Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced her support of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) for dramatically increasing the price of base tuition and mandatory fees at the state’s public universities. Superintendent Douglas concurs with Attorney General Brnovich and his assertion that the 300-plus-percent tuition hikes are unconstitutional.
“The Arizona Constitution clearly states that ‘the university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible,’” Superintendent Douglas stated. “That is plainly not the case in our state right now. We want to set our children up for success when they graduate from college, not be riddled with so much debt that their choices are limited.”
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Superintendent Douglas commended Brnovich for pointing out three types of unlawful conduct cited in the filed lawsuit. The Superintendent agrees with the Attorney General that the tuition-setting policy does not comply with the constitutional mandate, part-time or online students are charged significantly more than the actual cost and Arizona risks triggering a federal law that would forfeit the state’s ability to provide discounted in-state tuition to any of its residents.
As a constitutional member of ABOR, records show that Douglas has not regularly attended ABOR meetings and there is no evidence that she has called for the Regents to comply with the constitutional mandate before now. She has called for more dedicated education funding for K-12, proposing an extension and expansion of Prop 301 to address teacher salaries and capital repairs of school infrastructures.
“It is overdue that we have a serious conversation about controlling the cost of a college education in Arizona,” Superintendent Douglas said. “I would be interested in hearing more about ideas such as community colleges offering four-year degrees and reducing the amount of fees student pay. I think it fits within the larger dialogue of ensuring our financial resources are used wisely to ensure the best possible outcome for our children.”