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.
AIMS has suffered what ought to be its final indignity. The legislature passed AIMS Augmentation in order to allow 6,000 high school seniors to graduate despite an inability to pass what at most amounts to a test of basic skills.
If you can't pass a tenth grade level test, the original thinking went, you don't deserve to graduate from high school. A diploma should mean something, and students need an incentive to work hard. After delaying the graduation requirement several times, the legislature has effectively killed it through easily obtained bonus points.
As a foster mother to 23 children, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) appreciates the many challenges faced by foster children, and those who care for them. One big hurdle is education.
We quickly learned that our foster children had very different needs than most children, Bachman has said. Most of the children in her care had special needs, were in therapy, and had other behavioral or learning issues.
A recent article in the Weekly Standard about a conference held by education academics included the following deeply revealing passage about the ability of Arizona State University to prepare teachers for real-life classroom challenges:
Over the past couple weeks I have been debating progressive blogger David Safier and his readers about per pupil spending in Arizona public schools. It's been a good exchange, and I have learned things in the process.
In what appears to be an example of mass irresponsibility on the part of Arizona's citizenry, the vast majority of Arizonans chose not to join in protesting state budget cuts. Arizona legislators have reported many hundreds of emails protesting the cuts. College students numbering perhaps 1,000 from the state's three public universities protested cuts as well. That means, however, more than 6 million Arizonans chose not to call, email, or show up in person to complain about cuts.
Thanks to a new agreement signed by the Goldwater Institute and the Cave Creek Unified School District, the tax dollars of district residents are safe for now. In April, the Goldwater Institute sued the district because it decided to spend bond money on projects not approved by the voters. In its agreement with the Goldwater Institute, the district promised to delay spending the funds until a judge determines whether the expenditures are legal.
Mark your calendars: beginning July 1, Arizona students with special needs and their families can begin applying for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA’s), a new program for this traditionally underserved population. The state will deposit 90 percent of the student’s funds into an account parents can use for a variety of educational expenditures, including textbooks, therapy services, tutoring, and even tuition for alternative or online schools.
At an award ceremony earlier this year, Akimel O’Otham Pee Posh charter school became the first Native American school to be named the Arizona Distinguished Title I School of the Year. The school is now entered in the National Title I Association’s national competition, which recognizes schools that are doing the best job of helping kids in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the country.
This is how I imagine legendary comedians Abbott and Costello would discuss public education:
Costello: I want to help public schools. Which state is last in education funding?
Abbott: That’s Utah, but Idaho falls close behind.
EDITORIAL: Arizona Republic
The Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute gets a big gold star for pointing out a vexing problem with the state's funding formula for public schools:
Delays in calculations of per-student funding fail to keep up with a highly mobile student population, resulting in misallocations. According to the institute's report "Ghost Students," allocations to schools with declining enrollments could amount to as much as $125 million in overpayments per year.