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>

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. 


Phoenix--Arizona should become the first state in the nation to provide tax relief for parents who put aside money for educational expenses incurred during their children's kindergarten through high school years, argues a new report by the Goldwater Institute.

Prior to joining Goldwater, Ladner was director of state projects at the Alliance for School Choice, where he provided support and resources for state-based school choice efforts. Ladner has written numerous studies on school choice, charter schools and special education reform.

Ladner is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and received both a Masters and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Houston.

Phoenix--We've come a long way, baby! In just 14 years, Arizona has gone from having no school choice programs to leading the nation in parental choice. A new report released today by the Goldwater Institute takes stock of the existing school choice programs, makes recommendations to improve each one, and outlines new programs the state could create to provide even more opportunities for Arizona schoolchildren.