Student's lawsuit an insult
Arizona Republic
May. 24, 2006

Craig J. Cantoni

It costs taxpayers about $105,000 to educate one child for 12 years in the Scottsdale Unified School District. If the student is an English learner, it costs about $4,000 more.

If the student's parents can't make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich - as I did for my kid for eight years while he attended parochial school - it costs $1.63 per lunch for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's free lunch program, which is one of the most abused federal programs. advertisement And if the student is lazy and does poorly in school, taxpayers foot the bill for 90 hours of state-funded tutoring to help the student pass the AIMS test. It could easily cost $3,000 for that amount of tutoring with a private firm.

These costs don't include the whopping cost for a myriad of public assistance programs for children of low-income parents, including parents who hide their income from the government or feign a disability. Such costs can easily exceed $100,000 over 12 years.

This isn't enough spending for Hannah Gonzales. A student at Coronado High School, she failed the AIMS test and is suing the state for not spending enough money on her education.

If Arizona were a fair and just state, Gonzales and her parents would be sued by taxpayers who subsidize her education, especially by childless taxpayers and taxpayers who send their kids to private school. They contribute $190,000, on average, over their lifetime in public education taxes to the likes of Gonzales. Yet, she has the audacity to slap them in the face by doing poorly in school and suing for more money.

The following ethics question should be added to the AIMS test: Without resorting to platitudes and pedantry about the public good, write a paragraph that gives a moral justification for you and your parents taking money from strangers for your education.

Admittedly, the question would be somewhat unfair, because government schools and government teachers don't teach students that there are viable alternatives to compulsory education being delivered by government schools and teachers. Nor do they teach students to question the fairness of the government taking money from some people and giving it to other people.

As a result, we end up with people like Gonzales - people who feel wronged, although they're the ones doing wrong. Gonzales shouldn't be allowed to graduate until she learns right from wrong.

An author and consultant, Craig J. Cantoni can be reached at