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home : opinion : opinion May 26, 2016

2/17/2013 6:00:00 AM
Editorial Column: Money not for that education

Rich Thurlow

If the sole purpose of being part of the Legislature is to have all the bills you propose pass, then Dr. Kelli Ward is a failure.

Ward is our new state senator, winning the seat after Ron Gould was pushed out by term limits. And, yes, it's too bad Gould didn't get elected to the U.S. House, but we learned a lot about the man who did win based on his campaign against Gould.

Back to Ward. The freshman senator sponsored a bill that required a handbook be mailed to parents of school-age children. The handbook would include information about education choices other than public schools, and the $1.5 million annual cost would be paid with Title I education money.

The funding source led to the apparent downfall of the bill, which was still in committee. Arizona Education Association President Andrew Morrill said the bill's Title I funding was off limits because it was already earmarked for underperforming schools.

As such, Morrill said using the money for the handbooks could be illegal. In the AP story, Morrill also questioned the ethics of using the funds "that are supposed to go to improve students" and instead using the money "to expand the marketplace of what are essentially for-profit entities?"

I didn't hear Morrill's "for-profit" comment, but it probably doesn't rank up their with Sen. Harry Reid's snarl directed at health insurance companies, though I suspect many of us will be wishing for those days when we got superior health care thanks to "for-profit" insurance companies - and at less than half the price, and half the hassles, of ObamaCare.

But what intrigued me was the thought of actually having "for-profit" schools, or public schools modeled after a for-profit business.

One of the clear advantages of such an arrangement is the certain end of the argument I've never understood - "teaching for the test." In my for-profit school, Little Robert may or may not have self-esteem issues, but you can bet he and every other capable student is going to know the multiplication tables through 8 X 12 by Halloween so teacher can collect that $960 bonus. The bonus is a cool $1,080 if the students can get through the tables up to 9 X 12.

Kingman Unified School District officials have openly discussed marketing their product, a smart move considering KUSD loses dollars every time another student enrolls at one of the Kingman Academy schools. KUSD also suffers financially when children go to private schools or are home-schooled.

But KUSD's ability to cope with a shrinking budget, as has been the case in recent years, should be secondary to a larger issue - thousands of well-paying jobs are not being filled now because the workforce isn't smart enough. The days when three or four really smart kids in a class - kids who could handle tough college courses no matter where they went to school before - isn't enough.

The U.S. needs to produce two or three more really smart kids per class just to keep up. And if that gets done by planting an idea in a parent's head that maybe there's something better out there for junior - an idea nurtured by Ward's education choices handbook - well, maybe that's a good place to start.

Ward's good idea is on hold for the moment and her perfect record for introducing legislation is at risk. You can't win them all in the Arizona Legislature, and Ward has found you can't even win the ones that you should.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

We hope Ms. Ward is not just a better educated Ron Gould. Our hope is that our legislators concentrate more on what is better for the people and future of Mohave County, and not what is good for ALEC, their mouth piece the Goldwater Institute, and the privatize every service crowd, especially education. The evidence shows, but is surpressed, that this privatization fetish does not save money or get better results, but it does line the pockets of ALEC companies. We have evidence in the private prison situation also, where is your reporting on that issue locally?

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“…then Dr. Kelli Ward is a failure.”

Many of us knew that a LONG time ago.

“And, yes, it's too bad Gould didn't get elected to the U.S. House,…”

No, that was a good thing. We don’t need any birther bills clogging up the House of Representatives.

“… and her perfect record for introducing legislation is at risk.”

You mean like the totally stupid bill that would have forced Arizona to ignore Federal Laws? Ward is just another grandstander without a clue.

