State of Latino Arizona

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Dr. David Garcia, associate professor for Arizona State University Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College talks about the State of Latino Arizona report which analyzes school funding in Arizona districts and schools with high percentages of Latino student enrollment.

JOSE CARDENAS: K 12 FUNDING AND PAY FOR TEACHERS ARE OFTEN CITED TO BE AMONG THE LOWEST IN THE NATION. A NEW REPORT SHOWS ARIZONA'S COMMITMENT TO SCHOOLS AND DISTRICTS WITH LATINO STUDENTS ARE NOT MATCHING LATINO'S NEEDS. JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THIS IS DOCTOR DAVID GARCIA, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR WITH THE ASU MARY LOU FULTON TEACHERS COLLEGE. DAVID, WELCOME BACK. THIS IS NOT A NEW TOPIC. WE WERE HERE A COUPLE MONTHS TALKING ABOUT THIS AS IT WAS IN PROGRESS. IT ROLLED OUT THIS WEEK. GIVE US A SENSE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING AND THEN WE WILL GO INTO THE SPECIFICS.

DAVID GARCIA: SURE. THANK YOU HAVING ME FIRST OFF. LAST TIME WE WERE TALKING ABOUT THE GENERALITIES AND NOW WE HAVE THE REPORT. SCHOOL FINANCE IS A COMPLEX TOPIC AND ONE GREAT THING ABOUT THE REPORT IS IT IS WRITTEN IN A ENGAGING WAY. IT IS HOPEFULLY A DOCUMENT THAT FOLKS IN THE COMMUNITY AND COULD LOOK AT AND UNDERSTAND WHAT IS GOING ON IN SCHOOL FINANCE. IT IS A VIBRANT DOCUMENT AND GETS TO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW SCHOOL FINANCING AND FUNDING ISSUES IMPACTING A DIFFERENT COMMUNITY IN ARIZONA. WE FOCUSED ON DIVIDING UP THE SCHOOL POPULATIONS DIVIDING THEM UP BY THE NUMBER OF LATINO AND COMPARED HIGH LATINO ENROLLMENT SCHOOLS COMPARED TO LOW LATINO ENROLLMENT SCHOOLS TO LEARN ABOUT THE CONDITIONS THOSE SCHOOLS FACE.

JOSE CARDENAS: WHAT IS HIGH ENROLLMENT?

DAVID GARCIA: SCHOOLS THAT ARE MORE THAN 75% LATINO. MANY IN PHOENIX, MANY IN RURAL AREAS IN ARIZONA, BUT THESE ARE SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS WHERE, AGAIN, OVER THREE QUARTERS OF THE STUDENTS ARE LATINOS.

JOSE CARDENAS: WE WILL LOOK AT CHARTS TO SHOW THE IMPACT THAT HAS. HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE REPORT TO BE USED? I EXPECT IT TO BE A SUBJECT OF THE DISCUSSION AT THE TOWN HALL.

DAVID GARCIA: SCHOOL FUNDING IS CONTINUING TO BE A TREMENDOUSLY IMPORTANT ISSUE COMING UP OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I BELIEVE IN THE 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION SCHOOL FUNDING IS GOING TO BE A HOT TOPIC. THE GOVERNMENT HAS A COUNCIL ON SCHOOL FUNDING FOR EXAMPLE. THE REALITY IS OUR DEMOGRAPHICS ARE CHANGING. ARIZONA'S SCHOOL FUNDING SYSTEM IS NOW 30, 40 YEARS OLD. THE HEART OF IT AND HOW WE TEACH, THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE SCHOOL AND HOW THEY ARE STRUCTURED CHANGED HAVE CHANGED FUNDAMENTALLY AND I THINK OUR SCHOOL FUNDING SYSTEM NEEDS TO CHANGE TO FOLLOW SUIT.

JOSE CARDENAS: LET'S LOOK AT SOME OF THE DATA THAT CAME OUT WE HAVE TWO OR THREE CHARTS WE WANT TO SHOW. THE FIRST WITH RESPECT TO DEMOGRAPHICS AND ACHIEVEMENT AND THE DISTINCTIONS WE SEE IN THESE GROUPS. GIVE US A SENSE OF THE CHART.

