David Safier writes frequently about politics and education in Arizona.
In this post, he shows how Governor Doug Ducey’s education plan is moving step by step to create a three-tier system of schools, thus abandoning the Supreme Court’s mandate to provide equal educational opportunity.
Are you outraged at Governor Ducey’s “education budget”? You should be. After Prop. 123 passed, he promised some “next steps” were coming soon, but all we got is an insulting 25-cents-an-hour raise for teachers and a little money sprinkled over a few high-profile programs to make it look like he’s doing something. Watching Ducey quacking and smiling as he dubs himself the “education governor” is infuriating. But push aside your anger over those outrages for a moment. Something far more important happened in the Legislature this year, something which could change the nature of Arizona education irrevocably. It’s the one-two-three punch of vouchers for everyone, results-based funding and lowering of teacher certification requirements. Over time, those changes will lead to an increasingly stratified education system, with more money flowing to education for children of higher income families and less going to everyone else.
If Ducey and the conservative majority in the legislature could speak freely, if they knew the voters couldn’t hear what they were saying, their vision for Arizona’s education would sound something like this.
“We should have a three tiered education system,” they’d say. “The top tier has to be the best schools money can buy to supply us with our future movers, shakers and innovators—our captains of industry and the geniuses who help them create better, more profitable products and services. The next tier should be good, but not overly expensive schools to teach children who will become our educated professionals—our doctors, lawyers, middle managers and such. Give those kids a K-12 education that’s good enough to get them into colleges where they can obtain the career training they need. As for the rest, they really don’t need much of an education to perform the tasks expected of them. Their schools should teach them to read, write and do math at a sixth grade level. That’s more than enough from them to wash our floors, change our oil and ask, ‘Do you want fries with that?’”
We’re closer to a codified version of this three-tiered educational scheme than we’ve ever been, thanks to the work of Ducey and his legislative majority.
At the top of the educational hierarchy are the most expensive private schools. Courtesy of the new vouchers-for-all law, taxpayers will be giving the wealthiest Arizonans $4,500 or more to help them pay for their children’s tuition. Call it financial aid for the rich. Even with vouchers, the rest of us won’t be able to afford those schools—they start at $10,000 a year—so the rich don’t have to worry about the riffraff showing up.
What? You don’t think the public should subsidize tuition at private schools for rich kids? That’s old thinking.
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