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>

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.

Questions over the long-term effectiveness of Head Start and debates over the research into it are almost as old the program itself.

As early as 1969, an educational testing and data-reporting organization called the Westinghouse Learning Corp. conducted the first major evaluation of the program, finding that the cognitive and language gains seen among Head Start participants at 1st grade had disappeared by 2nd or 3rd grade.

But critics argued with the study's design, saying the comparison group may not have been as disadvantaged as the children in Head Start.

The complexity of Arizona public school finance makes gathering basic information extremely difficult

There's something about our nation's capital that converts many leading Democrats to school choice. Perhaps it's the glimpse that Washington, D.C. affords into inner-city public schools.

But in most cases this appreciation of school choice extends only to their own children -- and not to the millions of children in failing public schools. Indeed, a nearly perfect correlation exists among Democratic presidential candidates who have exercised school choice for their own children and those who would deny such choices to the parents of other children.

This month marks the fifth anniversary of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the key education initiative of the Bush administration. Is it time to renew our vows, or go our separate ways?

Current federal law requires public schools to test students against state developed standards, and rank the performance of schools according to the results. Schools failing to make adequate progress face losing federal funds.

So what's the problem? It isn't working.

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