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>

If there was an award for mindless over-regulation by government school bureaucracy, Arizona's Department of Education would be a favorite to win it.

The ADE has decreed that the curricula of all public schools, including charter schools, must be exactly aligned grade by grade.

One of its specific requirements (the educational rationale for which is obscure at best) is that all schools must teach U.S. history in the seventh and eighth grades.

When No Child Left Behind passed in 2001, it enjoyed wide bipartisan support.

Now there are growing concerns that the bill to reauthorize the act will undermine the public school transparency it sought to establish.

NCLB requires schools to test fourth- and eighth-grade students and make the test results public. Schools face sanctions for underperformance.

The requirement for how many students must pass the tests increases each year until reaching 100 percent in 2014.

Phoenix--Three previous Superintendents of Public Instruction, who served consecutively from 1987 to 2003, have filed court documents in support of a Goldwater Institute lawsuit against a new Arizona Department of Education curriculum alignment mandate. The Superintendent of Public Instruction is the top elected education official in Arizona.

Sen. Hillary Clinton ignited few fireworks, speaking before the nation's largest teachers union over the July 4 holiday. But one proposal is proving explosive: state-run preschool for all families.

Clinton's proposal introduced Thursday in the Senate would give states $28 billion over five years to incorporate the nation's 120,000 preschools now run in firms, churches and storefronts into a government-run system. The former Goldwater girl has come a long way from the western ways and neighborhood values she once embraced.

Phoenix--Today five charter schools announced they filed suit to prevent being forced to change the curricula that has helped them rank among the top public schools in the country. The lawsuit is the first filed by the new Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

Since 1998, BASIS Tucson has offered a world class educational option to parents and students in the greater Tucson area.  After less than one decade in operation, BASIS Tucson is now one of the best college prep schools in the country and a demonstration of just how good education “made in America” can be.

Since 2003, BASIS Scottsdale has offered parents and middle school students in the greater Phoenix area a world class educational option.  In 2007, BASIS Scottsdale opened an Upper School, which offers the same curriculum that earned BASIS Tucson a top ten ranking in Newsweek’s “America’s Best [Public] High Schools: The Top 100” list.  Schools Director, Diane Moser, and founders, Michael and Olga Block, anticipate that BASIS Scottsdale will join BASIS Tucson on Newsweek’s top 100 when it becomes eligible for ranking after a few years in operation.

From the political notebook:

The Arizona House, on a party-line vote, approved a bill last week to put some teeth in the ballot measure passed last year by voters to deny bail to illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes.

The courts have made a hash of its implementation.

Ordinarily, court commissioners make bail determinations at the initial appearance, which used to often occur without either a prosecutor or a defense attorney present.

Student monitoring is vital to education, and Arizona appears to be flying blind

The Arizona Department of Education recently mailed me, and every other parent of a public school child, a slick 32-page brochure on the performance of our public schools.

As most parents probably did, I quickly skimmed the cover message.

"Dear Parent:

"Arizona citizens are entitled to know how student test scores compare with the test scores in other states. I'm pleased to report that Arizona students perform above the national average (emphasis in original)."

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