Arizona teachers plan more walk-ins as a Thursday strike looms.
New Report Says Arizona Schools Fourth Worst In US
The way WalletHub sees things, Arizona has the fourth worst school system in the entire country.
An analysis of various factors by the financial advice web site released Monday puts only Louisiana, New Mexico and Alaska further down on the list. And only Utah and California had a higher ratio of pupils to teachers.
But Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's press aide Daniel Scarpinato, press aide to Gov. Doug Ducey, was dismissive of the rankings. "The study is baloney," he said.
Scarpinato did not dispute the numbers WalletHub found for the various factors it studied. Aside from being 49th in the nation for pupil-teacher ratio, Arizona was near the bottom in the average ACT score by its students. It also was below average for the high school graduation rate for low-income students and far below average for the dropout rate.
But Scarpinato said the fact Arizona is ranked lower than other states does not really matter. "Many of these states you need to be able to afford a very expensive home in an expensive neighborhood in order for your child to get access to a good school," he said. "In Arizona we have open enrollment. We have school choice that really allows people to get into our best schools."
Open enrollment does allow any Arizona child to access whatever school his or her parents choose. But if they pick a school outside the student's designated geographic district, it must have space available. And it's up to the parent to get their child to that school every day.
Statewide, Arizona has an average of 22.8 students for every teacher.
Scarpinato said that seems high in comparison to other states because some states have decreasing populations. Fewer students, he said, means fewer students per teacher.
Brushing off a question of whether Arizona should be increasing funding to keep pace with rapid student growth, Scarpinato also dismissed the idea that Arizona, which already has made sharp cuts in corporate income taxes, should put a halt to future tax cuts.
"If every other state in the country agreed to the same thing, then that might be one thing. But you have Democratic states where they're lowering the corporate income tax," he said. "We're competing with these other states that are lowering taxes and instituting tax reform."