DAVID GARCIA: THIS CHART IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THE CONTEXT OF EDUCATION FOR THE SCHOOL AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS WE LOOKED AT. ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE SCREEN ARE LOW LATINO ENROLLMENT DISTRICTS AND ON THE RIGHT SIDE IS OUR HIGH LATINO ENROLLMENT DISTRICTS. I WANT TO BRING PEOPLE'S ATTENTION TO THE BLUE LINE THAT IS ON THE CHART. WHAT THAT LINE REPRESENTS IS THE PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS WHO ARE QUALIFIED FOR FREE AND REDUCED LUNCH. IN THAT RESPECT, YOU WILL SEE THAT OUR HIGH LATINO SCHOOL DISTRICT, 85% OF THOSE STUDENTS QUALIFY FOR FREE AND REDUCED LUNCH. THAT IS OUR MEASURE OF POVERTY IN LOW LATINO DISTRICTS THE NUMBER REDUCES TO 43%. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES? GENERALLY, POVERTY IS NOT A DETRIMENT TO ACHIEVEMENT BECAUSE STUDENTS LACK RESOURCES. IT IS BECAUSE POVERTY BRINGS ABOUT INSTABILITY IN STUDENT'S LIVES AND THAT IS THE MOST DETRIMENTAL TO THE STUDENTS. IN OUR HIGH LATINO SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND SCHOOLS WE ARE DEALING WITH A LEVEL OF INSTABILITY THAT SCHOOLS IN ORDER TO GETS STUDENTS TO FOCUS ON STUDIES EVERY DAY, DELAY GRATIFICATION SO THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE LEARNING TODAY IS GOING TO PAY OFF IN THE FUTURE, IT IS THAT ENVIRONMENT THAT MAKES IT MUCH MORE DIFFICULT FOR THE STUDENT POPULATION.

JOSE CARDENAS: THE OTHER THING I NOTICED BECAUSE THE BLACK BOX AND THE PERCENTAGE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS IS MUCH HIGHER IN THE HIGH LATINO ENROLLMENT DISTRICTS.

DAVID GARCIA: 16 PERCENT OF STUDENTS IN HIGH LATINO SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS. IT A TREMENDOUS BENEFIT ON ONE HAND TO HAVE STUDENTS LEARNING TWO LANGUAGES, BUT WE HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND THESE ARE STUDENTS WHO ARE COGNITIVELY WORKING AND TOGGLING ENGLISH AND SPANISH AND IT MAKES IT MORE DIFFICULT IN THOSE SCHOOLS TO REINFORCE LESSONS AT HOME IF YOU HAVE PARENTS THAT HAVE LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY. IT CREATES ANOTHER CHALLENGE AS WELL.

JOSE CARDENAS: ONE OF THE OTHER MAJOR POINTS AND WE TALKED ABOUT THIS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE HERE BUT THIS NEXT CHART MAKES IT GRAPHICALLY, NO PUN INTENDED, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PILOT FUNDING AND BY THAT I MEAN PARENTS AND OTHER GROUPS PROVIDING FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS BETWEEN THE NON LATINO SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND THE HIGH LATINO SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

DAVID GARCIA: YEAH, WHEN YOU SEE A SITUATION IN ARIZONA WHERE MORE AND MORE FUNDING IS MOVING FROM THE STATE LEVEL TO A LOCAL COMMUNITY LEVEL WHETHER THAT IS LOCAL BONDS AND OVERRIDES, WHETHER IT IS FAMILIES PAYING FOR EDUCATION OUT OF THEIR OWN POCKET. THIS IS AT THE UNIVERSITY LEVEL WHERE TUITIONS HAVE BEEN INCREASED. AND AT THE K 12 LEVELS, SCHOOLS HAVE POPLAR OPTIONS WITH THE LEGISLATURE AND WHAT WE FOUND LOOKING AT THE DATA WAS THAT IN OUR HIGH LATINO SCHOOL DISTRICT ON A TYPICAL SCHOOL OF 500 STUDENTS THEY WOULD EXPECT TO RECEIVE ABOUT 6,300 DOLLARS IN PUBLIC SCHOOL TAX CREDITS. LOW LATINO DISTRICTS RECEIVED 43,000 DOLLARS ABOUT SEVEN TIMES THE AMOUNT TAX CREDITS GO TO EXTRA CURRICULUM AND THOSE ARE ENRICHMENT OPPORTUNITIES. IT IS ACTIVITIES LIKE ROBOTICS CLUB, LEGO CLUBS, FIELD TRIPS, THAT HELP STUDENTS UNDERSTAND AND CONTEXTUALIZE WHAT THEY ARE LEARNING AND HOW IT MATTERS IN THE REAL WORLD. AND THE STUDENTS THAT NEED THAT EXPOSURE THE MOST HAVE THE LEAST RESOURCES IN ORDER TO ENGAGE IN THOSE TYPES OF ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES.

JOSE CARDENAS: THIS ONE IS HARDER TO APPRECIATE THE IMPLICATIONS. THIS IS MORE ABOUT THE FUTURE IN TERMS OF FUNDING AND SOURCES.

