Monday, February 9, 2015

Keep Talking About Education Funding, Daniel Scarpinato

Posted By on Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 1:01 PM

COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK
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Daniel Scarpinato has been a reporter for the Star, worked on Republican campaigns, was Director of Communications for Republicans in the Arizona House and was National Press Secretary for the RNCC. Now he's a spokesman for Governor Ducey. He's either a very talented guy, or no one wants him around for long.

Me, I want Scarpinato around, because he makes such wonderfully loopy, quotable statements. Back when he was working on Jonathan Paton's campaign for U.S. Congress and I was posting on Blog for Arizona, I wrote about his pronouncements so often, I began calling them Scarps, which I defined as "attack dog, logic-challenged rants written by Daniel Scarpinato."

I've been tempted to write about Scarpinato's pronouncements a number of times since he's been Ducey's spokesman but passed on the opportunity. This recent statement, though, is just too good to pass up.

Here's part of what Scarpinato said about Arizona's education funding:
“The governor doesn’t think that’s acceptable, that we should be that far below the national average."
Y'know, Daniel, I agree. The fact that our per student funding is so far below the national average isn't just unacceptable, it's scandalous. Oh wait, that's not what you were talking about? You were talking about the percentage of school funding that goes into the classroom? Let me finish the quote:
“The governor doesn’t think that’s acceptable, that we should be that far below the national average and that little money is getting into the classroom,” Scarpinato said. “What [Ducey’s] Classrooms First Initiative is about and what his budget reflects is getting more money into the classroom.”
Ah, I understand. It's perfectly fine that our per student funding for education is so much lower than almost every other state's, but it's absolutely unacceptable that the percentage going into the classroom is lower. A logical economic analysis would say, when you have fixed costs like transportation, maintenance and other necessary non-classroom services and have to make cuts, you're forced to do your trimming where you can — like, say, the number of teachers you hire. After all, you can always cram a few more desks and students into a classroom and hold onto battered, out-of-date textbooks another few years to save money if there's no other way to trim costs.

Here's the math. If Arizona adds $134 million to the classroom as Ducey recommends, that will mean about $130 more for each student. Arizona spends thousands less per student than most other states, so that $130 boost, at the expense of $125 per student taken out of non-classroom expenditures, barely makes a dent in Arizona's classroom funding deficit.

Daniel, thanks for making the point so eloquently. You and your boss are right. It's completely unacceptable that our funding for education is so far below the national average. And Ducey's funding shuffle won't make a dime's worth of difference.

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