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Opinion: If you think Utah should copy Arizona in education, think again

While Arizona boasts of education spending accounts, we should look at their test scores before we follow their lead

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Cindy Cordts, a third grade teacher at Oakwood Elementary School, laughs along with some of her students.

Cindy Cordts, a third grade teacher at Oakwood Elementary School, laughs along with some of her students on Friday, May 4, 2018, in Peoria, Ariz.

Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

I read the Nov. 4 piece “Education spending accounts would give parents a choice” in the Deseret News and wondered about the author’s suggestion that we follow Arizona’s lead. 

Before we do that, we need to know a bit more about Arizona’s education quality. As legislative chair of the Utah Retired School Employees Association (URSEA), I try to follow education stats in neighboring states. In a fairly recent report by the National Assessment of Education Progress, Arizona’s fourth and eighth grades scored mostly below average in reading, math and science. When adjusted for demographic information, Arizona ranked 49th in fourth grade and 45th in eighth grade in reading, and 34th in fourth grade and 30th in eighth grade in math. The state ranked 47th in efforts to fund public education, 46th in average teacher salary and 45th in student-to-teacher ratio. 

None of those rankings are desirable goals. So I don’t think we should follow Arizona’s lead in education policy.

Fred Ash

Legislative chair of the Utah Retired School Employees Association