|March 31 1962
by Morris K. Udall
ARIZONA'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS--HOW WELL ARE WE DOING?
General federal aid to public schools
has been a bitterly contested matter for many years. On Capitol Hill it
is generally agreed that the issue is dead for this session, stymied by
a two-headed coalition:
This might be a good time for a calm appraisal of the efforts of Arizona taxpayers and school boards to provide the teachers and classrooms needed for our exploding school population.
There is an old courtroom saying that "figures can lie and liars can figure"; be that as it may, statistics can be interesting. In this report I would like to use some recent Congressional Record figures to compare Arizona's performance with that of other states.
To me, the figures show that, relative
to other states, the taxpayers of Arizona are carrying the third heaviest
load. Regardless of views on federal aid or statewide equalization, one
must admire the efforts our people have been willing to make.
Relative "Effort" Among the States
A wealthy person can reasonably
be expected to do more for his children than one of meager means; the same
is true of states. In congressional terms the job a state can be expected
to do for its public schools depends on (a) its taxpayers' level of income,
and (b) the number of school age children in the population as compared
with taxpaying adults:
On the basis of these comparisons
we can determine Arizona's "relative effort". This significant
figure is the "percent of school operating costs per adult
in relation to per capita income". On this scale our "effort" is a heavy
9.5%. Only New Mexico (10.0%) and Alaska (10.9%) have a bigger burden.
Connecticut is low with 4.4%.
A Report on Classroom Construction
As many double session students
can testify, there is a shortage of Arizona classrooms. Heroic efforts
are being made to fill the gap, but we are having some trouble in meeting
the exploding needs. Here are the most recent figures:
Conclusions Will Differ
Those who study these figures may reach opposite conclusions. Some might claim that a clear case is made for some equalization among the states by means of the Kennedy federal aid to education proposal. Other reasonable minds will conclude that Arizona is now solving and can continue to solve its own problems without more federal help. I said "more" because federal funds provided 10% (11. 6 million) of the $119 million spent last year on our Arizona public schools.
What do you think? I would welcome your comments.
P.S. In a newsletter last summer I tabulated the amounts and types of federal aid to education received by Arizona in 1959-60. In a more recent study titled "Federal Aid to Education: Its Impact on Arizona" just published by Arizona State University, Dr. Louis S. Meyer has compiled an excellent history and report. I recommend it to students of this complex problem. On the other side of this sheet are a few highlights from his pamphlet.
By Dr. Louis S. Meyer, Arizona State University
Expenditures for Public Elementary and High Schools
"Control" Through Federal Grant-In-Aid Programs
"In the field of education most, if not all, of the cooperative projects have at one time or another been tinged with the idea of "control". At the same time this "control" aspect has been used argumentatively to illustrate what type of a threat these programs are to state and local autonomy. However, for the most part these programs, over the many years of their existence, have contributed significantly to needs in areas of education not adequately cared for by local initiative."
Federal Government Assumes a Large Share of Costs?
"When viewed from an overall point the University (of Arizona) received $1,164,226 from the Federal government in 1957 while its expenditures totaled $10,626,665. Thus ... total current fund income of Federal origin received by the University of Arizona came to slightly more than 10 per cent of its total expenditures. This is considerably lower than the percentage of funds received by all the land-grant colleges and universities compared to their expenditures where the ratio of receipts to expenditures is 24.6 per cent.
Federal Funds Received by the University of Arizona (1957-58)
"Fiscally speaking, the total amount of educational grants-in-aid relative to the whole expenditure is of a minor nature. Yet, it is a very important lesser part. Programs which are recognized today as being of considerable significance to the state's educational operation would flounder without this aid. And more important, there Is no assurance that the State of Arizona could raise the necessary $12 million to offset the discontinuance of these funds...
"In general, criticism may be made of any aid program where regulation or supervision concerns itself. But just as generally, the public would oppose such programs if there were no regulatory provisions, for it is through these conditions that a distribution of expenditures is achieved. On the whole, Arizona has not been adversely affected from regulatory or supervisory aspects..."
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