Category Archives: Education

Plenty of blame to go around

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

Let me first say that I have much respect for Richard Gilman of “Bringing Up Arizona” and the work he has done on behalf of public education. I also very much appreciate his gracious support of my work and wish him well as he moves on to a new chapter of his life.

I did find much though, in his last blog post, to disagree with. It shouldn’t have surprised me, as the last time he and I had lunch, it was pretty clear he was frustrated. I tried to allay his concerns, but obviously, failed. It’s not that I don’t agree with his position that “the status quo in K–12 education is not acceptable. Of course I do. We have the lowest paid teachers in the nation, our per-pupil funding ranks 48th, and our education performance ranking isn’t much better. I do not agree though, that ”the onus belongs as much or more on public school administrators.” School administrators are after all, busy managing their schools and school districts. They are busy focusing on their students and the teachers educating them. That’s where their focus should be. Continue reading

Chair of AZ Senate Ed Cmte Needs Education

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

AZ Senator Sylvia Allen, Senate Education Committee Chair, recently asked, “When is it [funding for education] ever enough?” That depends on what kind of educational opportunities we want to offer our students. Additional funding alone can’t assure high quality schools, but it can provide a broader curriculum, more experienced teachers, smaller class sizes, better maintained facilities more conducive to learning, and much more.

It might be better to ask how much IS NOT enough. I believe there is not enough when: our educational performance is ranked 44th in the nation, our per pupil funding 48th, and our teacher salaries 50th2,000 of our classrooms are without a teacher and another 2,000-plus are filled by uncertified personnel; and our districts received only two percent of the facility repair and maintenance funding they needed from 2008 to 2012, creating a backlog impossible to clean up under current funding constraints. Continue reading

(Update) Kansas is a cautionary tale for Arizona: state Supreme Court rules education funding is unconstitutionally low

Following up on an earlier post in which the right-wing Brownbackistan fna Kansas state legislature passed an income tax increase to balance the state budget after the devastating effects of Governor Sam Bownback’s “trickle down” tax cut utopia experiment, Kansas is a cautionary tale for Arizona: pigs do fly!, Governor Brownback made his choice to veto the tax increase.

As I predicted, there were enough Tea-Publican anti-tax “trickle down” true believer zealots in the legislature to sustain the governor’s veto. Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax policies survive — barely — after Kansas Senate vote: “Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature tax policy was saved by three votes as the Kansas Senate fell short Wednesday of overriding his veto on a bill that would have generated $1 billion over two years.” “[M]any lawmakers in the House remain committed to rolling back Brownback’s 2012 tax cuts, which they blame for the state’s fiscal hole, and it could take months before they achieve a compromise.”

It is easy to imagine our Koch-bot Governor Doug Ducey and the anti-tax zealots in our lawless Tea-Publican legislature doing the same thing. Rather than raise taxes and reject the dogma of their “trickle down” tax faith, they would rather fiddle while Rome Arizona burns.

Now Kansas — as very well Arizona may face  from a future lawsuit — has another budget-busting disaster on its hands. Kansas Supreme Court Says State Education Spending Is Too Low:

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the state’s spending on public education was unconstitutionally low, dealing a new blow to Gov. Sam Brownback, who is facing a rebellion from his own Republican Party over his trademark tax-cutting doctrine.

In a unanimous ruling, the court said black, Hispanic and poor students were especially harmed by the lack of funding, pointing to lagging test scores and graduation rates. The justices set a June 30 deadline for lawmakers to pass a new constitutional funding formula, sending them scrambling to find more money to pay for a solution.

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Our lawless Tea-Publican legislature is starving school districts, reducing classroom spending

Too few people read newspapers, and too many who do read only the headline caption to an article. Copy editors write the headlines, and too often the headlines are misleading and do not accurately reflect the content of the reporting.

For example, our sad small town newspaper the Arizona Daily Star ran the headline “Arizona spends less in classrooms” in its print edition, and “Arizona spending in classrooms declines year over year” in its online version for this Howard Fischer report. The Arizona Capitol Times similarly ran the headline “K-12 classroom spending reaches all-time low” for Fischer’s report.

So kudos to the copy editor of the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff for a headline that accurately reflects Howard Fischer’s reporting, Amid cuts in state capital funds, classroom spending falls:

Arizona’s mainstream public schools overall spent less of the money they received last year in the classroom than in any of the 16 years the state has been keeping track.

The trend tracks a cumulative $2 billion cut in state capital funding since 2009, forcing many school districts to shift dollars from teacher salaries and instruction into air conditioner and boiler repairs.

And state funding per pupil, when adjusted for inflation, has fallen from $8,794 in 2008 to $7,746 now.

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Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

Let me be clear from the onset that I am “borrowing” this article. In fact unless the words are in bold italics, they are hers, not mine. I’m hoping the author, Athens Banner-Herald columnist Myra Blackmon, a resident of Washington, Ga., sees my “borrowing” as the “sincerest form of flattery. I chose to use her piece titled “School vouchers raise too many questions,” because I found it both very well written and remarkable in that I needed only change the state name and some of the numbers to make it apply to Arizona.

With the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education, we can expect to see a flurry of new “initiatives” designed to address the so-called education problem in our country. For the moment, let’s set aside the relationship of poverty and poor academic achievement. Ignore for a moment the fact that our schools are actually performing pretty well.

We will likely see a renewed push for voucher programs, where parents can supposedly take the tax money allocated for their children and use it to enroll them in private, religious or charter schools, many of which are combinations of those categories. Continue reading

Payday Loan Elementary

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

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