On September 28, the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit challenging excessive regulations issued by the Structural Pest Control Commission (SPCC). The regulations prevent gardeners and landscapers from doing the ordinary spraying over-the-counter herbicides for their clients. The SPCC regulations don't just lie in the weeds. They're enforced with hefty fines, which means a $500 penalty for one of the plaintiffs in this case.
The state's licensing program requires some 3,000 hours of training over a five-year period just to spray Roundup, something any individual homeowner can do. At its core, the state's licensing scheme protects large pest control companies from competition at the expense of smaller independent businesses who are less able to afford the required time and fees. There's nothing healthy about that.
The SPCC also requires landlords and renters to get licensed, or face fines. The result? More business for established companies.
Masquerading as defenders of the public health, the laws do little other than deter start-up businesses from offering these services. A win for the Institute for Justice in this case would weed this regulatory garden that is choking out the growth of new business.
- Arizona Republic: "Homeowners beware: Crooks spraying weeds"
-Institute for Justice: "Arizona Gardeners and Landscapers File Economic Liberty Lawsuit Against Structural Pest Control Commission"
-Structural Pest Control Commission
Governor Janet Napolitano recently created a committee to study ways to keep and attract the best teachers, including modernizing Arizona's teacher salary grid. School Superintendent Tom Horne, meanwhile, is proposing a $2,500 tax credit for public school teachers.
Arizona's practice of paying teachers by a salary grid, not merit, drives away the best teachers. It also creates shortages of math and science teachers, who have more lucrative opportunities outside teaching. Tinkering with this faulty system pales in comparison with innovations in other states.
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney wants to pay teachers according to their students' academic progress, and to pay more for math and science teachers. Last year, Karen Carter, principal of Meadowcliff Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas, began tying teacher bonuses to students' Stanford Achievement Test results. In just one year, overall student achievement increased 17 percent, and teachers received bonuses up to $8,600.
Salary grids treat all teachers the same, whether they teach math or P.E.; whether they are mediocre, or brilliant; whether they live in Ajo, Phoenix, or Window Rock. Across-the-board tax credits for teachers won't improve that unfair practice. Making the teaching profession competitive by basing pay on performance? That's a policy teachers can bank on.
John T. Wenders is Professor of Economics, Emeritus, University of Idaho; former Professor of Economics, University of Arizona; and wrote this as a guest of the Goldwater Institute. His web site is http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~jwenders/
Eighty-two percent of U.S. high school students intend to go to college, up from 75 percent just four years ago. In Arizona, school choice programs, including the scholarship tuition tax credit, are helping students like Jose Magana turn college dreams into reality.
Jose's mother cleaned houses in the morning, changed hotel bed sheets in the afternoon, and washed clothes at night to support him and his little brother. Without a scholarship, Jose's high school choices would have been limited to his neighborhood's public schools in central Phoenix, which have a combined graduation rate of 61 percent.
Instead, Jose used his tax credit scholarship to attend St. Paul's Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, where 98 percent of students graduate and go on to college.
Jose was no exception. In fact, he was the valedictorian of the 2004 class and had his pick of universities upon graduation. Jose was accepted to Stanford University, and won full scholarships to the honors programs at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.
Today, Jose is a sophomore at Arizona State University. Jose says, "I realize that I would not have had the opportunity to attend St. Paul's Academy without school choice...[it] allowed me to make choices and open doors that I know will have profound impacts on the rest of my life."
-Horatio Alger Association: "State of Our Nation's Youth"
-Goldwater Institute: "Tax credit scholarships provide a win-win scenario"
-Goldwater Institute: "The Arizona Scholarship Tax Credit: Providing Choice for Arizona Taxpayers and Students"
On October 12, I offered Arizona Republic columnist Jon Talton a steak dinner if he could produce just two control-group studies demonstrating either that parental satisfaction or academic performance declines for students in a school choice program.
While Mr. Talton failed to produce any such evidence, Dr. Jay Greene finds that studies on the topic show "a surprisingly uniform consensus" that school choice works.
Let me expand the challenge: the first person in the next week who responds via e-mail with two control-group studies showing a decline in parental satisfaction or student achievement in school choice programs wins a steak dinner.
Several groups, including the Arizona Education Association, routinely attempt to muddy the waters by claiming that the research is "mixed." But the only sense in which the research is "mixed" is in varying degrees of the positive results. If I am wrong, opponents of school choice should prove it. If they cannot, it would be best to recall Daniel Patrick Moynihan's warning that "Ideological certainty easily degenerates into an insistence upon ignorance."
The most recent Nation's Report Card shows that a shocking 48 percent of fourth-grade students in Arizona public schools score "below basic" on reading-a polite way to describe illiteracy. We can ill afford an insistence upon ignorance regarding the demonstrated benefits of school choice.
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