The goal of any educational system is to educate children well. But news coverage like this Arizona Republic story tends to emphasize issues that may or may not have anything to do with student performance.
In this case, the article mainly emphasizes teacher pay compared to other states and reveals that Arizona is lagging, scoring a “D+.” There is also discussion of per pupil spending, where we finish with a “D”.
Interestingly, the fact that our student performance only merits a “D” is given less emphasis. It seems to me that student performance should be the headline.
Many factors contribute to a quality public school education and they may or may not be related to teacher pay and per pupil spending. We are all aware of public schools with lower average teacher pay and less per pupil spending that outperform wealthier schools.
Other economic factors in our free market affect compensation generally, including teacher pay. A New York City teacher may make 50 percent more, but pay it back in higher housing and transportation costs. Less pay in Arizona — where we bask in warm, sunny weather in January — may still provide a better quality of life than that for a better paid teacher in an Eastern city.
Any way you slice it, five years into the Napolitano administration our public school system is still struggling to educate children well. Our best teachers should be financially rewarded, a concept that has been opposed by unions and political leaders in our state. Until we begin to reward excellent teachers with excellent pay, and focus more on actual student performance than on per pupil spending, we are likely to continue to struggle.


  1. Unfortunately, Janet Napolitano’s legacy with regards to education seems to consist of nothing more than making sure kindergartners are in school for 8 hours instead of 4 and giving away “free” (i.e. paid for by the taxpayers) books to all first graders in Arizona.

  2. Len,
    I enjoy the quality of life here generally – sunshine and all. I just can’t cash a sunny day into groceries at Safeway.
    I do agree that fixing the education system is a must.
    What is your take on re-districting?


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