsored by Sen. Rick Gowan, would have the Arizona Department of Education manage a fund to pay for and develop procedures for eligible nonprofit organizations who have instructed students in civics for at least five years to apply to be instructional providers for the Arizona Civics Education and Leadership Development program.

The program would focus on middle school students enrolled in public district, charter and private schools in Arizona and provide instruction what would promote civil service, prepare students for the duties of citizenship, and provide opportunities to identify and debate issues relating to democracy.

House Ed approves bill to raise AEL

The House Education Committee gave a do pass recommendation to Rep. David Cook‘s House Concurrent Resolution 2001 that would raise the aggregate expenditure limit for schools this year during their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023.

Arizona Capitol Television: House Education Committee meeting 2/2/23

The bill would allow schools to use the money the Arizona Legislature allocated to them in June in the bi-partisan budget.

If Legislators do not lift the aggregate expenditure limit, it’s projected that all school districts around the state will have to cut 17% from their budget for a total of $1.3 billion starting on April 1, 2023.

To take effect, HCR 2001 would need to be approved by 2/3 of Legislators.

“I want to echo what (Supt. of Public Instruction)Tom Horne has been down here and said a few times. It’s time to get this fixed, and move on and give parents and families throughout the state certainty,” Rep. Cook said.

Rep. Cook said 90% of students attend public schools, and that many students outside Maricopa and Pima counties do not have access to charter schools, which are not subject to the aggregate expenditure limit.

“This money that has already been budgeted doesn’t cost one penny. I don’t know why it’s taking so long,” Rep. Cook said. “

Rep. Cook also noted that school districts are often the largest employer and economic driver in many small, rural or remote communities in Arizona, so raising the aggregate expenditure limit allows them to continue to provide for their families.

House Education Committee Chair Beverly Pingerelli said she was voting present to move the bill forward, because the “March 1 deadline that is fast approaching.”

“Like many of my colleagues, I’m frustrated with several aspects of education in Arizona. My top concern is academic achievement, rigor in the classroom, and preparedness for higher education and career, and far to often it seems like all the energy in education is in any and all areas except for those principles,” Chair Pingerelli said.

Pingerelli said voting present “signals my general displeasure, while acknowledging the reality that to not allow the AEL to be overidden means certain chaos.”

The bill received a due pass recommendation with at vote of 8 ayes, 1 nay and 1 present. The bill goes next to the Committee of the Whole.

Chandler Unified honored

Chair Pingerelli started the meeting off by recognizing Chandler Unified School District for Excellence in Arizona Education noting that 1,100 juniors scored in the highest proficiency in the math portion of the ACT, double the number of students to do so compared to the next highest district or charter school.

“We educate 3% of Arizona’s school age population,” said Chandler Unified Supt. Frank Narducci, who leads the second largest school district in the state. “On state math and English Language Arts assessments our students continue to out perform their peers and score well above the state average. The success of CUSD students is due in large part to our exceptional staff, strong support from our families, and partnerships with our communities that truly value education.”

Supt. Horne’s State of Education address

Next, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne presented his State of Education address during the meeting, noted the Arizona Dept. of Education is primarily a service organization, and said “If we’re going to focus on academics, we’re going to eliminate all the distractions from academics.”

“Our first priority is to raise test scores,” Supt. Horne said.

“The state of education today is grim. Two thirds of our students are not proficient in math, and 60% are not proficient in reading. That is a real emergency,” Supt. Horne said. “We need to bring a new sense of urgency to dealing with this.”

Also, the House Education Committee gave a due pass recommendation along a party line vote to Chair Pingerelli’s House Bill 2458, which would prohibit public schools and employees from providing students instruction around race and ethnicity that is similar to bills that failed during the last Legislative session. The bill will be heard next by the Committee of the Whole.