As a small business owner I believe we, the taxpayers of Arizona, should invest heavily in our public education system. In fact, I am willing to step up and pay more in personal and business taxes so that we can hire the best teachers, build modern infrastructure and attract the most innovative and brilliant leaders in education. I advocate this taxation and spending plan not because I am altruistic, but because I’m greedy. That’s right, I make this case based on simple old-fashioned personal greed. I believe very few public investments could benefit my business and my personal wealth more than a world-leading public education system here in Arizona.
I am not advocating we invest in an education band-aid, I am advocating spending a great deal more money and getting exponentially more in return. Now is the time to build a world-leading system. In a few short years we can have a system that is holistic and aggressive, one that demands the highest level of performance from all involved, ingrains accountability, and provides the resources to achieve those goals. The return on our investment depends on building the highest quality education system, and nothing short.
Here is the math. Quality schools will attract quality businesses and if there is more business in our state, I for one, will earn my fair share of it. If Arizona becomes more successful, it is fair to assume that my business will reap proportional rewards. I also weigh the loss of opportunity into these calculations. If we continue on the same path and Arizona becomes widely known as the “new Appalachia” as it is being referred to in education circles, my business will suffer and my profits will go down. It was a clear message Google sent when they pulled out of Arizona; quality companies demand an educated employee pool and quality schools for their families.
There are too many other benefits to list in full, but at the top of the list is a well-educated employee pool and customer base. Any business owner will testify to the nightmare of uneducated employees and customers. There is also a direct relationship between our investment – or lack of it – in education and what we spend on incarceration. And on a personal level, why pay taxes and pay for private school for the children in my family?
Of course I am not the first to make a dollars and senses argument for our investment in public education. Our nation, and each of us, has prospered because of the commitment of those who came before us; the commitment that every person was created equal and every child will have the opportunity to succeed. This commitment sounds lofty and noble, but it is actually a very smart manifestation of personal gain, or even greed. In the eight-grade, at a well-funded public school, I was taught that our founding fathers referred to this as “Enlightened Self Interest”. I simply call it smart business. So, let’s get greedy and invest in our schools.