Today’s news that Arizona ranks 49th in education spending is a classic example of asking the wrong question. When you ask the wrong question you get the wrong answer. Stephen Covey, in his famous 7 Habits book, says we should “begin with the end in mind.” What is the “end” or goal of Arizona’s education system? Is the goal simply to see how much money we can spend? Or is it to turn out well-educated students who can compete in the 21st century economy? I think it is the latter. But today’s report is typical — in no way does it even address the issue of educational performance in our state.
If the only measurement is how much money is being spent on education, then Washington D.C.’s schools should be our model. But educational performance in Washington D.C. is awful. Is that what we want? Lots of money spent for no results? Until we begin to focus on doing what it takes to educate students well, we will continue throwing more and more money at the problem without any idea how to actually improve student performance.