Vote For The Lesser Known Evil

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Arizona spends $5,319 to educate each and every student.

That sounds like a lot of money. But if you lived in California, the number would be $6,258. In Illinois, $7,407; Pennsylvania, $8,009; Michigan, $8,151.

You've heard it before, but since nothing changes, it needs to be said again and again. Arizona ranks 49th among the 50 states in per pupil spending for education.

At the top is New York at $9,555. Only Utah at $4,895 spends less than Arizona.

Even traditionally poor states like Mississippi ($5,938), Louisiana ($6,756) and Alabama ($6,593) spend considerably more than Arizona.

What kind of message does this send about our priorities? More important, what kind of disadvantage does it impose on our children when they have to compete with, say, a student from Wyoming ($8,555) or Nebraska ($8,156) to get into a quality university?

With a governor in office who has made education a top priority, it doesn't take a high school graduate to figure out where the problem lies -- in the state legislature. Year after year, the senators and representatives we send to Phoenix make decisions that are not in the best interests of our children.

Some of them pay lip service to education. Some don't even bother.

And why should they? They know we will continue to check their names on the ballot. Because they belong to our political party. Because we recognize them. Because they show their faces in our community just before every election.

But this election, we have an idea. Since nothing else seems to work, maybe we should all consider simply voting the incumbents out of office. Instead of voting for state legislative candidates because they're Republicans or Democrats, or because their family roots run deep, or because they've been representing us forever, maybe we should simply vote for the politicians who haven't yet had the opportunity to vote against our children.

We're not saying it will change anything. There is something about simply spending time at the state capitol that seems to have a corrosive influence on the perception of right from wrong.

But every vote sends a message, and the message we have to keep sending is that we want our children and our state to be able to compete on a level playing field.

We'd have to be pretty dumb to do anything less.

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