Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Guest post -- Duval: Kavanagh's Attack on Opportunity

Arizona House Appropriations chairman John Kavanagh (R-LD23/Fountain Hills) says Arizona spends too much money providing a university education to students. “Is that really a good way to spend money?” he asks.

While other states are seeking to lead the new economy by graduating increasing numbers of students from higher education, Rep. Kavanagh is arguing the exact opposite. He claims that Arizona is spending too much money providing a university education to students who don’t really need it.

Kavanagh's message to talented students unable to afford college is “tough luck.” He couldn’t be more wrong. Every bright student with motivation and talent should have the opportunity to go as far as their God-given talents will allow them to go.

This misguided attack on higher education is, in every practical sense, a Republican attack on opportunity.

After the massive cuts to K-12 schools, defunding all-day kindergarten, and ending the once-cent sales tax that funds our children’s schools, the last thing the folks at the Capitol should do is to set another tripwire on our children’s road to opportunity.

These attacks on opportunity have led to some of the largest cuts to education funding in the country, and they couldn’t come at a worse time – half of Arizona’s public high schools saw 5 percent or fewer of their graduates from the Class of 2006 earn a bachelor’s degree.

My message to Arizona voters is different. We can move AZ forward

We can invest in our children's higher education and build the workforce that will draw high-tech businesses to invest in Arizona. 

We can improve opportunities for the next generation. We must work hard now and not sit back to watch as others pass us on the road to success.

Fred DuVal is currently running for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Arizona. His campaign website is Fred2014.


  1. Fred DuVal's criticism of my position on higher education is unjustified and misstates my position. Although the news article that started the controversy did not report my full position on education, which contributes to the confusion.

    My education position is partially summarized in my news article statements, “If somebody’s going to end up in a sales position or someone’s going to be a real estate agent, why are we investing all this money in a research university degree.” “What’s the purpose of it?” Although my position could be more succinctly summed up by saying, “Not everybody needs a RESEARCH university degree.” I believe that to be true.

    The discussion I had with the reporter was a spinoff from my stating that I agreed with the governor’s position to not give $100 million to the state universities for research building construction. I suggested that we reassess our philosophy of higher education that almost everybody should go to a research university. I said that many students would be better served by going to a four-year state or private college. California has a parallel state college system to its university system. Colleges are less expensive to run, which keeps tuition and taxpayer bills lower. College professors are focused exclusively on teaching, which benefits the students. Unless you want to go for an advanced degree, become a college professor, be a researcher or compete for a highly competitive job with a top tier company, you do not need to graduate from a RESEARCH university.

    I also told the reporter that many people would be even better served by going to a community college, where the cost savings are even higher. If you want to open a small business, be a realtor or a host of other occupations that do not require a four-year degree, a two-year community college degree can get you there.

    Finally, I said that trade schools should also fit into the mix to give students well paying trade jobs or jobs in high-tech factories.

    These positions are mainstream positions that many educators and policy makers advocate. Given a limited state budget, I felt that giving $100 million for research building was wrong and that we need to spread limited funds around better.

    Let me also close by stating that packing everyone into a research university inevitably lowers the standards of the institution and makes graduating students less competitive in their search for graduate school placement or jobs with top tier companies. While Arizona may never be able to cultivate an Ivy League university, by shifting some students to a state college system, we can elevate the status of our universities, while providing students with more school choice and less expensive degrees.

    1. First off, DuVal did NOT misstate your position. If anybody did, it was the corporate media, but even in that I'm not inclined to believe you.

      DuVal's criticism of your remarks, because apparently you didn't clarify them on any forum or other medium, stand unimpeached and unimpeachable.

      Further, based on your attempt to backpedal here, it would appear that your consternation is more appropriately aimed at your own tendency to put your mouth in gear before fully engaging your brain.

      Your points that community colleges and trade schools are appropriate avenues for some people are fine and good. But to really put those points in perspective, we have to go back to K-12 funding that has been squeezed and cut in grotesque manner over the last few years.

      How much guidance counseling can high schools provide when they are trapped into focus on teaching to the test to turn out people who fit into the Little Boxes people like Pete Seeger sang about.

      I happen to think the reporters probably got the essence of your comment correctly because even in what you wrote above, you ONLY talk about cutting "$100 million for research building" and NOT about putting that $100 million into community colleges or vocational training.

      I don't buy your attempt to tell us you didn't really mean what the reporters told us you said. And I definitely do not buy your unsupported claim that "packing everyone into a research university inevitably lowers the standards of the institution and makes graduating students less competitive" for grad school placements.

      You may want to support your claims -- that the reporters got it wrong -- by proposing -- in legislation -- those more productive uses that you believe that $100 million should be invested in, rather than just coming up with an excuse to not fund state universities.

      IF you are genuinely interested in cutting the cost of operating Arizona government, you should be looking at the private prison industrial complex AND the reasons why that particular sector of the economy has been growing.

      One of the reasons it has been growing is because educational opportunity has not been available to everyone. Close behind that is the improper, draconian approach to the problem of drug abuse in Arizona.

  2. Here's your $100 million to save/cut the cost of Arizona state government.

  3. By the way, John, Arizona DID have a parallel 4-year college from 1996-2005.

    The students and faculty advocated for its continuation but Peter Likens and the ABOR shut it down.

    I wrote about it when I was still in the Cap Times newsroom.