Mainstream media loves to disparage Arizona’s kindergarten through 12th grade education system. State rankings are often the source of this disparagement, invariably ranking Arizona 47th, 48th, or 49th.
Over the past year, U.S. News and World Reportranked New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut as the top education states in the nation, first through third, respectively. Next, WalletHubranked these same three states as the top three states in the nation. Then, along comes an organization called Scholaroo also ranking Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut as the top three K-12 education states in the nation.
They all agree on the three states with the top rankings, but where do they rank Arizona? They rank Arizona respectively, 47th, 48th, and 50th. That would seem pretty definitive.
But do these three states really have better schools than Arizona? Both U.S. News and WalletHub seem to think so . But is their ranking based on science? Are they correct? Are they completely out of whack? Let’s check their analysis.
The U.S. Department of Education performs the National Assessment of Educational Progress, spending over $100 million per year to measure the performance of the U.S. K-12 system. The National Assessment is based on a random sample of over 3,000 students in each state. This sample is pulled once every two years.
U.S. News, WalletHub, and Scholaroo each make a fundamental error in the way they compare states. Because Connecticut is 75% White and 42% college educated, they are comparing the test results of a White student with college educated parents with a minority student from Arizona with immigrant parents. That’s not science. That’s a joke.
Here are is the data for 8th grade math scores of Blacks and Hispanics for Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Arizona:
8th Grade Math Scores
Arizona 8th grade math scores for Blacks and Hispanics (42% of our K-12 student population) are equal to or greater than all these states considered top three states by WalletHub and U.S. News.
In other words, if test scores are your measure, Arizona’s schools are among the very best in the country in educating Blacks and Hispanics.
These are media companies. It’s not unusual to find them to be short on scientific standing. When you dig in to find out why the media companies get it so wrong, you find that the source of their error is that they are comparing a low-income Hispanic Arizona student with a high-income east coast White student and pretending that you can make a conclusion from that comparison about the quality of schools. No reputable researcher believes that. Each state has a different percentage of Hispanic, Black, and White students.
We can expand this 8th grade math comparison to all 50 states. When we do, we find that Arizona Blacks rank 3rd, only a point away from first. Only two other states have 8th grade test scores for Blacks higher than Arizona. Arizona Asians rank 5th, Arizona Hispanics rank 14th, and Arizona Whites rank 6th.
Race is only one factor you can adjust for. Several years ago, the Urban Institute did a more comprehensive regression analysis which also took into account parent’s education and family income as well as race. In that ranking, Arizona ranked 13th in the nation. Even that analysis is suspect. Arizona ranks 4th in the nation in the percentage of foreign-born Hispanics. The Urban Institute’s analysis did not separate foreign-born and native-born Hispanics and as a result, ranked Arizona lower than it might otherwise have been.
We know that Arizona schools, strengthened by the nation’s most competitive school environment for 30 years, rank much higher than the mainstream media would let us know. And perhaps higher than the leftist think-tanks want to admit.
If you have been listening to the left and their friends in the media over the last several years, you might be under the impression that conservatives in the legislature have chronically underfunded K-12 education. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, and the truly historic levels of education funding actually threatens their soak the rich tax hike (Prop 208).
The reason we know K-12 is funded at historic levels is because there is a constitutional expenditure limit. Next year, we’re on track to blast above it. By billions.
Their pivot has been to attack the expenditure limit, as opposed to acknowledging how much the state is spending. But taxpayers should be thankful for this constitutional protection. It isn’t outdated, and it isn’t holding our schools back.
Earlier this month the Arizona Supreme Court agreed with a lower court’s ruling that parts of 4 of the 11 budget bills signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey this summer are unconstitutional on procedural grounds. The reaction from business owners and community leaders was swift, with many left wondering when and how lawmakers will address the dozens of provisions dropped from those budget bills.
Among those provisions was a prohibition on a county, city, or town from issuing COVID-19 ordinances that impact private businesses, schools, churches, or other private entities, including mask mandates. Other prohibitions would have kept K-12 schools from requiring vaccines with an emergency use authorization for in-person attendance and ensured public universities and community colleges could not mandate COVID vaccines and vaccine passports.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) describes the Justices’ recent opinion as “devastating” and “a big blow to the people of Arizona.” The organization has drawn attention to the uncertainty and frustration across Arizona at a time when the pandemic impacts are still being felt in the state’s economy, and as individual freedoms are under attack.
As a result, the AFEC is leading the call for the Arizona Legislature and the Governor to immediately address the critical reforms that the Supreme Court struck down.
“They must exhaust every option possible, including special session, to protect Arizonans from more COVID mandates and the bigoted teachings of Critical Race Theory,” according to AFEC. “But make no mistake, while this ruling is devastating, it will not stop the battle over these critical issues. There’s just too much at stake. Because if the uncertainty and frustration caused by these issues are allowed to continue, it would be the most devastating news of all.”
Parents of Arizona’s K-12 students are praising and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman is slamming Governor Doug Ducey for rescinding orders that direct K-12 schools to require masks.
The Governor’s Office noted that with teachers having been vaccinated early on, the decision to require students to wear masks at schools are up to school leaders.
The governor’s action masking edict continues to provide K-12 school districts and charter schools the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks.
The governor’s action aligns with CDC guidance and rescinds a section of Executive Order 2020-51, issued by the Governor in July directing schools to require face masks and Emergency Measure 2020-04, issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) outlining requirements for mask usage in schools.
Superintendent Hoffman, in her statement, released Monday, that the governor’s decision was “abrupt” and “destabilizes school
Hoffman “encouraged school leaders and board members to work with their communities to make transparent evidence-based decisions to
build trust and the safety of our schools.”
Parents say they are doing just that and are now organizing to change policies on the school level. They say they will begin contacting school officials requesting the end-of-mask mandates on school sites as soon as possible.