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>

With rising tuition and rapidly growing enrollment at Arizona's public universities and colleges, policymakers are looking for cost-efficient ways to expand capacity.

To help address this challenge, plans allowing community colleges to offer third-year courses and even four-year degrees have been proposed. On its face, such an expansion sounds reasonable. But a closer examination suggests this is not the simple solution it might seem.

It's 8:30 a.m. and students are starting to funnel into veteran nurse Jeanne Cozine's office at Line-weaver Elementary School.

"It's Monday. We're primary care," Cozine says.

Cozine, like school nurses across Tucson, still deals with common occurrences such as stomachaches and fevers. But increasingly, these professionals are dealing with much more complex issues, such as childhood diabetes, asthma, allergies and autism.

 

Enrollment at Arizona's three main state universities is projected to increase from 115,000 to 185,000 students by 2020. Under the existing higher education finance system, state and local appropriations to Arizona public universities and community colleges amounted to $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2003 just for operating expenses, which exclude capital and construction funding. Arizona's projected enrollment growth could almost double those appropriations in real terms to an estimated $2.4 billion in 2018. Adding to the strain of Arizona's student enrollment growth is the state constitution's mandate that public postsecondary education in Arizona be as nearly free as possible.

Market-based Reforms Will Make Schools More Efficient and Save Tax Dollars

Enrollment at Arizona public universities is projected to grow by 70,000 students over the next 15 years. To ensure continued access to a college education, some community colleges would like to offer four-year degrees.

The media and the political left often portray conservatives as intellectually backward and anti-scientific. But defenders of the education status quo insist on disregarding evidence-based conclusions when it comes to their pet educational programs. Both all-day kindergarten and early childhood education are "reforms" especially subject to conclusions based on political calculations and anecdotes, rather than empirical proof.

Robert Fulghum's bestseller All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten recounts the life lessons we carry from our early years. So it is with learning the ABCs: All Children Really Need to Know They Can Learn in Kindergarten. No preschool required.

Nevertheless, kids are skipping off to class earlier and earlier. If the average mother in past generations felt pressure to be home with her children, the average mother today feels pressure to send her toddlers to preschool.

Arizona universities are turning to the private sector to replace public funding, following a growing trend across the country.

Although state funding for Arizona's three public universities has increased 49 percent since 1997 -- from $800 million to $1.2 billion in actual dollars -- the percentage of state funds allocated to higher education has steadily decreased over the last 25 years.

PHOENIX-The government spends an estimated $100,000 on a child's education by the time he finishes high school, and instead should deposit those funds directly into family-owned and directed Education Savings Accounts, according to a new report released today by the Goldwater Institute.

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