Reasons To Vote For Prop. 301 Don't Include State's Ranking

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Regarding your Oct. 27 editorial "'Yes' on 301; because they're not just 'other people's kids.'" You say, "Today, Arizona ranks 50th the worst in the nation in expenditures per student."

I think this statement needs a lot of clarification, some of which is contained in the following figures, courtesy of the Arizona Tax Research Association.

First, the current figures from the National Education Association show Arizona in 47th place for fiscal year 1998-99, with expenditures per pupil at $4,598. However, these figures are for maintenance and operation only. Arizona is in 7th place in capital spending per pupil at $898 per year.

Further, when these figures are put in context with what Arizonans have available to spend, Arizona is in 23rd place in the U.S., spending $47.27 of every $1,000 we earn on maintenance and operation costs for the K-12 school program. When capital expenditures are added, Arizona moves up to 17th place in total expenditures for K-12 at $56.66 of every $1,000 we earn.

Some other interesting statistics on Arizona K-12 costs:

Arizona teacher salaries rank 31st in the U.S. at an average of $34,411 per year. When Arizona teachers' pay is compared to what other people in Arizona earn, Arizona teachers are in 24th place, earning 56.5 percent more than the average Arizona income.

When total instructional salaries (administrators, superintendents, principals, etc. plus teachers) are compared, Arizona is in 11th place at $44,819 per year. When this total instructional staff pay is compared to what the average Arizonan earns, Arizona is in first place with instructional staff at 203.8 percent, or more than twice what the average Arizonan earns per year.

Thus it appears to me that compared to Arizona's basic wage structure, the K-12 complement are adequately compensated.

One other area of concern. We spend 57.4 percent of our total K-12 dollars on instruction, while Maine, in first place, spends 68.2 percent. Further, Maine only receives a B+ rating from "Education Week," which means that the magazine believes that even Maine should spend a higher percent of its dollars in the classroom.

Incidentally, Arizona receives a D- from Education Week.

It would appear that one way to reduce the higher administrative costs would be less reliance on federal funds. Nationally, they provide about 6 percent of K-12 revenue, and I have heard estimates that federal requirements generate 50 percent of the schools' paperwork.

To sum all this up, there may be reasons to vote "yes" on Proposition 301, but the "fact" that Arizona ranks 50th isn't one of them.

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