The Quality Education and Jobs Initiative was filed today with the Secretary of State’s Office. The initiative renews the voter-approved one-cent sales tax to provide dedicated statewide funding for education for students of all ages tied to performance and accountability, scholarships for university and community college students, reinvestment in vocational education and new jobs.
“This added investment from preschool through university represents a game-changer in the quest for quality education and offers voters a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take a giant leap forward,” Cunningham says.
This grassroots-led effort will prevent the Legislature from making any further cuts to K-12 education and reinvests in our state’s education system to prepare our students, teachers and schools for more rigorous academic Common Core standards that will go into effect in the 2015-2016 school year.
“We are expecting more from our students, our teachers and our schools statewide,” says Ann-Eve Pedersen, a parent leader who chairs the Quality Education and Jobs Committee. “To help them succeed and to help our economy grow, we must provide targeted resources to ensure we meet our goals to significantly improve education across the spectrum in Arizona.
“Strong schools, vocational education programs, community colleges and universities help create the strong workforce that makes Arizona attractive to the higher-wage employers we need,” adds Pedersen, president of the Arizona Education Parent Network, a statewide nonpartisan, non-profit organization founded in 2009. “This initiative helps us succeed in strengthening education for students of all ages and meeting goals set by policymakers to increase high school graduation rates, ensure more children are reading at grade level by third grade, improve performance on nationally-normed tests and increase the number of students receiving bachelor’s degrees.”
A percentage of incentive funds will be tied to system-wide performance and will only be released to school districts and charter schools statewide if overall performance improves. Funding for career and technical programs in our high schools and community colleges as well as university funding will also be tied to performance and auditing requirements. A poverty factor will ensure that resources go to school districts and charter schools serving students living in poverty to help them achieve and to fund voluntary preschool programs in those school districts and charter schools.
“This is great news for Arizona university and community college students,” says James Allen, University of Arizona student body president. “This initiative brings real solutions and will ensure we can graduate students to fill the jobs of the future.”
While 80 percent of the resources raised will be dedicated to education, additional components in the measure ensure that there are jobs awaiting students when they graduate and that children come to school healthy, safe and ready to learn. The measure restores KidsCare, a program that provides healthcare for children living in poverty. It also creates the Family Stability and Self-Sufficiency Fund, administered by the Governor’s Office, which provides resources to state agencies and non-profits to help reduce family violence, provide childcare, and reduce hunger and homelessness.
To help create new jobs and protect public safety, the initiative prevents the Legislature from diverting funds from the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) and the Vehicle License Tax.
The HURF funds can continue to be used for highway patrol officers and will help fund transportation projects. The initiative will also create a state infrastructure fund that will help build road, rail and transit projects in our communities – another boost to our economy by creating new jobs and ensuring that modes of transporting goods and people are safe and high-functioning.
“Educating our children will prepare them for quality jobs in the future, but it is also of the utmost importance that jobs are created now for them to fill later,” says Matt Gully, President of Tempe-based FNF Construction and a member of the Board of Directors of the Arizona Chapter-Associated General Contractors. “The preservation of HURF and creation of the infrastructure fund will result in immediate job creation that will help jumpstart our economy’s recovery.”
With today’s filing, the Quality Education and Jobs Committee will immediately begin collecting the 172,809 signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot.
For more information about the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative, please visit qualityeducationandjobs.com or call 1-888-530-2297.