- State Senate Candidate -

The future of Arizona depends on providing our children the highest-quality education so that they are prepared to succeed in life and our constantly changing economy. It is our shared responsibility to ensure that every child is prepared with the right problem-solving and technical skills so they can reach their full potential and help drive our state forward to a better future. Currently, Arizona is failing on both fronts.

The Quality Counts report by Education Week gave Arizona’s education system an overall grade of D+, putting the state in 46th place nationwide. “States are graded and ranked in three categories: Chance for Success (January), School Finance (June), and K-12 Achievement (September). A state’s overall grade, published in September, is the average of its scores on the three separate indices tracked for the report card.” Arizona ranks near the bottom on every indicator which affects a child’s ability to earn a quality education:

  • Arizona ranked 46th overall with a score of 69.1/100.
  • Arizona ranked 43rd in the “Chance for Success category,” which evaluates the impact of public education on future outcomes for students (this includes indicators such as early childhood access, graduation rates, post-secondary attendance, parental income, and other development indicators).
  • Arizona ranked 29th in the nation on “K-12 Achievement Index” (this measure combines math and reading test scores, AP achievement, and other performance measures).
  • Arizona ranked 47th in “School Finance” (the measure examines two critical aspects such as per-pupil spending, share of total taxable resources spent on education and funds distribution equity).

Education should be as an equalizer in our society, but years of funding cuts to our public schools, combined with drastic cuts in social services for our most vulnerable children, have undermined our state’s ability to provide every child with the chance to succeed in life. These national rankings reflect the vacuum of leadership we have seen from current elected officials.

It is time for change and a new direction.


Education is not limited to instructional time in the classroom — family involvement, engaged instructors armed with the right tools, and adequate funding are just a few of the elements necessary for a child to succeed in school. We need a new approach to Arizona education. This is why I am putting forth a policy proposal to support our future generations in achieving such goals. AZ Forward will transform education and promote economic opportunities for all Arizona students.

Data Insights

A survey conducted on three groups in the State of Arizona discovered insights about education. The same ten survey questions were asked of two groups of people:

Group 1: Everyone, regardless of political ideology, live in Arizona.

Group 2: Lean liberal, live in Arizona

Group 3: Lean conservative, live in Arizona 


Arizona population demographics (census.gov):


Population | Male — 50% | Female — 50%

Age | 18 to 25–9% | 26 to 35–14% | 36 to 45–12% | 46 to 55–11% | 55+ — 29%

Ethnicity | White/Non-Hispanic — 70% | Latino/Hispanic — 31% | Black/African American — 5% | Asian — 3.45% | American Indian — 1% | Other — 4%

Annual Income | Up to $25,000–18% | $25,000 to $50,000–21% | $50,000 to $100,000–30% | Above $100,000–31%

Survey Respondents

Respondent demographics:

Population | Male — 44% | Female — 54% | Non-Binary — 2%

Age | 18 to 25–2% | 26 to 35–21% | 36 to 45–6% | 46 to 55–13% | 55+ — 13%

Ethnicity | White/Non-Hispanic — 82% | Latino/Hispanic — 6% | Black/African American — 6% | Asian — 3% | American Indian — 2% | Other — 1%

Annual Income | Up to $25,000–17% | $25,000 to $50,000–22% | $50,000 to $100,000–41% | Above $100,000–15%

Respondent demographics provide a reasonable sample when compared to the Arizona population.

The following questions were ranked on a scale of 1–5:

1 = Strongly Disagree | 2 = Disagree | 3 = Neutral | 4 = Agree | 5 = Strongly Agree

Respondents from both surveys were closely related which indicates a common perspective on Arizona education. Mostly neutral is considered a middle point for responses which indicates half agree and half disagree.

Question Analysis

Please state your agreement with the below statements that best describe your experience with Arizona public schools:

Respondents Disagree that the school: Inculcates moral values (Mean = 2.95).

Respondents were Neutral: Your child is learning what he/she needs to know (Mean = 3.15), Your child finds school work interesting (Mean = 3.25), Your child finds school work challenging (Mean = 3.34), Your child finds school work stimulating (Mean = 3.12), Students help each other (Mean = 3.34), Students respect each other (Mean = 3.30), Etiquette's are taught to your child (Mean = 3.00), Your child is taught to be mindful of society at large (Mean = 3.27), Your child is motivated by the teachers (Mean = 3.46), Your child can easily access programs and services at school to get help with school work (Mean = 3.38), Your child can get help at school with problems that are not related to school work (Mean = 3.19), Your child receives academic counseling (Mean = 3.12),

Respondents Agree: Your child is given feedback by the teachers (Mean = 3.76), Your child is treated fairly and with respect by elders at the school (Mean = 3.59), Your child is safe to and on the way home from school (Mean = 3.76), and Your child can easily access the available technology in the school (Mean = 3.61)

Please state your agreement with the below statements that best describe your experience with Arizona public schools:

Respondents Disagree: Current State elected officials are doing enough to address education policy (Mean = 2.62).

Respondents Agree: Education policy is an issue in our State (Mean = 4.00), The State should provide skills based education instead of testing (Mean = 3.90), and You are willing to pay higher taxes in order to fund public schools (Mean = 3.67).

Please state your agreement with the below statements on gentrification:

Respondents Agree: It is currently occurring in the school district and adjoining area (Mean = 4.10), and Gentrification is over-hyped (Mean = 4.17).

Respondents Disagree: Gentrification is positive (Mean = 2.57), It benefits an area (Mean = 2.81), It makes the area the livable (Mean = 2.81), It makes the area desirable (Mean = 2.87), It is important for the safety of a student (Mean = 2.74), It makes the school district accessible to all students (Mean = 2.43), It offers more living options (Mean = 2.67), Added capacity increases affordability in the area (Mean = 2.91), It maintains economic diversity (Mean = 2.53), I have been affected by gentrification (Mean = 2.29), I have been rendered homeless by gentrification (Mean = 1.80), My area has turned into a middle to high-end locality (Mean = 2.29), and My living conditions have improved after gentrification in the area (Mean = 2.23).

The following questions were ranked on a scale of 1–5:

1 = Very Dissatisfied | 2 = Dissatisfied | 3 = Neutral | 4 = Satisfied | 5 = Very Satisfied

Question Analysis

How would rate your satisfaction with Arizona public schools based on these parameters:

Respondents were Dissatisfied: Quality of education (Mean = 2.81) and Teaching methods (Mean = 2.90).

Respondents were Neutral: Quality of teaching (Mean = 3.19), Subjects available (Mean = 3.15), Teaching aids (Mean = 3.10), Extracurricular activities (Mean = 3.15), Infrastructure (Mean = 3.04), Transport facilities (Mean = 3.42), Quality of cafeteria and dining area (Mean = 3.30), Field trips conducted (Mean = 3.03), and Campus safety (Mean = 3.47).

Respondents were Satisfied: Geographical location (Mean = 3.85) and Use of technology (Mean = 3.52).

What teaching methods used at the school do you find most effective (select all that apply)?

Respondents indicate: Class teaching (17.27%), Use of multimedia (12.75%), Coursework (16.25%), Homework (7.59%), Field trips (13.93%), Evaluations and examinations (5.69%), Individual projects (13.82%), Group projects (10.99%), Other (please explain) (1.71%).

Other: At home practice; My kid went to private school; Active learning; Hands on activities

What learning avenue’s does your child have access to, in the school (select all that apply)?

Respondents indicate: Music (14.01%), Arts (14.94%), Physical Education (16.54%), Sports (13.07%), Computers (14.70%), Another language (10.33%), Health (8.68%), Government (7.42%), Other (please explain) (0.31%).

Other: Reading, math

To offer respondents a chance to provide additional comments, one open ended question was asked:

Do you have any other thoughts, comments, or insights you want to provide related to education or State education policy?

The answers offered provide additional insights into the thoughts of Arizona residents in relation to education policy. The responses are edited for minor grammatical errors and word clarity.

Group 1 — All

Gentrification. As wealthier people move into a previously poor neighborhood, the median area income increases. This increases cash flows for local businesses and makes local business investment more desirable. Over a period of time, more businesses are built, new jobs are created, and wages increase.
The education system doesn’t teach kids how the government/private foreign multi-national corporation co-mingled power structure works. If kids don’t know what a central bank really is about and just know propaganda, the entire country can be taken over. The public education system also isn’t teaching young kids about how collectivism takes over society to take over government. Our country is in a pivot point, where those in power are very close to completely taking over all aspects of our lives. If public education can’t identify and counter this, what the hell is the point?
They keep wanting to raise taxes, but it seems to just go in their pockets. teachers aren’t paid well & the schools need building & facility upgrades.
They need to fund the schools better, because as of right now they are understaffed, and overwhelmed. They are not able to effectively do their jobs, and no one is doing anything about it.
spend more money on our kids and teachers for they are the future and too many d level schools are out there. special needs kids are not being educated or enough money spent on them at all.
Good education.
AZ is 5th from the bottom in education. IT’s sad they need to get their policies in order and pay teachers what they are worth.

Group 2 — Lean Liberal

It needs more funding to pay teachers more and provide a better classroom environment. I am willing to pay more to help with this.
Arizona does not provide an equal education for all students in all areas. Too much money is wasted at the top. The arts are not given enough attention.
The teachers do a great job with what they have. However, the schools are understaffed and the teachers are underpaid. Some of the curriculum forced upon the teachers to instruct seems largely ineffective.
More focus needs to be paid to actual learning. Politics and religion needs to be kept out of schools. Too much of the school budget goes to administration versus teachers and learning.
I believe it should be a better curriculum and not just the normal general subjects. Students should be given classes dealing with real life situations mainly things they will have to deal with everyday. Curriculum's she be more hands on activities as oppose to just staying in the class and reading all day. Just anyone with a degree should not be able to teach. It has to be proven you really like kids and want to teach them appropriate things.
I think that the quality of education is decreasing every year and there is too many kids in public school classes which affects the children’s ability to learn. Also, there should be a lot more physical education and more than just playing “tag” for 5 minutes.
I encourage my kids to take full advantage of learning opportunities.
I think that just throwing money at the schools is not the whole issue. Teacher need to be able to stop worrying about testing and meeting standards in order to be free to teach in a more creative and engaging way.
I just feel with having 3 children in school that they need to have safer campuses, non bullying rules in place and better teaching as in one on one if needed. When your child is clueless about how to do homework you know there is an issue and the bullying is out of control. We need more teachers and smaller classrooms.

