On the Breach
Lisa Davis' "The High Cost of Education Reform" (Breach of Contract, December 28) assumes that pupils are damaged by limiting the increases in Arizona education spending. In reality, there is no relationship between expenditures and results. For example, a 1989 study I conducted for Richard L. Harris, former Maricopa County school superintendent, found that inflation-adjusted per-pupil maintenance and operating expenditures in Arizona increased 24percent from 1980-81 through 1988-89. What did we get for the $1.4 billion increase? A slight increase in dropout rates, and no overall improvement in pupil achievement scores. A second study found that about 75percent of the variation in Arizona pupil achievement was attributable to parent and pupil factors.

Arizona's public schools have, for years, spent far more per pupil than most private schools. Educational reform and greater parental support are required. Our public schools need competitive incentives to improve performance and lower costs, not bailouts that excuse fiscal irresponsibility.

Loyd Eskildson

After reading Terry Greene's article "Quit Polluting Our Aquifers. Please. Pretty Please" (Breach of Contract, December 28), I hope the public will become more aware of the ridiculous political tightrope Department of Environmental Quality employees are forced to walk in their jobs trying to keep this state clean. On one side is industry that will get you if you do, and, on the other, the public and environmental groups that will blame you if you don't.

As a former fellow employee of Ed Pond, Ifound him to have excellent technical abilities and knowledge of the mining industry, not some "hidden agenda." If he has any agenda, it's to protect human health and the environment, which is the basic mission of DEQ, and what the public expects. Despite advances in pollution-control technology and a good compliance record by many Arizona businesses, there are always those outfits that believe they are above the law, and will pull any strings necessary to get out of complying. The taxpayers of this state should be thankful for public servants like Ed Pond for doing the job they were hired to do.

Anybody opposed to adequate environmental protection should get up in front of a crowd of irate citizens at a public meeting to tell it the nearby plant, landfill or mine is just fine when many of the regulations have been sidestepped. This is a basic job requirement at DEQ, and worth more than the relatively low wages it pays. The employees of DEQ and citizens of Arizona deserve better.

Name withheld

I would like to comment on Amy Silverman's article about the Department of Economic Security, "Welfare That Doesn't Work" (Breach of Contract, December 28). I was told after I moved to this state 12 years ago that getting my handicapped daughter into a facility such as the sheltered workshop would take four years, and that placement in a community-living facility would take seven.

Now I am having another battle with DES and ComCare. If the federal government is going to let this state control welfare (God forbid), services for the handicapped will come almost to a standstill. And then what? We parents of handicapped children are wringing necks and, in frustration, hitting our heads against a padded wall! I know how it is to be frustrated--I know what it is to cry for help.

I feel DES is too big for its britches and needs to be overhauled. I believe that we need to get rid of all of the politicians and get some new blood in, before it is too late and we cannot turn around. I feel that we, as a country and as a state, are going downhill.

Rose Hoffman

State Senator Carol Springer confirmed a Legislature attitude problem in reforming government. The Constitution's top priority is not for government to protect citizens, as Springer states; the top priority of the Constitution is to protect citizens from government. What better example than "a refusal by the state to deal with unconstitutional inequalities in the school finance mechanism, despite evidence that thousands of children are attending substandard--even dangerous--schools"?

Herb. Knauss

Kudos to New Times for the excellent articles on state government. Now I know where the dumbing of America originated--right in the Arizona State Legislature. It then spread to the editorial boardroom of the Arizona Republic, which most always supports the idiotic state Republican agenda.

Jack M. Weiland
Sun City

The Ravers' Edge
Though ravers of the hard-core type probably would shun any media attention, my thanks to Candy and Julie for escorting David Holthouse to the underground ("Rave Review," December 21). The reporting was accurate and thought-provoking. Ravers are an amiable, motley crowd, the '90s avant-garde, and are synonymous with love, technology, cyberculture and progress. We are living proof of Alvin Toffler's prediction of the growing gap between the fast and the slow. We are the sensitive souls, the poets, artists, philosophers and prophets, and thus our culture helps keep a proper perspective in an era of intolerance and smothering government regulation. Being light-years ahead of conforming mainstream dogma, we are the guardians of the human soul. So go to raves, hang out in cyberspace and feel the karma.

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