Education Reform

Too often, the traditional public-school model fails students and teachers. Charter schools, scholarship tax credits, and merit pay are giving students a better education and teachers a better career.

<p>Too often, the traditional public-school model fails students and teachers. Charter schools, scholarship tax credits, and merit pay are giving students a better education and teachers a better career. </p>

Mickey Kaus of Slate.com covered a fascinating episode at the Democratic National Convention. In a standing room only event, Colorado State Senate President Peter Groff and reform minded Democratic mayors Adrian Fenty from Washington D.C. and Cory Booker from Newark took education unions to task.

Kaus described the event, writing (emphasis in the original):

Its round one in the battle over school vouchers for children with disabilities and children in foster care, programs signed into law last year by Governor Janet Napolitano.

While I'm more of a Robert Nozick guy, it is an interesting thought experiment to judge todays public schools against the principles of John Rawls, an enormously influential liberal political philosopher.

The Arizona Republic recently featured a two-part series on alleged financial improprieties of charter schools. Focusing on a small number of rogue schools leads one to wonder if the reporter's intent was to tar the entire charter school movement and invite a regulatory response.

Only a few years ago Indianapolis suffered from a 35 percent high school graduation rate. Mayor Bart Petersen took action, challenging the status quo by sponsoring and authorizing an array of charter schools.

"We are simply in an age where cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all, 1950s style education just doesn't work for a lot of kids. The evidence is the dropout rate. The evidence is the number of at-risk kids who are failing at school," Petersen wrote.

Say your family finances hit a rough spot. What should you do? One option would be to pull out the plastic and rack up credit card debt. You don't have to be a financial genius to understand that's not very smart. Yet that is pretty much Governor Napolitano's plan to address Arizona's revenue shortfall.

State government in Arizona has gorged itself for the past five years, growing at a truly unsustainable 12 percent rate. State revenue is already $300 million under budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, with the total deficit projected to hit at least $600 million.

Sky Harbor International Airport recently announced it will conduct a "disparity study" to determine whether it should increase the percentage of disadvantaged businesses-those owned by women or designated minorities-holding vendor contracts at the airport.

Here's another idea: how about using a blind process to award concession contracts to the highest bidder?­ That would ensure equal opportunity while providing added revenues to the airport that could help offset the increased cost to travelers for security and other services.

At his recent swearing in, State Representative Tom Chabin declared that an "investment in our public schools," would be his passion as a legislator. Like other well-meaning lawmakers, he assumes that lavish spending is the key to improving our schools.

Next month, voters in Utah will go to the polls to decide whether to give parents the opportunity to choose the best school for their children. The National Education Association is pouring resources into the state to defeat the initiative.

Two-thirds of Arizona's voters last year approved Prop. 207, creating the nation's strongest protections for private property rights. Prop. 207 curbed eminent domain abuse and limited "regulatory takings," requiring compensation when government regulation diminishes property values for ends that fall outside traditional city police powers. Some cities have complied, but others have sought to evade.

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