Another good Star op ed

by David Safier

I don't know who Alfredo Diaz is, but he sounds like he's worth knowing. The Star describes him as "an entrepreneur in Tucson."

He wrote an op ed that's both a logical and an emotion indictment of the forces in our state willing to balance the budget on the backs of children and others who lack the political clout to fight for themselves.

Here's the thrust of his argument:

During prolonged droughts, when watering holes get smaller and food becomes scarce, wild animals compete for diminishing resources. Survival of the fittest takes over to the point that some animals eat their young to survive.

Similarly, during an economic downturn when resources become scarce, a people's true character and underlying core values are exposed. In a civilized society, the fit (adults in control of the resources) are supposed to protect the weak (children). Fundamentally, that is what makes us civilized.

Unfortunately, Brewer and our elected representatives have chosen to protect the fit at the expense of the weak. They have chosen to balance the budget by making disproportionate cuts in education and other essential services for children while preserving one of the lowest tax burdens in the United States (Arizona ranks No. 41 in total tax burden per capita).

He also brings together a strong bullet point list of facts to bolster his argument. It's worth a read.

11 responses to “Another good Star op ed

  1. Well check it out for yourself. State funding provides 85.93% of charter dollars, yet only 48.24% of District dollars. Local taxes provide another 41.11% to Districts. Charters get 6% from local sources. Here’s the link:(pdf)
    http://www.ade.az.gov/AnnualReport/AnnualReport2008/Vol1.pdf
    (page 6)

  2. Patt, I haven’t gone to the ADE website, but my understanding is that charter schools get somewhat less state funding per student because they don’t get some building funds (I think it is) that the traditional public schools get.

    I’m stating this as an observation rather than a challenge. I would be both surprised and enraged if your figures are correct. Are you sure you’ve got that right?

  3. Walt,
    AZ has been in the bottom five states for funding for many years. I did go to the ADE website to look for the finance report, and I ran the numbers as you suggested. I did not get the same number as Dr. Ladner, but I did see that the state gives charter schools almost two times more dollars than they give district schools.
    Considering that charters educate only eight percent of AZ students, yet receive twice the state funding of district schools, I believe the $9000 figure spent equally on all students in AZ to be erroneous.
    Patt

  4. To Patt,
    According to the site you posted California is in the 30’s in cost per pupil yet last night on CNN(Lew Dobbs) California was stated as being 49th. Why the huge discrepancy?

    Dr. Ladner suggests you go to the ” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction finance report” look on page 6 and write down the $9,232,916,095 figure which is revenue collected by all Arizona school districts. You then divide that figure by enrollment number for districts in the same document on page nine you will get $9707.45 total revenue per pupil. This came from am article published by Dr. Ladner.

  5. Thanks for the link, Patt. I have to admit my ignorance about the intricacies of school financing. As a teacher, I always used a gut check to decide whether funding was adequate: do teachers in my school have reasonable class sizes and enough materials to maintain educational levels along with a few extra dollars to innovate with?

    Maybe friend-of-the-blog Matthew Ladner can explain to us what’s wrong with the figures on the site.

  6. To Walt and anyone else who believes that AZ spends $9000 per student,

    Look here to see the reality:
    http://www.newamerica.net/education_budget_project/state_per_pupil_expenditures
    AZ spends $6036 per pupil, making it 48th in per pupil spending.

    And this is why it matters:
    “Per-pupil expenditure is roughly correlated with student achievement. In general, states with high per-pupil expenditure outperform states with low per-pupil expenditure on national achievement tests.”

    Guess which one we are.
    Patt

  7. GOP Spartan
    I think the chances of 6 more years of a GOP governor and legislature are about 0.

    The bigger problem you are going to have is that the “government supported monopoly” you wish to see dismantled is mandated by the state constitution.

  8. GOP Spartan, we’ll be broke, out of water, have run-down roads, illiterate kids, and you’ll be lucky if emergency responders arrive within 40 minutes after you called 9-11 because your home is being invaded. But hey, you’ll have real low tax rates.

  9. Mr. Diaz was right on. “School competition” is lingo for “let’s place public education, which serves between 85%-90% of Arizona’s kids, at an even greater disadvantage, all to the advantage of profiteers. What the GOP is not counting on is the mentality of many, many others. We care not only about our own children (see, we’re not selfish that way), we care about the kids who don’t have advocates. Given that generous mentality, we are determined and we will inform families and mobilize them to vote against those who stand to profit from these reprehensible acts. See we don’t scream loudly when we stand to lose money, we scream loudly when you hurt the most vulnerable.

  10. I see Mr. Diaz summed up the success of six years of Napolitano and Democrat and Rino enablers in the legislature nicely.

    It will be interesting to see where the state is after 6 years of Brewer and a fiscally conservative legislature that supports school competition.

    There’s a reason the NEA and AEA are screaming so loudly, they see the writing on the wall.

    They call it a dismantling of the public education system; I call it the elimination of a government supported monopoly and it’s about time.

  11. David,
    Depending on which formula is used it cost the taxpayers $9700 or $9000 per student in K-12. The $9700 figure is fully documented….but where does that put us on the national ranking? You could use the $9000 figure if you don’t wish to include drop outs and those that moved during the year. Where does that put us on the national ranking? It seems the national ranking figures that you accept are based on which one fits into your argument best at the time.