Education Reform

Too often, the traditional public-school model fails students and teachers. Charter schools, scholarship tax credits, and merit pay are giving students a better education and teachers a better career.

<p>Too often, the traditional public-school model fails students and teachers. Charter schools, scholarship tax credits, and merit pay are giving students a better education and teachers a better career. </p>

ABC’s John Stossel did a story a few years ago on the nation’s failed education system. Among the deficiencies are provisions in union contracts that hamstring the ability of school officials to weed out bad teachers. According to New York City Education Chancellor Joel Klein, it’s “just about impossible” to fire a bad teacher in New York. Klein said, “We tolerate mediocrity because people get paid the same, whether they are outstanding, average, or way below average.”

In the latest edition of City Journal, William Voegeli's article about the public sector strangling of the California economy provided the following nugget of wisdom:

Last week I wrote that the Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s official figures show that total per pupil school spending in Arizona increased by 20 percent between 2000 and 2009, while the state’s scores on the Nation's Report Card have increased by less than 1 percent.

The Department of Health and Human Services has been sitting on an evaluation of the Head Start government run pre-school program. Well, the study was released.

As the leaks suggested, the study found virtually no lasting effects to participation in Head Start. The study used a gold-standard, random assignment design and had a very large nationally representative sample. This was a well done study.

The Founders, in their genius, created a government system where our 50 states function as “laboratories of reform.” Arizona can lead the way for other states in policy areas where we excel and build upon other states’ success for our own benefit.

On March 10, 2009, President Barack Obama gave a major education speech before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In that speech, he declared that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan “will use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works.”

Governor Jan Brewer has been encouraging the universities to develop lower cost alternatives to getting a four-year degree. But, the state is bankrupt and will not be able to find additional money to help create such options.

I have an idea that would help, and it will not cost a dime.

When Governor Jan Brewer announced her proposed budget, she established a benchmark in calling for the termination of a state program that currently serves 17,400 seriously mentally ill adults to save $37 million, the Arizona Republic reported. The governor’s budget chief, John Arnold, said this spending reduction is especially hard for the governor because she has been a strong advocate for mental-health causes.

Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss Florida’s education reforms on KAET-TV’s “Horizon” with Arizona Education Association President John Wright. We were discussing the Nation’s Report Card scores for Florida and I was surprised to hear Mr. Wright make the following claim: “The steepest increases that Florida saw in both reading and math scores were between 1994 and 2002--before most of these reforms took place.”
 

Through the magic of public access television, I recently watched debate before the state House of Representatives on bills to reform the tuition scholarship tax credit program. I’m happy to report that legislators engaged in a substantive discussion and adopted amendments from both parties.

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