by David Safier
"Throw." As in "throw money at education." It's a word and a phrase the anti-public education crowd love to throw around with abandon. And ex-Intel-CEO Craig Barrett, by using word and the phrase, revealed himself as clearly as if he wore a sign around his neck saying "I'm part of the conservative I-hate-public-schools crowd" (except, of course, charters schools which, I guess, "use" money instead of throwing it at education.)
Here's the line in Barrett's diatribe against Prop. 204, the renewal of the one cent sales tax for education.
“Prop 204 throws money at education and numerous other special interest groups, but doesn’t tie that money to performance improvements."
I could simply disagree with Barrett if he said we need to target the money instead of giving it to the schools to use at their discretion. He would be wrong, especially in Arizona where schools are so starved for funds -- rock bottom in per student spending in the country! -- any infusion of funds will help. Especially since, even if when Prop. 204 passes, we'll still be rock bottom in per student spending in the country. But when he uses the loaded phrase "throw money at education," he makes it clear, he's the enemy.
FYI, we "throw money" at the military, and conservatives scream that anyone who asks for a penny less funding is weak on defense, even though the military says it has no need for some of the weapons programs we're spending money on.
Families "throw money" at their children's nutrition, health, clothing, you name it. Everyone seems to think that's pretty all right.
Corporations, especially innovative tech corporations like Intel, "throw money" at research and development. They know lots of ideas won't yield any results, but they also know if they starve the corporation, if they don't spend sufficient sums to improve existing products and create new ones, the company will stagnate and eventually wither on the vine.
But somehow, if you give the worst funded schools and school districts in the country more money for them to use at their discretion to improve education for their students, that's a horrible waste of funds.
Using Craig Barrett's own logic, the for profit online education corporation K12 Inc., which has over 4,000 students in its Arizona Virtual Academy charter school and is on academic probation with the state for its poor student achievement, should be shut down before another penny is "thrown at" the failing educational enterprise. Craig Barrett sits on the national Board of Directors of K12 Inc., but I have never once -- not once -- heard him discuss the corporation's national reputation for low achievement and low graduation rates, or mention the lawsuit its stockholders have filed because they were lied to about student achievement. He loves to play "expert" on education, but he's mum about his own association with his own very troubled corporation which every year has hundreds of millions of tax dollars "thrown" at it by state departments of education across the country. Comments, Dr. Barrett?