According to the just-released State of Our Nation's Youth survey, if high school students could create a better high school, it wouldn't include easier courses or classroom pizza delivery.
Nearly nine out of 10 high school students said they would work harder if their schools demanded more, set higher standards, and raised expectations. Ninety percent of students want opportunities to take challenging classes, and four out of five students think passing graduation exams in English and math would improve U.S. high schools.
While many education reform discussions focus on students struggling to learn English, pass AIMS or graduate from high school, this report is an important reminder that schools need to serve all types of students, including the academically gifted.
By allowing for the creation of niche schools-whether for the academically gifted, the academically challenged, or those students who are somewhere in between-school choice meets students where they are and helps take them where they want to go.
- State of Our Nation's Youth
-CNN: "High school rigor? Bring it on, students say"
- East Valley Tribune: "High schoolers back tougher classes": (subscription required)
The recent monsoons are not all that's soaking Arizonans. Arizona politicians, responsible for a 12 percent increase in state spending this year, soaked taxpayers for 17 percent more tax revenue this year than last.
Tax relief is long overdue, and Arizona's income taxes should be a prime target.
As economist Richard Vedder explains, "the income tax is the champion of bad taxes, in terms of its destructive effect on people, prosperity, and their economic well-being." That's because income taxes are levies on capital, thereby limiting peoples' ability to invest in their homes, new businesses, and the economy as a whole.
The Goldwater Institute has recommended replacing state income taxes with a small retail sales tax that would generate as much as $24 billion in personal income growth over 15 years and an additional 14,100 jobs on average each year. A second, more modest Goldwater Institute proposal would add 10,800 jobs per year and create $18 billion in personal income growth over 15 years.
Lifting the state income tax burden would help ensure a brighter economic future for Arizona. To do otherwise would leave Arizonans all wet.
Like millions of Americans, my first job was working at a fast-food restaurant for the minimum wage, or $3.35 an hour at the time. Like millions of Americans, that was also the first and last time I earned the minimum wage.
The truth is that among workers over age 25, less than one percent are earning the minimum wage. Why? The more we learn, the more we earn. The average income of minimum wage employees increases 30 percent within one year of employment.
But some people want more. Several national and local groups are working to place a minimum-wage increase on Arizona's 2006 ballot. Tucson attorney Bob Schwartz, chairman of Arizona's "Five Fifteen Isn't Working," has filed a constitutional amendment with the secretary of state that reads in part: "All working Arizonans are entitled to be paid a minimum wage that is sufficient to provide a decent and healthy life for them and their families." It's time, he says, to "put an end to slave wages."
A minimum wage increase will put an end to one thing: jobs. Wishful thinking won't change the laws of supply and demand. If employees become more expensive, we'll have fewer people working. Consider the admonition of Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan: "The reason I object to the minimum wage is I think it destroys jobs, and I think the evidence on that, in my judgment, is overwhelming."
We all start somewhere. An opportunity to work is better than no opportunity at all.
I couldn't have said it better myself. As my predecessor Tom Jenney, vice chairman of the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers, writes:
"In his latest paean to government economic planning ('Ireland could teach us a lot,' Viewpoints, August 7), Arizona Republic columnist Jon Talton argues that Ireland's 'famous low taxes' are not the cause of Irish prosperity in recent years. His proof? 'The Irish corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent is well above Arizona's rate of 6.969 percent.'
What Talton failed to understand is that corporations in Arizona face an average combined national and state tax rate of 42 percent. That's over three times as high as Ireland's rate of 12.5 percent. Indeed, the Irish rate is among the lowest for developed countries, well under the 30 percent average rate for OECD countries.
If Arizona politicians want Arizona to prosper and to become more competitive, they should repeal our state corporate income tax. It provides a mere seven percent of state revenue, and causes significant damage to our state economy. Meanwhile, they should petition Congress to drastically reduce the national corporate income tax rate, currently at a very uncompetitive 35 percent."
-Talton: "Ireland could teach us quite a lot"
-Robb: "Big cuts in taxes, spending gave lift"
-Study: Economic Freedom and Growth: The Case of the Celtic Tiger
-Benjamin Powell: "Markets Created a Pot of Gold in Ireland"
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