In his inaugural address, the 23rd governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, promised “serious reform” of public schools in the state.
In addition, the new governor reiterated his pledge for “opportunity for all,” discussing his plan to increase parents’ options in school choice and their ability to enroll their child in whichever school they choose.
“Opportunity for all: This was the defining commitment of my campaign. And you won’t hear me changing the subject these next four years,” Ducey said. “It is not for the state to assure success. But we can promise, and I do, that this state is on the side of your success.”
Ducey did not delve into great detail pertaining to his agenda. That information will be released during his State of the State address on January 12, with the unveiling of his first executive budget proposal scheduled to be released a few days after that.
However, several points were emphasized pertaining to what his agenda is likely to focus on, with one of the top priorities being on the expansion of opportunities within the K-12 education program. While the new governor does believe that the state has some of the best schools in the country, many children do not have access to these schools because of the long waiting lists. Ducey stated that the same schools available to higher income parents should be available to everyone, reports Mary Jo Pitzl for AZ Central.
“You and I are not the first to notice the unfairness of it all. But if we act, with serious reform in our public schools, we can lead the way in setting it right,” he said.
While he continues to vow to “fully fund the wait lists” at top public and charter schools in the state, it is still unclear how he intends to do so. One thought is that charter schools would be allowed to bond under the state’s credit, which would reduce costs associated with building new facilities. It is also believed he may consider making it easier for charter schools to purchase unused buildings from public schools in the state, writes Jeremy Duda for The Arizona Capitol Times.
“No matter how much we grow in prosperity, the right to a real education will not depend on family wealth or sheer luck. It will be a first principle of my agenda that schools and choices available to affluent parents must be open to all parents, whatever their means, wherever they live. Period,” Ducey said.
While Ducey’s plans met with approval by some, others worry about his ideas of “tightening Arizon’s belt” in terms of budget cuts for the state, and what they could mean for the education system.
“For me, that means more cuts to education. When you look at the budget we have a billion-dollar deficit, and in order to take that somehow out of the budget, we’re talking about education or health care cuts. I hope that isn’t the case. We’ll see in his budget next week. But it’s a little concerning for me,” said Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley.