The High Cost of Education Reform

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Arizona's style of education reform has offered little new money and less short-range hope to these schools and these students. If anything, state funding cutbacks are widening the divide between wealthy and poor school districts, and will continue to do so, if state and federal budget projections are to be believed.

And, as Republican leaders propose new programs that affect relatively small numbers of children, reform of the existing education system--the system that will teach the vast majority of young people well into the next century--has ground to a standstill.

After spending vast amounts of time and money to develop standards and testing for public-school students--a system of measuring the actual performance of public schools--the state Education Department recently abolished its own skills-assessment program.

Lisa Graham, the state superintendent of public instruction, says she has a new standardized testing program on the drawing board. As yet, it does not have a shiny name or a prominent place in the rhetoric of the education revolution.

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Lisa Davis