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

Rich, I absolutely agree with you and invite you to my presentation Wednesday night at 5:30 in the Mt Tipton Gym where I will unveil my plan to improve school choice and our children's education within the public school system. My plan saves the same amount of money as the district administration's plan, and potentially raises revenue as well, if implemented fully, does not close any schools, and will be competitive with private and charter schools.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Loco Pete

And of course if government is actually working, it is defunded to bring it into line.
I haven't noticed any change or extra paperwork with "ObamaCare". Please explain or is it merely wishful thinking.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Typcial Mohave County

@ The Fox Hound.
Unfortunately she represents Mohave County, which means she will have a job for life. As you said the population is changing and the demographics are changing. Everybody is waking up to just how dysfunctional and out of touch with reality the Republican Party. Everybody but Mohave County who feels if your not part of the Republican Party than you’re a socialist and you want to destroy America. In 2016, Arizona will be a battle ground state and by 2020 this state will be solid Blue except for Mohave County, who will be solid red and will have the same reputation as the militia men in Montana.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Uncle Anson

Dunning down of America because we ignore science such as climate change and evolution? Trained in what? Obviously not science. For if you were, you would know the difference between hypothesis, theory and fact, which it appears that you do not. Science of evolution? It is THEORY. Look up the definition. Climate change? Why just a few years ago it was Green House effect. Get my point? America has not dumbed down as a result of not mixing theory with fact. It has done so because too many are led through lack of knowledge or personal believe to ascribe to theory because they prefer it. They cannot prove it. Have a nice day.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Yaaa Kelli, She's Our Gal She'll Represent Us Well

Unbelievable, I knew if Kelli was elected, we'd be screwed when I was taking my morning walk a few weeks before election day and was offered a brochure from the back of a van that had her election poster on it. (I guess that's how you win elections here - an old van and the Republican banner. I accepted the brochure and read where a vote for Kelli was as vote against abortion, gun control, and the American way (I added the American way - just sounded snappy). But I did read enough about her right wing views to know she didn't need to waste her printing costs on me so I turned around and returned the brochure from the lady who seemed stunned that anyone would be voting against Kelli. Gee, you know we have a real winner representing us when Thurlow is critical.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: High School Teacher

@Rick: perhaps some schools have replaced history with social studies, but none that I have worked at, including Kingman, and schools in Michigan and North Carolina.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: R H

The PARENTS need to step up and bear more of the cost for their children's education. You cannot simply plop out kid after kid and get a buffet of educational services (not to mention other public assistance programs) thrown at you and expect a quality result.
PARENTS: DEMAND that local governments offer the portion of your tax assessment due for public education to ANY entity willing to compete. This means vouchers for ANY school , religious in nature or not. This SHOULD mean home schooling too. Supporting an end to gross moneywasting monstrosities like the federal department of education would help too. We produced many many intelligent people long before that bureaucracy was ever dreamed up.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Butch Meriwether

The only thing I can say Rich is if it inspired some families to choose a different educaitonal system and their kids actually learned something, then the $1.5 million spent would be a good investment.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Trained Observer

@The U.S. needs to produce two or three more really smart kids per class just to keep up.

As long as we keep ignoring math and science such as climate change and evolution, we will continue with the dumming down of America. Yep, just keep home schoolin' those kids and promoting religious doctrines.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

Ms Ward is just more of the same. If it were up to her all schools would be private. Ms Ward ran on the premise that govt can't do anything right so it is her role like most Republicans in this state to just shut it down. I wonder how long she will keep her job with that attitude and the changing population here in our state.

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

"thousands of well-paying jobs are not being filled now because the workforce isn't smart enough"

This has been going on for decades now, is this new to you? This is what happens when the school curriculum changes e.g. history replaced with social studies and sports becomes more important to parents than math, reading and writing. Another problem is that schools either don't want to expel a student because they wouldn't get the federal money for the expelled child and are afraid of being sued. Yes, America is no longer No. 1 in freedom (No. 10 and falling) and no longer the leader in education, Russia actually has more college grads than the U.S., America is becoming a third world country filled with nothing more than people that want everything provided for free.

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