That being said, this will not be the entirety of my Education position. I have several more points of emphasis that I will release after getting feedback for each.
Here we go:
Increasing Education Expenditure by Understanding and Controlling Capital Spending.
Several studies have shown that we can expect exponential growth in Arizona over the next 20 years. Building the infrastructure required to sustain this growth is likely to further strain education funding during this period and going forward. Careful planning and proper policy, however, can help preserve at least a portion of the funding that would otherwise be claimed by capital and return it to operations and the actual teaching of our students. Some specific things that can be done:
1. Reaffirm and expand Arizona’s commitment to open enrollment and home schooling. So far, the charter school program has been a tremendous success and has slightly to moderately slowed the need for infrastructure growth as the facilities for charter schools are privately funded. An upswing in home schooling, while providing Arizona families more choices in the education of their children, has also relieved some of the infrastructure burden that would have occurred otherwise. If families wish to participate in a charter school or home schooling, then the barriers should be further reduced where practicable.
2. Maximizing use and maintenance of existing structures. It is important that older buildings be maintained and updated in such a manner as to keep them operable for extended periods of time. Schools that may be losing enrollment due to their location in areas where demographics are skewing toward older families without school aged children should be moved toward utility as “magnet” schools which are more likely to attract students based on specialized curriculum rather than proximity. Studies should be done to determine the feasability as well as the effectiveness of moving some schooling systems to year-round operation.
3. We should resist, at all cost, to succumb to the suddenly popular urge to finance new school infrastructure to hide budget deficits. Not only is it wrong to essentially tax our children to hide our poor spending decisions in other areas, but the convenience of resorting to credit in government spending, as in personal spending, often obscures the need to make hard choices. It is the duty of the state leadership to face and make difficult decisions as they spring up and not kick these problems down the road for future leaders, especially when it comes to education.