by David Safier
Arizona is no longer Number One in the percent we've cut our spending per student since 2008. We're Number Three. Oklahoma and Alabama are now occupy the top two spots on the Education Spending Wall of Shame. Last year, we topped the list with a 21.8% in per student cuts since 2008. We've lowered that number to a mere 17.2%.
Before we praise the Arizona legislature for seeing the light and spending more money educating our children, we have to remember it took a court order to force the lege to add $80 million to its K-12 funding because it's required by law to adjust the education budget for inflation. That accounts for a significant amount of the spending rise — or I should say more accurately, the lowered spending decrease. And the Republicans, who never want to be accused of spending a penny on children they don't have to, are going to court to fight against having to add that $80 million. If they win the court battle, we could be top the Ed Spending Wall of Shame once again.
Expect conservatives to use a different ranking to make a case that Arizona is closer to the middle in its ed cuts. It sounds much better to say Arizona ranks 11th in the actual dollars we cut per student. But a little simple math reveals that, because our actual per student spending is so shamefully low, when we cut a larger percentage of our budget than other states, we still may be cutting fewer dollars per student.
Final fact from the article: 14 states raised the amount they spend on education during the economic downturn starting in 2008. Massachusetts, for instance, whose scores on international tests rival the top countries in the world, raised its spending 6%. Iowa increased its spending 11.2%. And North Dakota topped the charts with a whopping 27.2% increase. Even in tough economic times, some people still think it's important to give our children the best chance for a bright future we can offer them.