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.
When considering whether or not to finance capital costs for schools, or utilize other methods to reduce pressure on Arizona's beleaguered budget, a comparison between Arizona and Nevada is instructive.
Imagine if we carved a Mount Rushmore for successful progressive governors. Since the root word of progressive is progress, I nominate former Florida governor Jeb Bush to make the cut.
Progressives are concerned with the welfare of the poor. But a better definition, one might argue, would be someone who actually makes progress toward solving the problems of the poor. Like Jeb Bush.
In their report, Private Education is Good for the Poor, James Tooley and Pauline Dixon explored private education in the Third World. Their two-year in-depth study in India, Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya involved both a census of schools and achievement testing of low-income areas. What they found was extraordinary.
Arizona politics can be disorienting. People can spend a lot of effort on problems that don't actually exist -- and then bury their heads in the sand on serious issues.
A perfect example of the latter phenomenon is in the area of K-12 education. Denials and justifications for poor performance abound: Were 49th in spending (except we really aren't). Were doomed by our demographics (even though other states have figured it out). Or my personal favorite: We're really already well above the national average!
What is called the Blaine Amendment, Article 9, Section 10 of the Arizona Constitution, reads:
No tax shall be laid or appropriation of public money made in aid of any church, or private or sectarian school, or any public service corporation.
On the basis of that language, last week an Arizona appeals court struck down the voucher programs for children with disabilities and foster care children.
Arizona's citizens have been subjected non-stop to the claim that Arizona's public schools are desperately underfunded. The Superintendent of Public Instruction's finance report says otherwise.
On page six of that document, you will find a figure for all revenues collected by Arizona school districts from all sources. That number is $9,232,916,095. If you divide that figure by the enrollment number for districts on page nine of the same document, you get $9,707.45 in total revenue per pupil.
Last week I refuted the notion that the rising Hispanic population will doom the Southwest to becoming the Appalachia of the 21st century with data from Florida. I've dug into the numbers further, and they tell an extraordinary story.
I recently had the privilege of attending the school festival at the Millennium Worldwide Academy, a private school operating in South Phoenix. Millennium began as a preschool, but expanded into the early elementary grades as parents pleaded with the school founders to let their children stay in the school.
During the festival, Millennium children displayed a broad and impressive knowledge of science and geography. Students played the violin and recited the states and state capitols.
We have emphasized Florida's extraordinary success in raising academic achievement, noting that Florida's low-income Hispanic students outscore the statewide average for all Arizona students on 4th grade reading tests.
The figure below demonstrates just how extraordinary that accomplishment is by reversing matters. How do Arizona's free and reduced lunch eligible Hispanics compare to the statewide average for all students in Florida? Not good.
A front page headline in the Jan. 16 Arizona Republic read "GOP Budget plan slashed funds for Arizona Education." The preliminary budget plans envision a 2.5 percent decrease in the Department of Education's Budget, and a 16.2 percent cut in university budgets. The story has predictable quotes from the usual suspects about the coming apocalypse should such reductions come to pass.