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By Anthony Cave March 17, 2016

Clinton ad claims Arizona lags in K-12 education

With Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election set for Tuesday, presidential candidates -- and their accompanying advertisements -- have picked up steam.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign aired a 30-second spot on Arizona airwaves on March 16 specific to K-12 education.

"Arizona schools rank 45th in the nation, dead last in funding per student," the ad states. "Hillary knows our kids deserve better, education means a good job, a decent living."

The ad proposes preschool for every student as well as college without "crushing debt."

The ad cites a January 2016 Education Week ranking for the 45th in the nation claim. Education Week uses several measures, including finance, achievement and chance for success.

Arizona Department of Education spokesman Charles Tack said the numbers were accurate based on the sources cited.

For the dead last in funding per student part of the claim, the ad cites the Arizona School Boards Association, a statewide nonprofit.

Clinton campaign spokesman Tim Hogan noted that both claims were from the Education Week report.

Education Week uses data from several federal agencies, including the U.S. Education Department, U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Commerce Department.

According to the data, Arizona spends $7,733 per student, almost 35 percent less than the national average of $11,841 per student. The numbers are adjusted for regional cost differences.

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In fiscal year 2013, Arizona ranked 49th, out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, in per student spending, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"That’s the sad reality, the lack of investment in human capital," said Arizona School Boards Association Executive Director Timothy Ogle.

However, Arizona isn’t dead last in per-student spending -- Utah is.

According to Education Week’s regionally adjusted numbers, Utah ranks 51st, spending $7,084 per student. The data includes all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

However, the actual text of the advertisement does mention that Arizona is 50th in per student funding though, which is correct. They’re just not dead last.

Our ruling

Clinton’s campaign said, "Arizona schools rank 45th in the nation, dead last in funding per student."

Education Week data vets the first claim, but the advertisement is off by one in its claim that the Grand Canyon State is dead last. Utah is.

Both states still spend thousands of dollars less than the national average in funding per student.

We rate the ad as Mostly True.

Our Sources

Hillary Clinton campaign, "Better," March 16, 2016

Interview with Clinton campaign spokesman Tim Hogan, March 16, 2016

Interview with Arizona School Boards Association Executive Director Timothy Ogle, March 16, 2016

Interview with Arizona Department of Education spokesman Charles Tack, March 16, 2016

Education Week, "Arizona - State Highlights 2016," accessed March 16, 2016

Education Week, "Utah - State Highlights 2016, " accessed March 16, 2016

U.S. Census Bureau, "Per pupil spending varies heavily across the United States," June 2, 2015

Arizona School Boards Association, "Funding tanks Arizona’s national grade for education," Jan. 14, 2016

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More by Anthony Cave

Clinton ad claims Arizona lags in K-12 education

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