Mike McClellan’s whining ("East Valley Voters Made Their Education Bed") about the defeat of various education funding measures conveniently forgot to mention that the largest measure, Mesa’s $230 bond request, passed. He also seems unaware that most public school teachers earn far more than most private school teachers, especially in the benefits area. Finally, despite inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending nearly tripling in Arizona since the early 1970s, we have very little if anything to show for it in terms of improved pupil achievement.
Arizona educators have deliberately made tracking pupil achievement trends difficult via repeatedly changing tests and lobbying against effective accountability measures.
However, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, "The performance of (national) 17-year-olds on the 2008 reading and mathematics (latest available) assessments was not measurably different from their performance in the early 1970s." Further, a recent Harvard- sponsored study reported that Arizona ranked 31st out of 41 states in the annual rate of growth in student achievement in math, reading, and science for the period 1992-2011. Thus, there is no basis to claim that the enormous increases in Arizona education funding over past decades have helped pupil outcomes.
The ‘good news,’ Mr. McClellan, is that Arizonan voters are realizing it’s time to stop wasting more money and instead demand improvements. A good way to start would be utilizing promising innovations such as Kahn Academy’s Internet teaching tools — demonstrated to be more effective and potentially far less costly.
Former Chief Deputy, Maricopa County School Superintendent’s Office