Deconstructing another AZ Republican education talking point

by David Safier
Yesterday I began my journey through the Page O' Facts put together by Senate Republican Staff Policy Advisor Javan Mesnard to combat the assertion that Arizona is 49th in education funding. His method: throw out so many meaningless facts and figures that you'll forget about the pitiful state of our K-12 education budget.

If you remember, Mesnard said we're 26th in the nation in "Funding per classroom of students." It sounds good, until you logic it out. Arizona has the highest pupil-teacher ration of any state except Utah. The more students you have in a classroom, the more funding in that classroom. Mesnard is actually saying our large class sizes are a good thing.

Today's fact from Mesnard is: Arizona is 4th in the "% increase in expenditures over 20 years (in inflation-adjusted numbers)."

It's not important, just funny, that he threw in the term "inflation-adjusted numbers" to add credibility to this statistic. If you're comparing the increase across the years from state to state, the ratings won't change whether or not you adjust for inflation, because everyone is going through the same basic rate of inflation. He just threw it in because he liked the way it sounded.

So, to the important stuff. Why is Arizona's percent increase in education expenditures higher than all but three other states? It's because we've been growing like mad. Arizona's population has increased at a far more rapid rate than most other states. I don't have figures going back twenty years, but from 1996 to 2006, Arizona was second only to Nevada in its percent increase in population.

Here's the simple mathematical formula Mesnard uses: Total number of students times Amount spent per student equals Total educational expenditures.

So, if we have a high percent increase in the total number of students, we'll have a high percent increase in our total expenditures.

Translation: Mesnard's "fact" is true, but it couldn't be less relevant. The amount we spend per student is the figure that matters, not the total amount we spend, and everyone but Mesnard and the Goldwater Institute agrees, we're 49th in the nation in our per student spending.

Thanks again to Lisa Hawkins and MaryLee Moulton of LEAN for doing the research that makes Mesnard's canards so easy to deconstruct.

0 responses to “Deconstructing another AZ Republican education talking point

  1. Learning how to skewer lying statistics masquerading as reasoning – I am loving it.

  2. David Safier

    Sheapenny, if you’re going to comment on this site, your comment has to have a direct relation to the post I’ve put up. Otherwise you’re hijacking the discussion for your own agenda, which is what you’ve done here.

    The place to go off on topics of your own is a blog of your own, or a letter to the editor, or an entry in your diary, or an email to a friend. Not here.

    If I see any more posts as far off the topic as this, I’ll remove them, the same way I’d remove spam posts.

  3. Did you ever factor in the fact Raytheon students(Air Force plant#44 contributes direct payments to the schools for teaching the kids of there employees) in light that Obama is going to cut the F-22 Fighter which has all the systems and arms on board made by Raytheon in Tucson!

    So much for saving American jobs by Obama; all this guy seems to do is run around the world appologizing for the American Citizen saying we are arrogant!

    He went to France saying we don’t care about the French?

    I have a GHQ letter of which my Father served in France during World War I and he talked many times of how we American’s were welcomed as we died in place of The French who did not put up a fight;and later let Hitler walk into Paris!

    We American’s rebuilt Europe with the Marshall Plan from Education to infastructure that gave Europe a new start; and We American’s are Arrogant!!??

    What I would like to see in the American Education System is teaching History as it was and NOT being embarrased by this President and future Presidents utter stupidity in what WE American’s sacrificed for every nation around this planet for their benefit NOT ours!

    It is embarrasing for a so called college professor like Obama who taught our kids LIES ; and we paid this guy tuition in the tens of thousands of dollars; for what??!!

  4. Here is a fact. You can’t spend percents…only dollars. Since 1986, only one state has increased their per pupil expenditure less than Arizona and tha is Alaska. But, Alaska funded their pupils at over $11,000 per in 1986 so they, coming at slightly above that now, will get a pass. AZ on the other hand went from like $5,000 to $6,000. I received this information when I was at the House for an education funding 101 session. Incidentally, John Kavanaugh asked many questions that revealed his lack of knowledge.