(Phoenix, AZ) – Arizona Coalitions Director for The LIBRE Institute, Carlos Alfaro, wrote an op-ed which is featured in the Prescott Daily Courier, on how Arizona’s school choice reforms provide families with greater educational opportunity and choice:
“Putting kids first pays off for Arizona”
Read online here
When I was in elementary school, my family immigrated from Mexico to Phoenix. My brother and I spoke no English when we arrived, so in school, we worked hard to learn the language at the same time as all the other material. I was a curious, inquisitive kid but sitting behind a desk and being taught instead of actively learning was torture for me. I was bored out of my mind, got in trouble a lot, and quite frankly, I hated it.
For kids like me, the national statistics are sobering. On the latest NAEP assessment for math, Hispanic fourth-graders had an average score that was 22 points lower than that for white students. On the NAEP reading assessment, Hispanic fourth-graders had an average score that was 25 points lower than that for their White peers. And in 2015 Latinos in Arizona had one of the highest dropout rates of all ethnic and racial groups.
But in Arizona, several years ago, lawmakers started to put kids first. They grounded their policies in the knowledge that every child learns differently, and governed with the belief that all students and their families should have the freedom to choose a quality education that meets their learning needs and encourages their unique “talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich,” as Thomas Jefferson put it.
Arizona now boasts five of the top 10 high schools in the nation. And Arizona students led the country in academic gains for math, reading, and science between 2009 and 2015. What’s more, these achievements occurred at a time of decreased funding during the great recession.
Greater educational freedom is improving lives throughout our state, especially for low and middle-income families. It also saves taxpayers money, which will become ever more critical as Arizona’s student population grows and the working-age population shrinks in proportion over the next several decades. Thanks to the educational reforms we’ve made, our state is set up for future financial success.