Arizona's tiered education system, rife with judgment, fails students

Last week, Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, made statements that would offend anyone who cared to listen:

"We spread limited money over a large area, and we have a lot of college graduates who are working in retail and food service jobs. Is that really a good way to spend money?"

Kavanagh thinks, essentially, that "some people" do not deserve a college education at an institution funded by Arizona. In March of 2012, he said that students should pay $2,000 so that they would have "skin in the game."

There are many pressures on funding for Arizona's public research universities, with funding cut enormously since 2009.

Kavanagh's ire is not directed at all students, but merely students studying those disciplines that are not so soon to pay off. He demonizes liberal arts students and glorifies engineering students.

Honestly, today, any creativity should be encouraged because all disciplines have something to add to creative solutions for the 21st century's problems. To categorically put down so many people with a single remark means that many prospective students will reject the idea of college because the people charged with investing the public's money in education decided that it isn't worth it to invest in the future of Arizona's bright minds.

By saying that "continuously pouring more money into higher ed is not the solution to get (higher paying) jobs," Kavanagh discounts the idea that a college graduation is the easiest way to improve the lives of Arizona citizens. At the same time, there's less and less funding and resources to help those students who are studying disciplines such as engineering. His statements simply don't match up.

Not only does Kavanagh demonize current students, but he calls out future college students. He said, "Why are we investing all this money in a research university degree? What’s the purpose of it?”

The purpose of a college education, Rep. Kavanagh, is to lift up the lives of those defeated by the rampant inequality found in Arizona.

In a broad investigation by The Arizona Republic, the students who were failed most often and most systematically were those who came from less affluent and more rural parts of Arizona.

Students from small towns dreaming of the college experience are failed by the K-12 system, that Kavanagh correctly points out. The idea that we should just cut college funding because primary school education does not prepare students for college is absolute bunk.

Education, at all levels and in all parts of Arizona, must be emphasized.

By creating a tiered education system that emphasizes only some student's achievement harks back to a dark time in our nation's history: segregation.

By saying "what's the point," Kavanagh ignores socioeconomic problems rampant in Arizona. We haven't invested fully in our students. Of course they won't be performing at the level that Kavanagh claims they should.

By saying that some people are more worthy of the light of education, Kavanagh creates a two-tiered system that would continue to benefit those who are already privileged. It's the same old story that people used to keep people uneducated and without the bright future that a college education affords.

Our education system doesn't work because people like Kavanagh keep bashing the system they helped create; a system without adequate funding and good expectations.


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