If education is the key to all doors why are the state’s universities, the Board of Regents and the Legislature doing their best to pour Crazy Glue into the keyholes?
Last week, the Regents voted to vastly curtail an enormously successful scholarship program that paid the state college tuition for four years of students who had aced all three sections of the AIMS test in high school.
The reason? It’s too expensive. Too many students were qualifying for the scholarship, costing university scholarship funds millions, the university presidents complained.
They blamed the Legislature for failing to properly fund higher education and for slicing hundreds of millions of dollars from their budgets the past two fiscal years.
Conservative Republicans who control the Legislature have argued they had no choice but to eviscerate higher education funding and other government programs.
The bad economy was to blame, not them. Raising taxes to cover funding shortfalls would have made the economy worse, they argued.
The key to Arizona’s economy is education. Study after study has shown that the better educated you are the better you’re paid.
A recent report revealed that Arizona is an impoverished state, second worse in the nation in terms of the number of people living in poverty.
As the saying goes, give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime.
Same goes for the poor, give them money through welfare programs and you keep them poor. Educate them and you give them keys to doors that open to vast landscapes of opportunity littered with higher paying jobs.
A state government that truly operates in the people’s best interest would do everything it could to ensure the people have a multitude of educational opportunities in order to give them the best chance to succeed. The people’s success is the government’s success.
A state government tasked with helping to foster a robust state economy should ensure that Arizona has a highly trained, well-educated workforce so that it can attract industries and businesses that provide high-paying jobs.
A workforce of highly educated, high-wage earners is certainly better for the economy than the reverse. Right?
A state government concerned with the quality of education in its elementary and high schools would make sure students are not only well educated, but given the motivation to avail themselves of that education.
The AIMS scholarship was a golden carrot dangled before high school students telling them that if they worked hard, studied and did well on the state’s standardized test they would be rewarded with a free college education.
It was a benevolent bargain, we, meaning Arizonans, would do our best to educate you and if you did your best to learn, we’d pay for your college education.
Not anymore. It costs too much, apparently.
The takeaway from last week’s decision by the Regents is that when it comes to education, Arizona has a lot to learn.