Arizona has been in the last of categories for many years on education spending and test scores (maybe they are related?).  The politicians always talk a good game about how important education is. If it was important to them, then their actions would support their talk and Arizona education would be fully funded .  The legislators say that good education brings in companies that want to locate here.  But by slashing education budgets, how is good education supposed to happen?   Finally, a former CEO blasts Arizona legislators’ education policy

Gov. Jan Brewer and the state’s top lawmakers got a reality check Tuesday from former Intel Chief Executive and Board Chairman Craig Barrett, who told them Arizona’s education system is hindering economic-development efforts. 

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I think that the slashing of the education budgets is going to hurt Arizona in the long run.  Every state that slashes education budgets will find that a generation of childern not having the education they will need.  More companies, more CEOs, need to start speaking up.  This will hurt their bottom line in the future as well.  Last year in Arizona, a sales tax increase was overwhelmingly approved by the voters (the legistlators were not willing to consider the issue) to help make up the shortfall.  K-12 education will suffer the most with the new budget cuts.  The universities will raise their tuition (twice in the same year despite their belt tightening) because they have to.  This will drive more people to the community colleges.  Maricopa Community Colleges will raise their tuition for the first time in four years – from $71 to $76 a credit hour.  This is still an excellent price compared to other community colleges.  MCCD leadership did an excellent job by foreseeing budget issues four years ago and taking steps to tighten their belts.   But K-12 can’t raise their prices, and they have been belt tightening for four years as well.  They have to work with the budget the state gives them, and right now, it will be less then the 48th ranking Arizona had in education expenditure. 

“Quality education is extremely important to a place like Intel,” Barrett said. “(The) education cutbacks don’t bode well for that.”

Our kid’s future is being mortgaged.  Companies will have to spend more money training employees.

Judy Wood, president of Contact One Call Center Inc., said she was concerned about K-12 education. Arizona schools traditionally rank low in both funding and test scores. Wood said she hires for a lot of entry-level jobs and has found that students are lacking in basic skills.

If students are lacking in basic skills, the business that hires them has to train them – something they should not have to do.  Education was once held as something important.  It is easy to see that now, it is not.  The schools will continue to do the best they can. The kids will suffer.  But I am sure that in a few years, the schools will once again be blamed for poor education and the teachers are not doing their jobs.   How quickly the politicians will forget - they cut the budget.

Mark Viquesney