The lambasting was in response to the fact that school districts throughout the state likely will face a tough year fiscally because money is tight and times are hard at the Arizona Capitol. State allocations for items such as textbooks and software likely will fall victim to the budget ax.
On one hand, the criticism is fair. A recent report in Education Week showed that Arizona is at the bottom on the national barrel when it comes to funding its schools. The national average for per-pupil funding is $7,079; Arizona spends $5,006 per student.
On the other hand, Arizona school districts have to realize that their predicament is no different than the state itself is facing or Arizona's municipalities and county governments. It's the down side of trickle-down economics. It's the reality of an economy gone bad.
And in the event school leaders want to try and look on the bright side of the equation, we now have a voter-approved education sales tax. That's a cash cow school administrators of years past never had the chance to milk.
Finally, let's not forget the consistent stubborn resistance we have seen from Arizona school leaders to restructure and downsize the bureaucracy of Arizona education. Efforts at both the state and local levels to consolidate and unify school districts in an effort to streamline bureaucracy and minimize costs have consistently hit the proverbial brick wall.
The Arizona education establishment has always been quick on the draw to criticize state spending for schools, and often their criticism has been right on target.
Unfortunately, they've been equally slow to shoulder the burden at finding ways to eliminate their own bureaucracy and, thus, funneling more money directly to teachers and students.