WORK TOGETHER ON EDUCATION
October 27, 2006
Author: JIM RICE
Estimated printed pages: 2
Recently, the media reported results of a study by Morgan Quitno Press that
ranked the 50 states according to so-called intelligence. The study identified
the "smartest" states, but the headlines quickly changed to "Arizona ranked
dumbest in U.S." Arizonans who read the survey quickly realized it wasn't test
scores that contributed to Arizona ranking 50th, but rather inadequate funding.
The survey measured 21 indicators, few of which related directly to academic
achievement. The indicators included things like school revenue from personal
income, percent of school expenditures used for instruction, teacher salary,
daily attendance and average class size. These factors are controlled purely by
funding, and we know that Arizona is continually at the bottom of the list when
it comes to adequately funding education.
In my opinion, Arizona does an incredible job of educating students, given the
resources that are provided to schools. Our test scores are above the national
average, and we continue to make great strides in improving education despite
the following facts:
* Arizona districts receive $6,010 per student, which is well below the national
average of $7,734, compared with states like Vermont and Connecticut that
receive in excess of $8,000 per student.
* Our class sizes are between 25 to 33 children. Other states average 18 to 20.
Arizona also has one of the highest percentages of English language learners in
the United States.
We tout high expectations for children and teachers, but I encourage Arizona to
have those same high expectations for funding education. Let's quit "dumbing
down" Arizona's education system by not exploiting research studies that have
little to do with academics and start holding our stakeholders accountable for
providing schools with the necessary resources to make differences in children's
lives. There is no other profession that takes a beating like public education,
yet education is the sole foundation for this country's existence and success.
I encourage the media, legislators, citizens and parents to regularly visit
local schools to see the wonderful things happening in public education, to see
how teachers and students analyze data to improve student achievement and to
witness how our teachers are beating the odds and providing a quality education
for Arizona's kids.
Instead of bashing Arizona school districts based on reported survey results,
let's team together for the betterment of our state. We owe it to our future
Dr. Jim Rice is superintendent of the Alhambra Elementary School District in
Phoenix. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Section: Phoenix Community North