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>

Since 1998, BASIS Tucson has offered a world class educational option to parents and students in the greater Tucson area.  After less than one decade in operation, BASIS Tucson is now one of the best college prep schools in the country and a demonstration of just how good education “made in America” can be.

Since 2003, BASIS Scottsdale has offered parents and middle school students in the greater Phoenix area a world class educational option.  In 2007, BASIS Scottsdale opened an Upper School, which offers the same curriculum that earned BASIS Tucson a top ten ranking in Newsweek’s “America’s Best [Public] High Schools: The Top 100” list.  Schools Director, Diane Moser, and founders, Michael and Olga Block, anticipate that BASIS Scottsdale will join BASIS Tucson on Newsweek’s top 100 when it becomes eligible for ranking after a few years in operation.

From the political notebook:

The Arizona House, on a party-line vote, approved a bill last week to put some teeth in the ballot measure passed last year by voters to deny bail to illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes.

The courts have made a hash of its implementation.

Ordinarily, court commissioners make bail determinations at the initial appearance, which used to often occur without either a prosecutor or a defense attorney present.

Student monitoring is vital to education, and Arizona appears to be flying blind

The Arizona Department of Education recently mailed me, and every other parent of a public school child, a slick 32-page brochure on the performance of our public schools.

As most parents probably did, I quickly skimmed the cover message.

"Dear Parent:

"Arizona citizens are entitled to know how student test scores compare with the test scores in other states. I'm pleased to report that Arizona students perform above the national average (emphasis in original)."

Q: What tests do Arizona students take?
A: In Arizona students take the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) and a modified version of the TerraNova exam. Some students also take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also called the Nations Report Card.

The Goldwater Institute's latest policy report, "A Test of Credibility" reveals how Arizona inflates student progress with the AIMS test.  The claim that Arizona students test above average does not square with the results on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  This graph demonstrates the proficiency levels for both tests.  Are Arizona's students proficient, or is the Arizona Department of Education full of hot air?  You decide.

Our nation faces a crucial dilemma: postsecondary education is increasingly a requisite to meaningful participation in an information economy, but college costs are skyrocketing, placing such education out of financial reach for many. If we do nothing to solve the problem at the front end, we will face a Hobson's choice of importing increasing numbers of college-educated workers from abroad, outsourcing professional jobs, or increasing taxpayer subsidies to college students.

PHOENIX A key attorney involved in an anti-preference ballot measure says that if it becomes law, he'll use it to try to end the admissions policies at the magnet schools in the Tucson Unified School District.

Clint Bolick said the initiative clearly would make it illegal for any government agency to use race in its decision-making process. That's exactly what's happening when minority students are denied admission to certain schools, he said.

The article on this initiative to ban racial and ethnic preferences in public education, contracting and employment could leave the impression is an attack on Affirmative action. Not so.

When California banned preferences, university officials responded with efforts such as providing tutors to inner-city youngsters to boost their academic performance so they could be admitted on their merits rather than skin color. That is true affirmative action.