Our View: Education funding is the key

The timing was particularly fortuitous.

Tuesday, a speaker at a gathering of Southeast Arizona women Democrats pounded the theme that America needs to catch up in education; and Arizona needs to catch up more than most states. Wednesday, an Arizona Superior Court judge overruled a decision by Secretary of State Ken Bennett to keep a 1 cent sales tax referendum off the Nov. 6 ballot.

Together, the message and the fact that Arizona voters now have a chance of taking charge of the funding for education in this state, represent something close to hope for what can happen in future public school classrooms.

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RobLeach on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 5:47am
Title: Spot on!

SV Herlad you are absolutely correct! Jobs and education go hand in hand. Our
future depends on the decions we make today with regards to education.

Dumb Herb on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 11:56am

Everyone wants better education. Spending more money on a failed system
producing the same unsatisfactory results over and over is not the answer.
Competition and free choice in education is a good start on correcting years
of failed policy. I am not suggesting that charter schools which simply
mirror public schools but are often much worse are the answer. Charter
schools equally fail as they get the same money that public districts do for
the same lousy performance. When the money goes to successful schools and not
the failing ones and parents actually have a choice in the schools their
children attend education will improve dramatically. In the meantime its the
parent that should be looking in the mirror when it comes to child

brian on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 4:09pm

More money is NOT the answer. It’s a red herring that the editors have
obviously bought into. Spending does NOT equal success.

sensei on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 9:47pm

Sierra Vista is losing 15 to 20% of its teachers each year. New teachers can
make $2500 to $9000 more by taking a position in Tucson or Phoenix. With
frozen pay for the last 4 years and no chance of passing an override teachers
see the writing on the wall and are looking for jobs elsewhere. Just like
parents who want the best teachers for their children, teachers want to work
for school districts that believe good teachers deserve competitive pay. The
cost of living is not cheaper in Sierra Vista than Tucson or Phoenix.
Teachers are looking for jobs in districts where overrides have passed. You
can say all you want about taxes, but overall state, local and federal taxes
are lower than they have been in decades. Though Agenbroad has his
shortcomings, cutting his pay by $50,000 is idiotic. He would then be making
far less than superintendents in districts with half as many students. It
would be nice to have school board members that don’t rubber stamp
everything Agenbroad proposes.

sensei on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 10:12pm

Greatschools.org is one of the nationally recognized ways to rank schools
according to a variety of criteria. It is not a perfect system, but it is
relatively effective in predicting academic achievement. If you want to look
at schools in terms of science and math scores when compared with other
nations you need to be ready to look at the whole picture. Poverty level is a
strong indicator of predicting success. South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and
Finland have consistently strong math and science scores. American students
from families above the poverty level do as well or better than these
nations, but the U.S. has about 23% of its student population coming from
families below the poverty level. Everyone knows that the level of poverty
doesn’t always mean poor people will not do well in school and rich ones will
always succeed, but it is also clear that poverty has a strong influence in
determining the likelihood of a student succeeding.

sensei on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 11:37pm

Is the U.S. education system is as bad as some believe? It is true that the
U.S. spends more on public education than many other countries like,Finland,
South Korea, Singapore,and Japan. If the U.S. spends more why doesn’t it do
better on math and science scores when compared to other nations? Here are
the reasons I feel the U.S. compares favorably with other nation’s education
systems: 1st, the U.S. spends a great deal more on special needs students
than the Asian nations, (I don’t know yet about Finland). It is common in
these particular Asian cultures to spend as much as 10-20% of the family
income on private tutoring that lasts for several hours every day after
school. 2nd, if S Korea and Japan have large classes,but do better in
comparative math and science tests, ignoring the cultural reliance on private
tutors skews the validity of thinking class size doesn’t matter and in
believing that we are not using our education dollars as effectively.

sensei on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 11:54pm

Special needs students do not receive the same level of funding and education
in Japan and S Korea. The percentage of students with special needs is much
lower in places like Korea and Japan. Why do these Asian nations have a much
lower percentage of special needs students? Does the U.S. define too many
kids as special needs students? (That is a separate topic for discussion.) Do
these East Asian nations really reach out to provide services to special
needs students? Wouldn’t it make some sense to research questions like this
rather than just assume the U.S. education system is failing? Again, special
education funding is a significant part of the U.S. school budget. Helping
special needs students get the most help we can provide is one of the best
aspects of American education. Should we spend far less on special needs
students so we can be more like some of the nations with better math and
science scores?

