There Is No Such Thing as a Free Appropriate Public Education

Angelika Orletsky Doebler

In January 2015, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey implemented the Classrooms First Initiative with the aims “to modernize school finance code, ensuring adequate funding is made available for teachers and classroom instruction.” Recognizing that comprehensive finance reform had not occurred for “generations,” a council convened to “build a longterm strategy” and “multi-year policy initiatives and implementation plans” to reform Arizona’s school finance code. After two years of meetings and research, the council issued a list of recommendations for reform, among which Recommendation Twelve specified “[c]onduct an actuarial cost study on special education and identify ways to address adequacy of funding based on study results.” However, the group did not develop an actual funding formula in order to enact the explicit recommendations. Recommendation Twelve has not been enacted, nor have any others. This means that schools are left to cover an essentially underfunded mandate to the tune of $381 million each year.

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