Check out the Cradle-to-prison-pipeline for more on how factors like child poverty, illiteracy and adult incarceration are entwined. AZ used to project new prison growth based on our children's third grade reading scores - perhaps we still do. That should tell you a lot.
The following stats are from a March 2012 slide show addressing literacy and crime by the AZ Department of Education...
Children's Action Alliance Press Release:
Arizona School Funding Cuts Are the Nation's DeepestSeptember 4, 2012
PHOENIX - Arizona's deep cuts to school funding since the start of the recession rank as the worst in the country, according to a new study. Unless restored, the cuts will put Arizona's economy and long-term prosperity in jeopardy.
Arizona's investment in K-12 schools is 21.8 percent below 2008 levels in per student dollars adjusted for inflation, meaning our state has made the deepest education cuts in the nation, according to a report released today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.
"Legislators have pretended that education and accountability can be improved while they drastically slash resources," said Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of Children's Action Alliance. "Parents and voters know that just isn't true. Our leaders are setting Arizona up for failure."
The Legislature's cuts would have been even more devastating if not for the voter-approved 1-cent sales tax increase passed in 2010, which is set to expire in 2013, said Ann-Eve Pedersen, Chairwoman of The Quality Education and Jobs Initiative (Prop. 204). If approved, the initiative would renew the sales tax to provide a sustainable funding source for schools that legislators can't cut.
"Arizona ranking at the bottom of this list should be a wakeup call to every parent, voter and business owner in this state," said Pedersen. "Voters will have a chance to do something about this in November. We can strengthen our economy and be more competitive by improving the quality of education in this state."
The Arizona Legislature's has cut approximately $1 billion from education over the past four years. Arizona's revenues are now increasing, but lawmakers have done little to restore the cuts. According to the report, steep state-level K-12 spending cuts will have serious negative consequences for the nation, and restoring funding should be an urgent priority.
"Across much of the country, kids are going back to school to find more crowded classrooms, and - in some cases -- shorter school weeks," said Phil Oliff, policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of the report released today. "That's no way to develop our future workforce and build a strong economy."
The cuts have hurt the state's economy in the short- and long-term, Oliff said. The cuts have extended the recession by causing both public- and private-sector job losses. The funding cuts have forced school districts throughout Arizona to lay off teachers and support staff, reduce pay for the remaining staff, cut back on classroom equipment and supplies, and cancel contracts with private businesses.
Reducing investment in schools also has long-term economic consequences. A strong education system is essential to creating and maintaining a thriving economy. Businesses need a well-educated workforce, and education cuts undermine the state's ability to produce workers with the skills needed to compete in a global economy, Oliff said.