Now that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has won primary elections in five states, she is turning her focus toward K-12 education in the state of Arizona through a blitz of 30-second ads.
“Arizona schools rank 45th in the nation, dead last in funding per student,” the ad states. “Hillary knows our kids deserve better, education means a good job, a decent living.”
The ad continues to show Clinton posing with children and high school graduates waving their diplomas set to upbeat music.
The video then continues to portray an overview of her education platform, including universal pre-kindergarten education, empowering teachers, and helping students gain a college education without “crushing debt,” writes Miriam Wasser for The Phoenix New Times.
Research from a January 2016 Education Week ranking was used to make the claim that the state is ranked just 45th in the nation. The ranking system made use of several variables, including finance, achievement, and chance for future success.
The claim of coming in last for per-student funding came from the statewide nonprofit Arizona School Boards Association.
Clinton campaign spokesman Tim Hogan said both claims came from the Education Week report, which used data from a number of federal agencies including the US Education Department, the US Census Bureau, and the US Commerce Department.
The data shows the state spending $7,733 on each student, which is almost 35% less than the national average of $11,841 per student. Numbers are adjusted for differences in regional costs.
Data from the US Census Bureau show the state ranking 49th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for student spending in the fiscal year 2013. Utah came in last, ranking 51st with per-pupil spending of $7,084, reports Anthony Cave for PolitiFact.
“That’s the sad reality, the lack of investment in human capital,” said Arizona School Boards Association Executive Director Timothy Ogle.
A separate 2015 report from Education Week found the state to be ranked 49th in the nation when it comes to the number of three and four-year-olds enrolled in preschool and last concerning the number of three and four-year-olds enrolled who live below the poverty line.
“[Clinton’s] proposal would work to ensure that every 4-year-old in America has access to high-quality preschool in the next 10 years,” a statement from her campaigns says. “It would do so by providing new federal funding for states that expand access to quality preschool for all 4-year-olds.”
The campaign will release three ads in total. Alongside the one titled “Better,” which focuses on education in the state, “Gabby” will discuss gun control in the state and feature former Rep. Gabby Giffords who was shot in the head in 2011 as a result of an attempted assassination while speaking in Tucson, Arizona. The final ad, “Brave,” will discuss the issue of deportation, writes Rebecca Savransky for The Hill.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is currently Clinton’s main rival, is also making a push for better early childhood education in the state and nationwide. In 2014, he told his state’s Legislature that how the youth of America is educated is possibly the most important topic facing the nation. He went on to say that he feels the country may be failing their youth and that high-quality and widely accessible early childhood education needs to be a priority.