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>


As the 2002 legislative session unfolds, lawmakers are grappling with what appear to be competing priorities: balancing the budget and improving education. Faced with an estimated $1.5 billion budget shortfall, legislators must rein in spending.1 Yet the need to reform Arizona's K-12 education system is also urgent. Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that one out of four Arizona eighth graders can't read and one out of three hasn't mastered basic math skills.2 This proposal offers legislators a way to improve educational opportunities for students while achieving fiscal savings.

Phoenix, AZ-The Arizona Republic proclaimed in its lead story Saturday, March 23, that "School tax credits fail poor." But that claim is based on a misleading report released today by the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University.

Phoenix, AZ-With a $1.5 billion debt looming overhead, Arizona's policymakers are rushing to plug the state's leaky coffers.  According to news reports, a handful of legislators have put the state's nationally renowned education scholarship

Phoenix, AZ-On Wednesday, February 20, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris. The case will decide the constitutionality of the Cleveland, Ohio, school choice program, and may have important implications for the future of education reform in Arizona.

Just how well Arizona's charter schools are educating students remains a muddy picture, despite a national study released this week that concluded students in loosely regulated charter schools in other states perform poorly.

The study fails to offer clear data about student progress at Arizona's nearly 500 charter schools, but it does cast doubt on the idea that the charter movement's more autonomous, free-market approach can produce better learning in the classroom.


Since the first two charter schools opened in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1992, a reliable study of the effects of charter school attendance on student achievement has been called for.  The question in evaluating the effects of charter school attendance is whether charter school students perform better or worse, on average, than similar students in traditional public schools (TPS).



Arizona's school finance system is arguably one of the most complex in the United States.  Over the years, both the Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) and the Goldwater Institute have made efforts to keep taxpayers and policy makers up to date or to introduce them to the major moving parts of this rather involved topic.

Fifteen years ago, the United States was declared "A Nation At Risk" by the National Commission on Excellence in Education.  The alarm was sounded, but fifteen years later many feel that the outlook is still grim.  In the recent Third International Mathematics and Science Study, American 12th graders ranked 19th out of 21 participating nations in mathematics; 16th out of 21 nations in science; 15th out of 16.

An easy way to make it into the papers in Arizona is to come up with a list ranking the state's standing in various indicators of well-being. Kids Count, the Children's Rights Council, the Corporation for Enterprise Development, all make news telling Arizonans how bad off they are compared with other states. However, if you look closely at the lists measuring child welfare, several remarkable features emerge. First, put side-by-side, the lists developed by groups across the spectrum are quite similar. The teenage birth rate, single parent families, high school dropouts, juvenile crime-observers on the left and right agree that these are things society should worry about.