sensei on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 12:14am

Finland, Japan, and S Korea have strong national teacher unions. Gov Romney
wants to blame unions for what he sees as a failing education system. There
is no evidence to show that the absence of teacher unions has made any
nations stronger than the U.S. in science and math test scores. The evidence
supports the idea that strong teacher unions have a positive effect on
learning. The Education systems in Japan, Hong Kong, S Korea and Finland are
more selective in screening teacher applicants, but then they pay
considerably more too. We can listen to people talk all day about schools in
Washington,DC, Chicago, or Detroit and argue that throwing money at education
won’t improve learning. Poverty rate, single-parent families, bureaucratic
school systems, high unemployment areas all have an impact on why these inner
city schools are not doing well. How about the schools in high socioeconomic
neighborhoods routinely having better test scores in Arizona than those in
low-income areas?

brian on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 10:55am

try comparing apples to apples. our society is less focused on education and
lacks similar discipline of the Asian countries. We’re more focused on
leisure and entertainment than business or acadmeics.

sensei on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 9:48pm

Give me an example of apples to apples. Do you know anything about how
teachers are selected in Finland? Do you know what they are paid? Do you know
that they don’t feel it is effective to frequently test students because they
think it is more important to focus on how to teach instead of how often to
test? When you compare tax dollars spent on public education, do you think
the percentage of income spent on night schools in S Korea that offer private
tutoring is money that should be considered when comparing the cost of
education? What apples to apples comparison are you making? Is poverty
irrelevant in predicting education outcomes? Does class size matter? Can you
offer a solution or do you just like to comment on as many news articles as
possible without knowing what you are talking about?

Sumtingwong on Sat, 07/21/2012 - 8:06am

sensi knocks Brian for his comments, but keeps on arguing with herself,
asking dumb questions.

Cassandra on Sat, 07/21/2012 - 10:32am

Sensei’s queries don’t strike me as dumb questions; though I suppose they could seem so if read by a dumb person. I wouldn’t know about that.

However, I believe that Brian has touched upon a valid point insofar as our schools, and their shortcomings, reflect the shortcomings of our society. When school becomes a 30 hour/week island in a sea of ignorance and aggressive anti-intellectualism, how can we expect the seeds of inquiry to find purchase?

sensei on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 9:52pm

Is your 30 hours per week comment about teacher work hours or is it about the
number of hours students are in school? I think you know better than to
believe that teachers work only 30 hours a week, so I can only guess you are
talking about the number of hours American students are in school in a year.
I don’t mind extending the school year. I find it humorous that some people
believe teachers are the reason students are only in school for approximately
180 days a year. Personally, I am all for extending the academic year by 30+
more days, but I would also expect more pay for either longer school days or
more school days. It is not the teachers’ unions who are fighting the idea of
extending the school year. If Americans want a longer school year, are they
willing to pay for the increase in working hours and/or days? I haven’t seen
any sign that voters are willing to raise their taxes to pay for the added
time children are being taught in school.

sensei on Tue, 07/24/2012 - 6:14am

Much of your rationale: “red herring”, “apples to apples” still comes down to
short, worn out phrases. The depth of your reasoning is too short to go on a
bumper sticker.

brian on Tue, 07/24/2012 - 4:46pm
Title: lol

and yet here you are still fretting over my simpleton comments. If you’re
going to compare education fundung between countries, pick one that values
leisure and pleasure activities as THE goals in life like we do. Still
waiting for the $ = Success in Education stats. Last I checked NY spent more
than AZ and yet were pretty much middle of the pack.

Cassandra on Tue, 07/24/2012 - 7:26pm

I was speaking to the student’s experience. I recognize that teachers no more work 30 hour weeks than a jerk like John Stossel works a 1 hour week. However, from the student’s perspective, 30 hours of intellectual rigor, no matter how expertly managed and delivered, does little to supplant or even contextualize the remaining 138 hours of Kardashian antics, parental absenteeism and predigested news pap. 30 hours is, of course, wildly optimistic given the unfettered access to banality each kid carries in his smart phone today.

Finns, as I understand, borrow more library books per capita than any other population on the planet. Quite simply, they value education more than we do and they manifest those values by paying more for them. In America, we remain content to ride a slouching idiocracy into a new plantation state.

Myron Jaworsky on Tue, 07/24/2012 - 7:33pm

The notion that the US “values leisure and pleasure as THE goals in life” is
a half truth. The culture here values consumption as the superordinate goal
in life and is taken to be the surrogate for leisure and pleasure.
Unfortunately, consumption requires work and more work, which allows for less
and less time for leisure and pleasure. Only a person without knowledge of
life as led in other developed (and underdeveloped) countries could agree
with *brian*. As for NY v. AZ education expenses: (1) AZ students are
significantly below the middle of the pack. And (2) simpleminded
dollar-for-dollar comparisons need to be adjusted for cost-of-living factors.
I’m told that entering salaries in the SV school system is about $28,000.
That amount of money would not even buy a custodian services in NY.
Incidentally, what makes *brian* such an expert on education?