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>

President Obama made the following statement during his recent health care address:

It would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better, the same way public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in any way inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities.

Does Arizona rank near the bottom, in the middle, or towards the top in terms of academic achievement? New testing data sheds light on the subject.

When the Goldwater Institute gave a version of the United States Citizenship Test to Arizona public high school students, only 3.5 percent of Arizona public school students got six or more questions correct, the passing score for immigrants. After seeing the results, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs wanted to know how Oklahoma high school students would fare on the exam, so we gave them precisely the same set of questions.

A new random assignment study on charter school achievement found significantly higher academic gains for students attending charter schools.
 
The study, conducted by Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby, examined test results for students in New York, and compared the academic gains of those students who win a lottery to attend charter schools to those students who lose the lottery and remain in traditional schools.

Last Wednesday, the Arizona Republic ran a complex story with an unfortunately oversimplified headline: Tuition tax credits drain state money. The headline is all the more unfortunate given the fact that by the Republic reporter's own estimation the program results in a $3 million savings to taxpayers. I wish someone would "drain" my bank account in a similar fashion.

This summer, Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Dan Lips and I published an article in the journal Education Next explaining why a student's race, ethnicity or family income are not accurate predictors of their future academic success. We were very pleased when the Chancellor of New York City Schools, Joel Klein wrote a letter in response to the article.
 
Here is an excerpt from Klein's letter:

The Nation's Report Card released 2009 results on its 4th- and 8th- grade math test, and you can examine the results for Arizona and other states here.

The news is not good. Arizona has stalled out with bad scores.

With a score nine points below the national average, Arizona 4th graders know almost a grade level less math than the average American student. Florida and Texas--states with similar levels of spending and student demographics--both scored above the national average.

I received the following question after last week’s article explained that (once again) Arizona scored below the national average on the Nation’s Report Card, this time in Math:

Do these test scores take into consideration the massive influx of students who do not speak English and who do poorly on tests?

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein recently stated:

People have said to me ‘Chancellor, we will never fix education in America until we fix poverty in America.’ Now I care about fixing poverty, but those people have got it exactly backwards folks. We are never going to fix poverty in America until we fix education in America, and this report shows that it is entirely doable.

Baylor University economist Dr. Charles North developed an estimate of the savings to state taxpayers due to the individual tax credit, and shared his findings with the Arizona Legislature last week. You can find Dr. North’s analysis here and view his testimony to the Ad Hoc Committee on Private School Tax Credit Review here.

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