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>

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.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is considered one on the world's best research institutions, ranking alongside Harvard University and Stanford University.

In 1965, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (U-M) received 70 percent of its funding in appropriations from the state of Michigan. By 2003, U-M had reduced its dependence on the state to just 10 percent of total revenue. At the same time, U-M remained a top 25 institution according to the University of Florida's Top American Research Universities and U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings. U-M also tops Wall Street rankings, becoming the first public university to have its credit rating raised to an Aa1 ranking and its bonds trading at Aaa levels. Today, Michigan's flagship university is considered "Silicon Valley East" and has become a model for other large, public research institutions.

There's an interesting phenomenon taking place at a west Phoenix elementary school.

It's called the Pride Program, and it's giving sixth-graders challenging courses in reading, writing and arithmetic.

School administrators are implementing the back-to-basics program to lure students to Cartwright Elementary, which has lost more than 1,200 students to area charter and private schools.

 Martha Garcia, president of the school's governing board, says the school is "offering so much more now than before that we can attract some of those students we lost."

It may be lonely at the top, but when it comes to education funding, Arizona has plenty of company at the bottom. Or so they say. At last count, more than half a dozen states claimed to be 49th in education funding:

"The political reality is that (Florida) lawmakers are cheap and entirely too satisfied with education spending that ranks 49th of the 50 states." St. Petersburg Times editorial, Oct. 15, 2004.

"Illinois ranks 49th in the nation in the proportion of state school funding it provides, caucus officials said." Chicago Tribune, Aug. 13, 2004.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Milton Friedman's landmark proposal for a student-funded education system as it first appeared in the book Economics and the Public Interest. Earlier this month, the Arizona senate put this plan into legislation that could become the nation's first universal voucher program. It would be a fitting tribute.

Unfortunately, a veto is expected.

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