Arizona has been ranked the third worst state for public school systems in America. 

According to a study by personal finance website WalletHub, out of all 51 states (including the District of Columbia), Arizona is ranked 49th for the highest dropout rate and 51st for the highest pupil-teacher ratio. 

These statistics show that Arizona has a low spending budget for the schools. This can lead to teachers not getting paid enough and them moving to another school. 

Another reason the education system might be lacking in these areas is because the spending on students is also low. 

“Many variables contribute to school quality, like school climate, school environment, parental and community wealth and engagement in the school, and per-pupil expenditure,” said Comfort Okpala, a professor at North Carolina A&T State University. “Per-pupil expenditure is a reflection of the quantity and quality of resources available for school districts.” 

While these statistics are daunting, in 2020 Glendale attempted to take action to improve the school systems in the area. There was a request to approve a $130 million bond to improve the schools in the area. 

“If approved, the bond funds will protect money allocated for the classroom, not cause a tax rate increase and will be used to better school safety and education,” Glendale Union High School District spokesperson Kim Mesquita said in a previous Glendale Star report.

When it came time to approve the bond, voters chose against it. GUHSD didn’t respond to an interview request. 

“When we’re looking at taxes and resources provided to schools, Arizona is known as a retirement haven in a lot of aspects, and maybe, more emphasis is put on that than earlier stages of life,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst.

Glendale isn’t the only city attempting to improve its schools, as Peoria Unified School District openly released its school spending distribution on its website.

According to the Arizona auditor general, over 70% of Peoria’s school spending is focused on instructional and student support. The downfall in the spending is 9.8% of its funding goes toward principals, secretaries and school supplies.

While support is extremely beneficial for students, school supplies and well-paid staff members are just as important in order to keep the school functioning properly.

When comparing a couple of cities, the common denominator to this low statistic is low teacher pay enough and a lack of technology and supplies for kids.

“When your teachers are unhappy, when they’re leaving to teach elsewhere, that shows in the quality of the school districts and even at the state level, just how much there needs to be improvement,” Gonzalez said.

Even though Arizona is ranked lowest in America for public schools, there are some pockets in the state where schools are trying to better their students’ education. 

Though the dropout rate is high overall, Peoria Unified School District is breaking the norm by having a 96% graduation rate, according to spokesperson Danielle Airey.

“We offer career programs where students can work with mentors who are in the careers the students are interested in,” Airey said. “The program is offered to students as early as seventh and eighth grade.” 

The opportunity gets students excited to work in a job they potentially want to pursue, which eventually leads them to finishing school.