Sunday, December 05, 2004

Arizona second-stingiest to schools

Arizona has the second-stingiest school funding in the nation. The GOP controlled legislature gives us yet another reason to be be proud to be a citizen of Arizona; we are 50th out of 51 in K-12 education spending in the nation. We can hold our heads high and proclaim, "At least we spend more than Utah!" Sends shiver down my spine. I'm so proud I could just burst.

I just know this is going to increase the cache of my all-Arizona education among the nation's employers! I went to K-12 in Arizona, got my BA in AZ, and my JD in AZ. How are we going to ever be a competitive economy in this world when employers will look at people like myself and think, "Sure he's college educated, a lawyer, got decent grades... but come on, this is Arizona we're talkin' about... I mean jeez, their school system sucks. Let me see those other resumes."

As a taxpayer, I feel ripped off. And as a citizen, I feel cheated that my government would let things get this bad. We spend only 2/3 of the average national per-pupil expenditure. We pay our teachers 5 grand less than the national average. If we aren't spending money on education, where the hell is it going? We are 17th in state and local tax burden in the nation. How does that figure?

17th in taxes, 50th in education spending. Chew on that.

Then call you state and county reps and senators. Even if you are Republican, I assume you are capable of reproducing or, in fact, have done so, and those children need education to succeed in life. Why are you letting your political representatives stick you with the 17th highest tax burden and the next to worst funded educational system? 17th, and we can't afford all day Kindergarten? Right.

The only possible reason is that the GOP majority simply doesn't care about our kid's futures.


At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to do some more research. There is no evidence of a correlation between spending and quality of education. In some states and localities, it should be obvious, overall costs are lower and spending will reflect that.

Beyond the obvious factors influencing costs and spending, look at the current state of Wasington, DC schools. From what I have read, they have the highest spending in the nation, over $10,000 per student, and the WORST performance in the nation, worse even than the low-spending Arizona. Also, on average, private schools spend less per student than the average public schools and the private school students generally outperform public school students.

Perhaps the problem isnt the superficial statistic of low spending but the system itself. Dig deeper and you will find the real culprit. You may want to refer to a less biased institution than the teacher's union.

Also consider the fact that allthough spending continues to rise (while costs other than teacher salaries remain stable or increase slowly), student performance continues to decline dramatically. Class size has declined (a common complaint from teachers) but student performance is still low.

If you want to convince people to support more spending you will need to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that spending directly correlates to performance because really, it doesnt take a lot of resources to teach a child how to read, write, do basic math, understand scientific principles, and learn about history. And then continue to explore these things on his own. Most of us are mainly autodidactic, at any rate.

Also on the low pay of teachers, if you factor out part time teachers and entry-level positions and such, you will see that the average (experienced) public school teacher makes more in salary than the average college educated worker with the same years of experience in Arizona (& around the nation).

Also, you have to factor in cost of living relative to salary. $30,000 in Arizona goes a lot further than $40,000 in L.A. for example. It is a fallacy to compare salaries without taking that into consideration.

If Arizona Democrats really care about our kids then they should do their homework and work harder to track down the real problems with the school system rather than putting the band-aid of funding on the huge, gaping, infected wound that is the public school system!

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Bridget said...


The Rand Corporation, a non-profit insitution, did a scientific analysis of spending related to school and student performance here:

Needless to say, they found no correlation. If you stick to this tax and spend mentality when will it ever be enough?

Also, why is it that home schooled children tought by high school drop out mothers do better on standardized tests than average public school kids? Because contrary to conventional "wisdom", ie the NEA, education & knowledge has nothing to do with money.

Please see the following for more information:

At 7:29 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Wow, the two of you are both willfully and mendaciously misleading. I read the Rand study, which the previous poster obviously did not, although I commend the courage of actually citing his sources. The Rand study indicates there are correlations. It simply finds that the efficiency of different sorts of additional expenditures varies according to the features of the system being supplemented. The idea that there is no correlation between spending and results is completely absurd: why not every state stop spending on education altogether if that's the case? According to you people's absurd theory, it won't make any difference.

The Rand study, in fact, said that "Both our results and the Tennessee results indicate that targeted reductions [in teacher/pupil ratios] in early grades
produce sustained gains." It goes on to suggest that, overall, the greatest gains to performance are achieved by investing more in early education. Exactly as our Governor wants to do with the all day Kindergarten program.

Those who despise the egalitarian and democratizing effects of public schools can lie till the hearts content and blow all sorts of non-sense about how the public schools are an irredemable cess-pit, but that doesn't make it so. The fact is that those who are hostile to public schools want to divert public resources into parochial schools of one stripe or another, or to help subsidize elitist private schools. Public schools build modern America, and they can and will work for the future of America, too... so long as people don't buy the lies of the school's enemies.


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