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>

Armed with a new report claiming thousands of California toddlers linger on preschool waiting lists, state law enforcement officials have signed on to a growing campaign to make preschool programs more available for poor children.

The report, released Tuesday by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, an Oakland-based preschool advocacy group, shows that 76 percent of the publicly funded preschool programs the organization surveyed reported having waiting lists for enrollment.

Corporations could set aside $10 million in taxes next year for scholarships so children from poor families could transfer from public to private schools under a bill that passed its first significant test at the Legislature on Thursday.

Arizona Republic Editorial

Making the tough choices about the future of public education in Arizona would be difficult enough with a firm understanding of what taxpayers are spending on education.

Incredibly, that most elemental fact - just how much are we spending on schools? - has eluded lawmakers, educators and parents for years.

Arizona's system of school financing has become such a Rube Goldberg puzzle of complicated formulas piled atop still more formulas that the most basic questions about school finance are practically unknowable.

PHOENIX-A new analysis of Arizona public school financing shows average total spending for an Arizona public school student is between $8,500 and $9,000. The report, co-published by the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation and the Goldwater Institute, presents information from the Arizona Department of Education's multiple accounting systems in a clear, straightforward way that is readily accessible to parents, taxpayers, and policymakers.

Arizona public school enrollment is projected to exceed one million students by 2013. Currently, Arizona ranks first nationally for highest capital outlay expenditures and second for interest on school debt expenditures, totaling nearly $2,000 per student. Arizona's private schools educate five percent of the state's K-12 student population. Developing policies that take advantage of existing and potential private school capacity could help ease the public school burden of educating significantly more students, while potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

PHOENIX-A new annual survey of Arizona private schools finds average private elementary and middle school tuition is $3,700, less than half the average per-pupil public school expenditure of $7,800. Average private high school tuition is $5,500.

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.

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