Opinion: If, like 73% of Arizona voters, you agree that schools need more resources, don’t ignore the education races on the bottom of your ballot.

Education funding and support for Arizona classrooms have consistently been a top concern among surveyed Arizonans. (Photo: Nick Oza, Nick Oza/The Republic)

I’ve been involved in education my whole life, and I am forever grateful to my great grandparents for immigrating to this country for its educational opportunity. As each year passes, I gain a deeper appreciation for the opportunities that my education has afforded me and for the depth of commitment among educators at every level.

Schools teach more than academics. Schools are where students gain confidence, learn self-sufficiency, improve social skills, build their sense of community and civic responsibility and develop their vision for all the possibilities ahead of them.

As if that wasn’t enough, some schools are doing even more. From providing meals or food pantries for students who would otherwise go hungry, or health screenings through valuable community partnerships, schools serve basic needs of students. They provide one-on-one support to youth with special needs.

We demand so much of our educators

School psychologists and counselors help support student success, identify and address learning challenges, and also support student’s social and emotional needs. In many of our communities, school-based social workers help entire families develop life skills and connect with community resources.

Should all of these responsibilities be placed on our educators? Probably not.

Looking for the other side of the story?Subscribe today for access to even more opinions.

But they step up because they know students can’t possibly succeed in the classroom if they are perpetually hungry, or worried about violence in their home, or unsure whether they’ll have a roof over their head, or distracted thinking about a parent who is working three jobs to make ends meet. For schools to support the myriad educational, social-emotional and even basic needs of each student requires resources.

We know schools need our support

Every year, Expect More Arizona surveys Arizona voters to gauge what matters to them. And for the past five years, education has topped the list. Voters prioritize education above the economy, health care and border issues.

This election is undoubtedly the most divisive in recent memory. But education is not a partisan issue, evidenced by the one thing that 73% of voters agree on: Schools need more resources. Arizona’s Roadmap for P-20 Education Funding has identified short, mid and long-term priorities for education investments that will make the biggest impacts and help meet the goals outlined in the Arizona Education Progress Meter.

Voters should carefully consider candidate positions on education issues before filling out their ballot. In presidential election cycles, many voters focus on candidates at the top of the ballot, neglecting those such as school board or community college district board candidates who have a direct and sizable impact on education.

So, vote for those