Arizona Superintendent Diane Douglas Delivers Reality Check (No, really!)

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

This morning Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, acting within the responsibilities of her office and seeking to protect the best interest of Arizona students imo, released a power point presentation providing a reality check regarding some recent legislation regarding state standards. Here is a copy of the first slide:


And here is the second:

AZ DoE 2


Zero snark here: I commend Superintendent Douglas for taking this step. None of this means Arizona can’t adopt its own academic standards (I expect that we will do so) but it does mean that some careful thought about how to do it is in order. Yes I agree that the feds should not be taking our money and then giving some of it back in the form of school aid so they can boss us around etc. but Superintendent Douglas is living in the real world rather than a preferred world. I don’t think many would like to be in the situation of having Arizona taxpayers helping to pay for the U.S. DoE budget while dealing ourselves out of any of the funding for AZ schools. This #shadowfaction member applauds the Superintendent for this move!



11 Responses to Arizona Superintendent Diane Douglas Delivers Reality Check (No, really!)

  1. So, because we live in the “real world,” we ought give up what little freedom we have left because they’re taking our money anyway?

    Our forefathers put their very lives on the line, and we’re worried about whether the local schools will “suffer” if we don’t go along with testing. I’d consider moving, but I’m not sure which countries are left standing that are truly free any more.

  2. matthewladner says:

    Happy Elf-

    Our forefathers made much greater sacrifices for their freedom than having to give a bit of thought on the best way to proceed. It’s not too much to ask in my view.

  3. Given that increased education spending doesn’t improve performance and federal regulations degrade performance, I’m not sure Arizona has much to genuinely lose by telling the feds to keep their bribe.

  4. matthewladner says:

    I think it is more like a protection racket than a bribe. You don’t get offered a bribe with you own money, but the mafia can use your “protection” money to hire more muscle to keep your “voluntary contributions” coming.

    There certainly are those who would celebrate losing federal K-12 funds here in AZ, but it’s not hard to project them quickly becoming a very tiny minority. Last time I checked the whole system spends about $10b- feds provide 40% of special education funding, FRL $$, etc.

  5. Greg Forster says:

    I hereby arrest you as a violator of the Denominator Law!

    Arizona spends almost $10B per year. $325M is 3.25% of their budget. You’re telling me only a “very tiny minority” could tolerate a 3.25% cut regardless of potential benefits? If so, Arizona’s in trouble.

    • matthewladner says:

      The percent chance of the feds cutting off $582m in federal funds is very remote. First there is a very strong chance that the bills in question will die in the Senate (some similar bills already have) and/or get vetoed. Thus far the bark of the federal DoE has been worse than its bite in the past, so this whole scenario has a whiff of Dungeons and Dragons (roll for initiative!) But then again Arne Duncan might not ever have the red carpet rolled out for him quite so invitingly while he is still running the Department. Arne’s advisors can invoke the domino theory etc.

      So while $582m is not a huge part of a $10b total school budget, one must anticipate tried and true tactics such as the Washington Monument strategy employed by the Department of Interior. You wouldn’t even have to be that creative- you cut staff in sensitive areas and then provide outraged parents with your explanation for why you took the action. There wouldn’t be much reason to expect the same level of public indifference to standards applied to laying off 40% of a school’s special education staff or whatever else they choose to do.

      This doesn’t mean that AZ must accept being bossed around by USDoE forever. It means you need to be Sun Tzu rather than Lee at Gettysburg.

  6. R Hawkins says:

    Back in 1776 the author of this article would have been considered a Tory

    • matthewladner says:

      Some people during the lead up to the Revolution threw rocks at redcoats and got themselves shot. Others made the plans and preparations necessary to realize their goals.

      • Greg Forster says:

        An even more apt observation would be that the colonial leaders spent years trying to get the king and Parliament to redress their grievances before declaring independence. And there is no question that they would have accepted less than a full set of concessions and gone home happy.

        If King George and his advisors had just been willing to yield a bit more at the bargaining table, you and I would be speaking English today!

  7. matthewladner says:

    Heh- and we would not be two people separated by a common language.

    There is a time and a place for everything, but I’m very grateful that Ben Franklin did not run out onto the streets of Philadelphia to throw rocks at Red Coats until he got himself shot. Instead he served as our first ambassador to France and secured the financial support needed to carry on the effort and the naval support that made Yorktown possible.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Well, don’t take your stand on Ben Franklin – he really was a, shall we say, ethically pragmatic man. Your real model here is John Adams denouncing the mob violence in the Boston Massacre. “Why we should scruple to call such a set of people a mob, I can’t conceive, unless the name be too good for them.”

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