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Survey Finds Rural Arizona Voters Concerned About Education Issues

A new survey by the nonprofit Expect More Arizona shows education is the top issue for voters in rural parts of the state, behind immigration and border issues and health care. 

In the survey, rural Arizona voters expressed concerns with remote learning, lack of funding for schools and teacher pay and support. These issues affect rural areas differently than they do urban areas, said Erin Hart, senior vice president and chief impact officer for Expect More Arizona. 

“It’s hard to attract and retain teachers in rural communities, it’s harder to make sure schools in rural communities have access to great learning tools or technology to be able to provide services to their students," she said. 

Nearly three in four rural voters across the political spectrum felt teacher pay is too low. The organization's statewide survey of Arizona voters released in January had similar findings. 

"People are really saying that teacher salaries are still too low and there’s more work to be done here to make sure that our teachers are well supported and well paid so that we’re competitive with other states who often pay more than Arizona does," Hart said. 

About three-in-five rural voters believe K-12 funding in the state is too low. About a third of them believe schools will have enough funding as a result of Proposition 208, the Invest in Education Act that was passed last year. 

For Hart, these survey results show policy makers and education advocates like her organization need to find long-term funding solutions not just for K-12 systems across the state, but also for early education and higher education.

Rocio Hernandez was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2022.