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>

Phoenix--Arizona faces one of the largest budget deficits in the nation and lawmakers are struggling to close the gap. Because half of all General Fund spending goes toward education, schools and universities will necessarily be affected by the state's across-the-board belt tightening. 

Barack Obama has made few policy pronouncements since his November election. But he and his wife have made a personal decision that is rich with policy ramifications: the choice of a school for their daughters.


The principles of individual rights and limited government enshrined in the Arizona Constitution are as relevant today as they were when it was written almost 100 years ago. Indeed, its words are the very foundation of ideas that will advance freedom. Article II, Section II of the Arizona Constitution clearly states the purpose of government: All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

Dr. Matthew Ladner spoke with KION talk show host Mark Carbonaro in Salinas, California about the dramatic improvements Florida has made to its education system, and how Arizona and California can make similar improvements.

Phoenix--Ten years ago, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and lawmakers decided to do something about declining test scores in the Sunshine State. Through a strategy of accountability for public schools and options for dissatisfied parents, they set out to reform the state's education system. The results are eye-opening.

The Morrison Institute's report "Beat the Odds" told the story of a demographer who called the American Southwest the "Appalachia of the 21st century."

Because Hispanic students generally score poorly on standardized tests, are less likely to graduate from high school, less likely still to attend college, the demographer said Appalachia-like poverty was only a matter of time.

For Arizona, the story gets worse.

The days for Arizona's AIMS test may be numbered.

In a little-noticed provision slipped into the budget bill that was passed in the early morning during the final hours of the legislative session, a task force was created to examine the merits of the state's high school exit test and explore alternatives.

By Tim Keller
Arizona's scholarship programs for children with disabilities and children in foster care have given hope to hundreds of children. Hope for a good education. Hope for a better future. For hundreds of children receiving scholarships, this hope has become reality.

Sadly, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has decided to take away their hope. Tom Horne has decided to put the programs "on hold." He says he does not intend to issue scholarships to any families next year.

Is demography destiny? Some educational experts say that it is. Therefore, states such as Arizona, with a growing Hispanic population, seem doomed to fail.

States can overcome this challenge. Exhibit A: Florida under Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. Startling statistics show that with abundant school choice and systemic education reform, Florida's Hispanic students already eclipse the average academic performance of many states.


In 2007, Arizona created a state tax deduction for contributions to 529 college savings plans. The deduction allows families to save tax-free for a child's college education, and the earnings accrued are not taxed if they are spent on higher education.  In 2008, individual taxpayers will be able to deduct up to $750 for 529 contributions, and joint filers can deduct up to $1,500.