Acclaimed historian Paul Johnson has written that it is impossible to know if the fortunes generated by creating empires ultimately outweigh the costs. Regarding Europe, Johnson concluded that the European Age of Empire was ultimately about "colored maps."
Here then is a colored map for you to consider, courtesy of our friends at the Heritage Foundation, showing Florida's Hispanic student scores on 4th grade reading compared to the 31 states they either outscored or tied in 2009.
Here is a smaller, but growing, empire: the number of states Florida's African American students outscore or tie.
Notice that Arizona is on both maps. Florida's Hispanic students crushed our statewide average for all students by more than a grade level, and Florida's African American students have also edged us out. Just for the sake of an apples to apples comparison: Florida's Hispanic students outscored Arizona's Hispanic students by approximately two and a half grade levels on 4th grade reading, up from a single grade level advantage in 1998.
The Arizona legislature is currently considering several major school reforms based upon changes put in place in Florida a decade ago, including grading schools A, B, C, D or F and curtailing the social promotion of illiterate students. The 2009 NAEP scores strongly reinforce the need to pass these far-reaching reforms.
Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president of research for the Goldwater Institute.