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>

Congratulations are in order to Gov. Janet Napolitano. Most people would take a celebratory pause after a landslide re-election, but I'd be surprised if our governor did.

In a sense, Napolitano's greatest race has only just begun: a race to establish her legacy before the clock runs out.

Napolitano's first term will be remembered as a time of strong economic growth. Revenue poured into the treasury, letting lawmakers increase spending and cut taxes simultaneously.

Advocates for school district consolidation are gearing up to press their issue in the next legislative session. But theres a bigger, better question: Do we still need school districts at all?

The consolidation issue is a perennial. It makes intuitive sense that we have too many school districts, with more than 200 in the state, 54 in Maricopa County alone. Many believe economies of scale could be realized and administrative costs reduced with fewer school districts.

By a single vote, over 87,000 children were given an educational reprieve last Wednesday by the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled that public charter schools are constitutional. But the narrowly rejected legal theory remains alive, a cancer that threatens to destroy education reform around the nation.

Studies show NCLB duplicative, private schools have higher teacher-student ratio

Under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, states, local governments, private institutions, and the people--not the federal government--bear the responsibility of funding and administering education. Congress, however, circumvents the 10th Amendment through the Spending Clause in Article 1 to justify funding a vast array of federal programs, including the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). NCLB created a federal education accountability system that often conflicts with Arizona's existing education accountability system, AZ Learns. As a result, principled federalists, frustrated by the overly prescriptive federal education law, have called for Arizona to opt out of NCLB.

Proposition 203, "First Things First," was designed to be popular. But should it be? It strengthens government's role in the upbringing of young children, at the expense of parents. And it's funded with a regressive, unstable tax.

Darcy Olsen is interviewed by Channel 12's Tram Mai regarding newly enacted school choice programs.

We can't spend our way out of this problem.

Total education funding now consumes more than 60 percent of Arizona's general fund. But there is no pleasing some.

John Wright, president of the Arizona Education Association, says the bi-partisan budget deal "represents a monumental missed opportunity." Despite receiving a nearly half billion dollar funding increase for public k-12 schools, Mr. Wright argues that still more spending is necessary.

What I remember most about preschool were the waffle patterned wafer cookies. You can still find them in the same three great flavors as always -- chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

Preschool has changed a lot since then. With childhood obesity on the rise, it's a safe bet that cookies are getting harder to come by. Building blocks and Lincoln logs are giving way to Dora DVDs.

But the biggest change may be the sheer volume of kids trading in sippy cups for school desks. Preschool, once an `a la carte option, has become an educational must-have.

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