Prop 204 supporters see what they want to see

| September 18 2012

By Jonathan Butcher

One of the perks of being a dad is that your children keep you current on popular culture. My son worked his way through the Harry Potter series this summer and informed me that “rememberalls” are small orbs to help you remember things and you can eat chocolate frogs, if they don’t hop away first.

He told me about the Mirror of Erised, which appears in the first of the seven-book series, and is a mirror that allows Harry to see exactly what he wants to. Everyone who looks into the mirror sees what they want to see.

Supporters of Prop 204 seem to be looking into the Mirror of Erised, and they want you to look, too. They hope you’ll see “guaranteed” funding for schools through a 1-cent sales tax increase.

What Prop 204 supporters hope you don’t see is the mishmash of special interest projects, like highway spending, that will also be funded and the fact that schools will have little accountability for what they do with the increased funding.

Simply spending more on schools doesn’t mean better results for children. Research from Harvard and Stanford Universities demonstrates there is no direct relationship between spending and achievement (otherwise the dots on this graph would all be assembled on the red line).

On the chart linked above, states that have increased school spending more in the past 20 years are on the right side, while higher-achieving states are near the top. Notice in states like Florida and Delaware, spending did not increase as much as in places like West Virginia and Maine, yet the achievement gains were greater.

Arizona has tried to improve test scores for 40 years by spending more on schools, but achievement scores haven’t budged. Arizonans should vote against Prop 204 and reject the vague promise that things will be better if only we raise taxes again.

Jonathan Butcher is Education Director for the Goldwater Institute.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: Proposition 204 Not as Advertised

Goldwater Institute: It’s the Same Old Song

Goldwater Institute: An Abbott and Costello Routine: Who’s on… 49th?

Education Next: Is the U.S. Catching Up?

Scholastic.com: The Harry Potter Collection

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