As a group, conservatives want to cut funding of public education, in Arizona and around the country. Here are two representative examples of that line of thinking. One is a paper from Matthew Ladner who used to be the Goldwater Institute's education guy and was hugely influential in formulating Arizona education legislation, including our Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, aka Vouchers on steroids. Though he's moved on to Bush's education organization, Foundation for Excellence in Education, his influence here continues. Ladner was one of three people who formed Ducey's education transition team when he became governor.
The other example is John Huppenthal, our Superintendent of Public Instruction before Diane Douglas, in a comment he wrote on one of my posts last week.
In 2015, Ladner created one of the research pieces
he cranks out at regular intervals. He wrote it in his capacity as Senior Advisor for Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, which is one of many well funded "education reform"/privatization groups, and as a Senior Fellow for the libertarian Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, named after its founder and early proponent of vouchers, Milton Friedman.
Ladner's basic thesis is, we need to spend less money on education and get better results. "We cannot sustain the current level of [education] spending," he writes. Instead, we have to create "a virtuous cycle of climbing [educational] outcomes and declining costs." His solution is to funnel more students into charter schools, which he says are cheaper and have better outcomes than school districts, assertions that are questionable at best, and into vouchers for private schools. Our current public schools are the problem, according to Ladner, and "school choice" is the magic pony that will allow us to do more with less.
John Huppenthal would probably be sitting in the Superintendent seat Diane Douglas currently occupies if he wasn't caught as a compulsive blog commenter who made outrageous statements using the aliases Falcon 9 and Thucydides. John is back commenting again but using his own name this time, both here and on Blog for Arizona, where the sharp eyes of blogger Bob Lord made the connection between Huppenthal and the frequent, often manic, often bigoted Falcon 9 and Thucydides comments. I can't say for certain the recent comments on my posts are actually from Huppenthal, but I'm reasonably certain it's him. The mix of rapid-fire data and half-baked conclusions which are his trademark would be hard for anyone else to replicate.
Huppenthal left a comment on my recent minimalistic post, Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 12
(entire text: "Nothing. But. Crickets."). His concluding paragraph begins,
Obviously, education cultural elements which do not work are being reinforced by money. Perhaps defunding and even greater frugality is the route to success.
Now that he's out of office, Huppenthal can say what he never would have uttered out loud when he was Ed Supe. He's speaking for many of our conservative elected officials who believe the same thing but use doublespeak and dog whistles to avoid saying that they want to defund and dismantle our system of public instructions in favor of private schools and privately run charters.
I wrote a long post yesterday saying, basically, that Ducey and other Republican political leaders will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into increasing funding for education. Vocal public support for education and outcries against budget cuts are the reasons we haven't had more education cuts in the last two state budgets, and it's the primary reason Ducey proposed Prop 123 instead of simply ignoring the court ruling that the state replace the money it illegally stole from the schools.