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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Did you know that Arizona is 47th in state and local per capita spending on K-12 education?

Did you know that Arizona is 47th in state and local per capita spending on K-12 education?

This fact was reported in Governing Magazine Sourcebook based on Public Education Financial Reports for FY 2007. They also reported that Arizona was 46th in state and local per capita spending on higher education and in the same year 10th in the nation in per capita spending on prisons.

Why are these facts so important? Well a strong education increases workers’ average earnings and productivity, and it also reduces the incidence of social problems such as drug abuse, crime, welfare dependency, and lack of access to medical care, all of which can weigh heavily on the economy.

There is plenty of research available that links primary and secondary education to economic development and growth. The research recognizes people as a economic asset and shows that increased investment in skills, knowledge, and health provides future returns to the economy through increases in labor productivity

It seems every time you turn on the TV or pick up a magazine everyone is searching for a quick government fix to the U.S. economy. There are bank bailouts, stimulus programs and even cash for clunkers, and although these initiatives are helpful they are merely a Band-Aid for our economy and not long-term solutions. There are no quick fixes and in order for us to create a sustainable economy we must invest in improving the quality of our current education system to provide the skills necessary for an innovative and productive workforce.

Innovation is the only way that Arizona and the U.S. can compete with the high skill, low wage economies. An innovative economy demands a highly educated population. Today the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world. According to Organisation For Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD); the U.S. is 21st in High School Completion, 15th in College Completion, 24th in Mathematics and 21st in Science. The OECD is an international organization that is made up of 30 countries that accept the principles of representative democracy and free-market economy.

Strong economies compete on the basis of high value, not solely low cost. Yet in Arizona, growing economic disparity hinders the State’s ability to provide the high-value-added products and services necessary to compete in a global marketplace. The economic problems associated with this disparate growth are stagnant wage growth and depressed market demand – in turn we see an increase in social problems, such as crime, drug abuse, gangs, reliance on government assistance, and family break-ups.

All children should be prepared for success in higher education! We must be progressive and take an approach to solving these problems by increasing competitiveness and equipping tomorrow’s workforce with the skills and attitudes for economic and civic success.

Today Arizona and its elected officials are faced with fiscal crises that sometimes lead them to cut the funding streams for education. Over the long haul, however, our communities will need to position themselves better by developing practical, long-term plans for sustained investments in education, workforce preparation, and retraining.

Investing wisely in education generates real, quantifiable results for workers, businesses, and society. If people are tied to low-paying jobs and unable to acquire skills needed by employers, productivity grows more slowly. If businesses do not have a workforce that is appropriately educated, they will be less competitive with our overseas rivals.

If citizens do not have what it takes to succeed in today’s economy, they will feel threatened by economic change and are much more likely to recycle back and forth between unemployment insurance, welfare, and poorly paid, insecure employment. The spreading number of low-paying jobs breaks a longstanding social contract under which most Americans work: “If I work hard, I will be able to keep my job, support my family, and enjoy a growing income.” Quality education is a critical tool for upholding this longstanding contract.

Prevention is almost always cheaper than treatment. If we do not invest now, we most certainly will pay later! I would like to end this article with a piece of President Obama’s speech titled “College for All.” Enjoy!

“But just as it is the responsibility of politicians and educators to provide opportunity and to make the education system work, it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship.

“But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma, and dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country — and this country needs and values the talents of every American.” – President Obama

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