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>


At a time when every dollar counts, appropriation decisions must be based on fact, not fiction-no matter how noble the fiction. Arizona's taxpayers subsidize the estimated 6.8 percent of residents enrolled in the state's two-year and four-year colleges and universities. Taxpayers also subsidize the one-third of enrollees who are nonresidents. What is the return on this investment?

Guest Opinion

In 1975, Congress passed what is now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Since then, the number of students in special-education programs nationwide has grown 65 percent, to more than 6 million.


The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), designed to prevent the neglect and segregation of special education students, has resulted in the neglect and segregation of even larger student populations of minorities nationwide, including Arizona. The culprit: Perverse financial incentives to classify children as "learning disabled" when in fact they are "learning deficient," meaning they require remedial reading instruction, not special education programs.


Minority students are more likely to be labeled learning-disabled in predominantly Anglo Arizona school districts than in racially diverse districts, a study released today says.

But Tucson school districts appear to buck the trend, with their percentage of minority special-education students accurately reflecting districts' overall racial makeup.

Victor Hugo once said, "He who opens a school door closes a prison." But according to the 2001 report by the Governor's Task Force on Efficiency and Accountability in K-12 Education, "Student achievement in Arizona is unacceptable by any measure?.The system is characterized by mediocrity and commitment to the status quo."

Phoenix-On Monday, March 24, the Arizona State Senate delivered a victory for proponents of educational freedom. With a bipartisan majority of 16 votes, the Senate passed SB1263, a corporate scholarship tax credit program that could give thousands of low-income, public school students the opportunity to transfer to private schools next fall.

Nearly a dozen education-related tax credit bills could revamp donations for schools, affecting campuses and tax returns across the state.

Arizonans can earn tax credits if they donate money for tuition at private schools or extracurricular activities at public schools. But the string of proposed laws could create an entirely new landscape.

If House Bill 2421 passes, the donations that now can be used only for extracurricular activities could be used for classroom instruction.

A father once wrote that formal schooling is futile when parents don't provide the right education during their children's earliest years.

That father was Aristotle and the work, dedicated to his son, the Nicomachean Ethics. Yet in its Monday editorial "Wanted: Teachers," The Republic makes this parent-teacher a mouthpiece for state planning.

Normally a balanced arbiter of news, the Tribune unfortunately has a blind spot for early education research, as seen most recently in Cece Todd's story "GOP plan eliminates funding for early childhood programs," (Jan. 29) and the editorial "Business sense: Expanding access to preschool would be good for Arizona's future" (Jan. 19).

New day care center features "educational toys, friendly, well-educated staff," and "a large, brightly-lit play area," but the room was "a bit crowded." Two stars.

A Zagat-style guide to childcare is just one of the possibilities proposed in "Growing Arizona," a new report released by the Arizona School Readiness Task Force. The report recommends that the state "establish a voluntary quality rating system, such as a one-, two-, or three-star rating, to give parents simple information they can use in choosing child care and preschool."