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>

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.

Steven Colbert recently had a segment on college rankings. Colbert expressed disappointment that his alma mater, Dartmouth, did not rank well in the Washington Monthly rankings of college effectiveness. Washington Monthly focuses on the graduation rates of low-income students. Colbert complained that Dartmouth has plenty of social mobility, as you could enter a plutocrat and graduate an oligarch.

Governor Mitt Romney has an opportunity to help to deliver a victory at the ballot box in Utah next month when voters will decide whether to repeal the state's recently-enacted universal school voucher program.

An examination of the trends in recent test scores shows the good news is that Arizona forth graders are improving; the bad news is the gains aren't lasting.

Pacific Research Institute scholars Lance Izumi, Vicki Murray, and Rachel Chaney offer an alarming wake-up call for parents in their new book Not as Good as You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice.

The authors tell a troubling story about the quality of public schools in California's middle class communities. Too many students at these schools are not grade-level proficient in English. Too many of these students are not grade-level proficient in math. And too many of these students are not ready for college-level work.

The Education Next article Can Catholic Schools Be Saved? asks the provocative question: Will charter schools finish off inner city Catholic private schools? The author cites a RAND Corporation study that found private schools in Michigan lose one student for every three students charter schools gain.

The patience of the Arizona taxpayer is not infinite. Voters sent a clear message last week in school bond and budget override elections, defeating 22 such measures while passing only 11. Some of those passed were by very narrow margins. Some of the budget overrides that were defeated had been in place for decades.

There has already been a steady stream of news stories about districts struggling to deal with a new fiscal reality. This situation reminds me that the Chinese use the same symbol for crisis and opportunity.

The Constitution of the United States established what form of government?­ Which wall was President Reagan referring to when he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"?

These questions were part of a 60-question test of civic literacy administered to college freshmen and seniors at 50 American colleges and universities. The test (available at www.isi.org) covered American history, government, international relations and economics.

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