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.
PHOENIX-In a policy brief released today by the Goldwater Institute, Children First America vice president Matthew Ladner identifies 40 Arizona school districts and charter schools with unusually high Hispanic special education rates. "This is further evidence of a disturbing pattern," Ladner says. "Nationwide, schools are mislabeling minority children as disabled and wrongly assigning them to special education programs."
Like America's horse of the moment, Seabiscuit, Arizona's students may be underdogs, but they are not underachievers. In recently released Stanford 9 results, students surpassed national averages. Even students who have yet to cross the finish line are still very much in the race. And much credit is due to involved parents, committed principals, and dedicated teachers for encouraging children to perform.
Call it the Sleeping Beauty Syndrome: a lonely schoolgirl raised on Disney movies dreams of a knight in shining armor who will enter her life in a dashing whirl and save her from boredom, poverty and solitude. For schoolgirls, it's a harmless fantasy. But when Arizona policymakers begin dreaming that a knight in biotech armor will save the state economy, the fantasy may be very costly.
When I saw House Speaker Jake Flake at a barbeque the other day, I asked him why he was supporting the Legislature's bid to spend $800 million on research labs at Arizona universities. He told me what any rancher knows: to get growth, you have to put a bull in the pen with the cows.
The editors of The Business Journal let readers down with their editorial "Naysayers won't help cause" (4/25/03), which condemned a forthcoming Goldwater Institute study they had neither seen, nor read. At best, commenting on unseen research is unprofessional. At worst, it is an abuse of public trust. Readers of The Journal should be able to expect, at a minimum, that the editors have earnestly reviewed the material under discussion.
At a time when every dollar counts, appropriation decisions must be based on fact, not fiction-no matter how noble the fiction. Arizona's taxpayers subsidize the estimated 6.8 percent of residents enrolled in the state's two-year and four-year colleges and universities. Taxpayers also subsidize the one-third of enrollees who are nonresidents. What is the return on this investment?
In 1975, Congress passed what is now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Since then, the number of students in special-education programs nationwide has grown 65 percent, to more than 6 million.
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), designed to prevent the neglect and segregation of special education students, has resulted in the neglect and segregation of even larger student populations of minorities nationwide, including Arizona. The culprit: Perverse financial incentives to classify children as "learning disabled" when in fact they are "learning deficient," meaning they require remedial reading instruction, not special education programs.
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Minority students are more likely to be labeled learning-disabled in predominantly Anglo Arizona school districts than in racially diverse districts, a study released today says.
But Tucson school districts appear to buck the trend, with their percentage of minority special-education students accurately reflecting districts' overall racial makeup.
Victor Hugo once said, "He who opens a school door closes a prison." But according to the 2001 report by the Governor's Task Force on Efficiency and Accountability in K-12 Education, "Student achievement in Arizona is unacceptable by any measure?.The system is characterized by mediocrity and commitment to the status quo."