DAVID GARCIA: THIS LAST SIDE IS COMPLEX. WE ARE HOPING FOLKS CAN UNDERSTAND AND REALIZE WHAT IS GOING IN THEIR OWN SCHOOLS. IF YOU NOTICE IN HIGH LATINO SCHOOL DISTRICTS, IF YOU ADD STATE AND LOCAL DOLLARS, ON AVERAGE THE DISTRICTS RECEIVE 7,550 DOLLARS PER STUDENT. IN WEALTHIER DISTRICTS THEY RECEIVE AROUND 7,900 DOLLARS. OUR STATE CONTRIBUTION FOR THE HIGH SCHOOL NEED DISTRICTS ARE A LITTLE LESS THAN DISTRICTS THAT DON'T FACE THE SAME CHALLENGE. WHEN YOU MENTIONED THE FUNDING IS NOT MATCHING THE NEED THAT IS WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT WHERE IN HIGH LATINO DISTRICTS THEY ARE GETTING SLIGHTLY LESS FOR A NEEDIER POPULATION THAN ANOTHER DISTRICT. THEN YOU ADD FEDERAL DOLLARS ON IT.

JOSE CARDENAS: IT SEEMS TO MAKE UP THE DIFFERENCE A LITTLE.

DAVID GARCIA: IT DOES WHEN YOU ADD FEDERAL DOLLARS AND NOW THE FUNDING BECOMES MORE EQUITABLE.

JOSE CARDENAS: IF THAT IS THE CASE WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

DAVID GARCIA: IT IS TWO FOLD. WE ARE A STATE THAT HAS BATTLES WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR LATINO SCHOOLS AND THEY ARE IMPORTANT TO CREATE EQUITABLE CONDITIONS. WITHOUT THOSE DOLLARS, THE STUDENTS WHO HAD THE GREATEST NEED WOULD HAVE THE LEAST RESOURCES. YOU HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND THAT THOSE DOLLARS ARE TARGETED DIFFERENTLY THAN THE STATE DOLLARS. THEY ARE TARGETED FOR DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS AND GET STUDENTS FALLING BELOW STANDARDS UP TO ACADEMIC STANDARDS. THEY ARE FOCUSED ON THE MOST NEEDY POPULATION AND IT IS AMPLIFIED. WE DON'T HAVE A MEASURE OF NEED OR DISADVANTAGE STUDENT STATUS IN OUR STATE FORMULA. AND ITS WHEN YOU ADD THE FEDERAL FORMULA THAT THAT IS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND ANOTHER POINT WE TALKED ABOUT IN THE PAST IS THIS SHOWS A TREND DOWN FOR STATE FUNDING WHICH MEANS THOSE FEDERAL DOLLARS MAY NOT BE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO MAKE UP THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT THE STATE PROVIDES AND WHAT OTHER DISTRICTS GIVE TO THE STATE.

DAVID GARCIA: YOU HEAR THAT AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL THAT THE FEDS SHOULDN'T BE INVOLVED IN THE EDUCATION OF BUSINESS. IT WOULD HAVE A TREMENDOUS IMPACT FOR THE LATINO POPULATION AND IF THE VIEWERS TAKE A LOOK AT THE BOTTOM PORTION, THE BLACK PORTION, WHICH IS LOCAL FUNDING, YOU WILL NOTICE THAT IN THE LOW LATINO SCHOOL DISTRICTS ABOUT 50% OF FUNDING COMES FROM LOCAL SOURCES COMPARED TO 40% FOR HIGH LATINO DISTRICTS. THAT IS A TREND WE WILL SEE MORE OF IN THE STATE AS STATE DOLLARS CONTINUE TO DECREASE LOCAL COMMUNITIES WILL HAVE TO FILL THE GAPS THROUGH LOCAL BONDS AND OVERRIDES.

JOSE CARDENAS: DAVID GARCIA, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. I AM SURE WE WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS IN THE UPCOMING LEGISLATURE SESSION AND WE WILL HAVE YOU BACK TO TALK TO US.

DAVID GARCIA: THANK YOU.

JOSE CARDENAS: TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HORIZONTE, GO TO OUR WEBSITE. DIVE DEEPER IN THE ISSUES VISITING THE SPECIAL WEB SESSION THAT COVER ARTS, EDUCATION, IMMIGRATION, LEGISLATORS AND OTHER TOPICS. JUST ONE CLICK AWAY. VISIT HORIZONTE.AZPBS.ORG.

Dr. David Garcia: Associate Professor for Arizona State University Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

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