Over the years, I’ve volunteered in classrooms, presented to city councils and knocked on more doors than I can count. All because I know that every child in our state deserves the opportunity to receive an excellent education. This fall, Arizona voters will have the chance to show that they agree by voting for candidates and issues that will support schools.
With primaries coming up on Aug. 28, followed by the general election on Nov. 6, anyone who casts a ballot has a seemingly daunting number of choices to make. It can be complicated to unpack how different state and local candidates influence education and why you should care. Here are a few examples:
Local school boards: School district governing boards make a wide variety of decisions, ranging from hiring the district superintendent to setting curriculum and managing the district’s budget. They consider salary schedules and disciplinary policies, and the candidates elected will have an immediate impact on neighborhood schools.
State legislators: Arizona’s House and Senate is comprised of 90 members. Those representatives set the state budget, which determines the amount of funds that schools receive. They also create laws related to schools, including school choice policies (charters, open enrollment, etc.) and access to programs such as full-day kindergarten.
Bonds and overrides: School districts in Arizona can put forward bond or override measures for voters living in their school districts. Bonds are typically used to fund larger long-term needs, including building new schools, major renovations on current buildings and purchasing school buses. Overrides, on the other hand, can be focused on everything from teacher salaries and textbooks to art/music education. Voters across the state are also able to decide the fate of referendums and initiatives, many of which have an impact on school funding and rules. For example, Proposition 301 was passed in 2000 and extended in 2018; it provides more than $660 million to schools every year.
My work as an education advocate started with my own children, but it didn’t stop there. Though I no longer have children in our public schools, I still take an active role in improving education in our state, because strong schools create strong communities.
Too many people assume that because they don’t have a direct tie to public schools, they don’t need to worry about it, but education impacts everything. The strength of our education system is linked to property values, health care costs, crime rates, and much more. Your vote will make a difference not only to your neighborhood schools, but also to those around the state and to our city’s economic well-being.
Expect More Arizona is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization working to ensure every child receives an excellent education every step of the way. As a 501(c)(3), Expect More Arizona does not endorse specific candidates or influence the outcomes of candidate elections. For more election resources, visit ExpectMoreArizona.org/vote.