Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Republicans Use Bogus Numbers to Justify Education Cuts

It has come to the attention of the Senate Democrats that Republican Sen. Russell Pearce has concocted his own numbers to justify the recent and anticipated cuts to K-12 and higher education. These numbers are poorly cited and cherry-picked to support the position that Arizona is not actually a lowly 49th in education funding. Recently, many legislators have become virtually obsessed with proving that Arizona isn't actually near the bottom of the United States in funding for K-12 education. This has been a crusade of theirs for years, but the efforts seem to have stepped up considerably as cuts to K-12 education have been considered. We could use a lot of space here throwing a lot of numbers at you to refute Mr. Pearce's numbers, because they are in fact inaccurate. But suffice it to say that Arizona is near the bottom of the nation in per-pupil education funding when you consider a fact that Mr. Pearce does not, and that is that state pays for schools in Arizona (or at least we used to), which is not the case in other states.

The real issue is this: it doesn't matter whether we are 21st or 49th in education funding on a chart. Professional educators are telling us that these cuts are devastating to them. Senate Democrats are not interested in playing the numbers game. What we are interested in doing is listening to educators and parents when they tell us what type of impact the enacted and proposed cuts will have on our schools. Our suspicion is that Mr. Pearce has been receiving plenty of emails from Arizonans in support of education, and he got tired of being told he was wrong.

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