Arizona’s legislators have certainly made education reform a top priority at the Capitol. Unfortunately, their “fixes” do more harm than good.
Let’s start with Senator Ron Gould’s guns on campus bill. Here’s a classic example of a legislator determined to fix something that isn’t broken.
I speak about this bill in detail in an earlier article, but I find it ironic that Mr. Gould, a legislator known for strengthening and enforcing immigration laws, seems to turn the other way when it comes to gun laws.
Here in Arizona felons have no trouble locating and possessing prohibited firearms. Perhaps that’s why the majority of all police officers murdered in the line of duty in Maricopa County, my husband included, have been shot by prohibited possessors. Where’s the push to fix this problem?
But parents and university officials can take comfort in Mr. Gould’s bill by knowing that many students and professors will never have to fear an armed gunman on campus because many students will no longer be attending Arizona’s universities. Representative John Kavanagh has made it more difficult for students, particularly low-income students, to attend college with his minimum tuition bill.
This bill will ensure that if a student works hard in school, gets good grades and earns an academic scholarship, he/she will most likely be out of luck and unable to use the scholarship to pay for the cost of tuition.
Mr. Kavanagh’s bill only allows a lucky five percent of students to use academic scholarships to cover the minimum tuition cost. However, if your child is an athlete, something that’s apparently more important than academics, he/she can waive the tuition minimum with an athletic scholarship instead.
And if the student comes from a disadvantaged background and is offered Pell grants to cover this cost? Out of luck again, as poor students, even those with good grades, are denied the ability to use Pell grants or any other University-backed aid to cover the $2,000 tuition bill.
Apparently Arizona, a state already near the bottom in terms of college graduates, needs educational reforms that make it more difficult to get a degree and more difficult for low-income individuals to realize the American dream.
Never fear, State Senator Lori Klein knows just where state legislators need to focus their attention – on teacher language. Klein introduced legislation that will hold teachers accountable if they speak in any manner deemed offensive by FCC standards.
Of course local districts already have rules in place to address teacher conduct, but why not create more government and more regulations for a problem that again, doesn’t seem to exist. Apparently this is a much better use of taxpayer dollars than say, mentoring new teachers or rewarding excellent teachers.
But the most puzzling waste of legislation comes from Senator Rich Crandall, someone I generally agree with and would give high marks for his efforts on real educational reforms. Mr. Crandall introduced legislation that allows schools to opt out of federal lunch programs without requiring the schools to provide some sort of backup free lunch program.
The bill was a response to new nutritional guidelines set by the Department of Agriculture that would ensure healthier school lunches. The healthier meals will be more expensive for the schools, but instead of ensuring students eat better, Mr. Crandall made it easier for schools to opt out and continue down a path of unhealthy eating.
Many parents, pediatricians, and nutritionists have been advocating for healthier school meals for years. Unfortunately, state legislators such as Mr. Crandall fail to see the advantages of healthy meals and would rather allow schools to skip the new requirements instead of allowing them extra funds to cover things such as fresh fruit and veggies.
If this is what Arizona’s legislators view as positive educational reforms, then we’re in big trouble. Real reforms should take precedence over the pet projects of special interest groups whose priorities are clearly not in line with Arizona voters.
Azcvoices.com is a network of community bloggers created by The Arizona Republic, azcentral.com and 12 News to highlight diverse viewpoints. Members' opinions do not represent the views of Republic Media.
Bio: The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head.
The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles.
As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story.
When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent.
And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.