Group 3 — Lean Conservative 

Public education is rotten at the core. The grade school down the street that I went to as a kid has just constructed a gigantic multi-million dollar auditorium and parking garage for public performances in competition with similar venues around the City. Grade School! And then they come to the voters asking for school bond overrides. Sickening.
It just really needs to be improved so many things are wrong one being in this state it pushes to much of the academic’s and not enough of social skills that a child needs. Example, will I know this has changed, why did a law need to be passed so that grade school kids would get recess who thought not allowing children to play and make them sit all day along I find baffling.
I believe that teachers are paid enough. They work nine months out of the year and have every holiday and weekend off. I have an issue that they went on strike and feel that it was totally wrong. I appreciate that they are teaching our youth, however they need to look at the entire picture. In addition, I feel that as parents we need to be more involved. Setting your child in front of a movie is not helping them learn. Parents need to take accountability.
Arizona is 49th in rank in the nation for teacher pay. We need to start offering a better wage to get and keep good educators. That should be the starting point, more supplies provided by the state, physical education, art, music, history and civics should me brought to the forefront to our schools again.
I think Arizona does a great job with our schooling system and provides a lot of opportunities for kids.
Schools need to teach for subjects (math, language arts, science & history) with some electives. Students should not be exposed to deviant and immortal lifestyles as part of their lessons. Teachers need to keep their politics out of the classroom. If they want to protest, they need to do it on their own time and keep students out of it. They were hired to do a job, not abandon it to go protest. Students also need to be taught life skills and how to work, not how to buck authority and expect others to work to pay their way. Young people need to learn a trade to work, not go to school for useless degrees that warp their sense of how life works. Bring back shop and home economics.
Teachers are not doing enough and if they want higher pay and more benefits, need to do more than just act as glorified babysitters.
The taxes never solve the problem. It’s genetics.
Too many Mexicans.
Overall we do a great job.
I think the teachers need to be paid more, and the administration needs to be paid less.

Policy Plan

AZ Forward

AZ Forward is a K-12 proposal to move Arizona residents towards 90 percent having achieved a college degree or professional certification (in addition to our high school graduation rate of 90 percent) by 2030. AZ Forward is proposed to ensure they can access more career opportunities in their communities across the state. AZ Forward supports providing students with relevant education and training to jump-start their post-secondary degrees and credentials. Future leaders, with their certificate, degree or credential, can transition into the workforce and contribute to the success of our economy. Students also need to obtain a healthy, balanced diet to stay focused. This means two meals a day per student guaranteed in all public schools K-12.

How will AZ Forward work?

By providing all students with the knowledge and skills for transition to post-secondary education and/or high-quality careers. AZ Forward is structured around three key elements:

I. Quality post-secondary and employment counseling throughout K-12;

II. STEM education, demanding early post-secondary and apprentice opportunities in high school; and

III. Forward moving outcomes for future leaders between K-12, post-secondary institutions, and employment opportunities as a result of partnerships among school districts, higher education institutions, employers, and community organizations.

As your next State Senator, I will take a new approach to help our students achieve their absolute best with a comprehensive six-point policy plan:

  1. Fighting for the funding our education system needs to support our future generation
  2. Access to Pre-K (Arizona Head Start) and summer education for every Arizona family
  3. Provide students the 21st Century Skills and enhance career path education programs & prepare every student for success in either college or in a career
  4. Pay our educators and support staff competitive salaries
  5. Make certain every student in public school has an equal opportunity to learn and get ahead
  6. Make certain Arizona’s Native American populations are well served by the education system

AZ Forward: A Six Point Education Policy Plan

This AZ Forward 6-point policy plan is comprehensive and ambitious. It will take the combined efforts of educators, parents, students and civic leaders to make positive change happen. As your State Senator, I will include educator, student, parent and community voices when making decisions affecting Arizona schools. It will be challenging, and it will take time, but I believe it can be done because I believe in the people of Arizona and working across party lines to achieve a common goal of supporting our children. Our schools are the cornerstone of our communities. They are the foundation of our economy. If we prepare our children for the future, they will realize their dreams, participate fully in their communities as active, responsible citizens and help us all realize the dream of an economically vibrant Arizona. I am ready to get to work as your next State Senator make it happen in 2020.

Want to read a more detailed version of this policy plan? Click here.

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Contact Ryan

Reach Me Anytime
+1(480) 420-3391

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