"Phoenix was once hailed as a model city. It grew fast. Its streets were new and shiny, and housing was cheap. Beginning in 1950, the National Civic League voted Phoenix an "All-American City" four times. In 1993 an international competition rated Phoenix, along with Christchurch, New Zealand, the world's best-governed city. Forbes recently ranked it as America's second-best job market, thanks to its buoyant property market and rapid urban growth. In the past five years metropolitan Phoenix's population has grown by almost a fifth, to over 4m.
But in the past few years the awards have mostly dried up and things have started to go wrong. Burglary, theft and car crime are among the highest in the country. Newcomers who left Los Angeles to avoid smog and commuter traffic find that both are little better in Phoenix, and the area scores embarrassingly low in national education ratings. In October the Morgan Quitno Press, a research group, credited Arizona with the worst public education in the country, thanks to overcrowded classrooms, poor test scores and low salaries for teachers."