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-An analysis released yesterday by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) concludes that charter school student achievement is lagging.  The AFT stated that their analysis "shows that charter school students mostly underperform and sometimes score about as well as regular public school students." However, that conclusion is based on a limited one-year snapshot of test scores.

In response to a column I wrote on preschool, a young mother called in tears to ask, "How should I teach my 3-year-old?" She had read so many articles hyping preschool that she was afraid she'd be cheating her daughter if she kept her at home.

Preschool enthusiasts, in an earnest desire to ensure that every child has love and education, have wildly oversold preschool's benefits. Drawing attention to the importance of early education is fine, but as Benjamin Franklin said, "If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins."

In the year 2000, the United States Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) surveyed all of the nation's public schools concerning their special education students. The resulting data-known as the OCR 2000 Elementary and Secondary School Survey-allow for the exploration of the possible existence of racial bias in the assignment of special education labeling. Specifically, the OCR data contain information not only about the race of disabled students, but also about the type of disability labels they carry at the individual school level.

PHOENIX-A Goldwater Institute report released today shows that minority students in predominantly white  Arizona schools are significantly more likely to be placed in special education than their peers who attend predominantly minority schools. The analysis of new school-level data from the federal Office of Civil Rights shows Hispanic and American Indian males are labeled at a rate 64 percent higher in schools that are 75 percent or more white than in schools that are 25 percent or less white.

PHOENIX-Arizona's landmark School Tuition Tax Credit program helped 19,778 students attend schools of their choice in 2003, according to a report released last week by the Arizona Department of Revenue.

PHOENIX-Arizona's landmark School Tuition Tax Credit program ranked among the top two school choice programs in the nation in a March 15 report card released by the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation.


There is a growing body of literature comparing the effectiveness of charter schools and traditional public schools. No consensus has yet been reached, but there are persistent concerns that performance differences might be due to "better" students attending charter schools. Researchers must therefore first determine whether charter school students and traditional public school students are substantially different before they can attribute any achievement differences to the education provided by these schools.

PHOENIX-In a study released today by the Goldwater Institute, Human Resources Policy Corporation president Lewis C. Solmon and Pete Goldschmidt of the UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation provide strong evidence that the superior performance of Arizona charter school students is not the result of "creaming" the brightest students from traditional public schools. To the contrary, charter school students typically begin with lower test scores but show overall annual achievement growth roughly three points higher than traditional public school students.


Arizona's public education landscape offers a plethora of choices, from open public school enrollment to charter schools to private school scholarships funded by income tax credits. The one missing ingredient is school vouchers, which would provide private school opportunities to children whom the public schools are not serving well.


In November 2002, the Arizona Office of the Auditor General (OAG) released a report on school districts' administrative spending that found, on average, small school districts spent more per pupil than large districts. In response, the Arizona State Legislature established a commission to study the potential savings from statewide school district consolidation.