Tuesday is National Teacher Day, part of Teacher Appreciation Week, which has taken on special resonance here in Arizona where many teachers feel increasingly dishonored by policymakers who have put them at the center of controversial reforms.
The Arizona Republic summarizes today, See Arizona’s 6 biggest school controversies:
Here is a look at some of the state’s most debated education topics:
Common core controversy
Parents have packed meetings to debate the Common Core academic standards. The program remains in place despite two attempts to kill it in the Legislature this year. Diane Douglas, the state’s top schools chief, has launched a statewide effort to get public comment.
NOTE: Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas is holding an Education Town Hall in Tucson on Thursday, May 28 at Pima Community College, Center for the Arts (West Campus) two miles west of I-10 on St. Mary’s Road. (St. Mary’s turns into Anklam Road.) Parking is free. The “listening tour” is from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Too much testing?
New York and New Jersey have become hotbeds of the anti-testing movement, sometimes led by teachers’ unions. Arizona requires testing for the Move On When Reading law and for teacher evaluations. But schools here have not seen the same widespread opposition that’s swept other states. Lawmakers rejected a bill to allow “opt-outs” and required a civics test to graduate from high school.
A measles outbreak in California earlier this year spotlighted the vaccination debate. Arizona had seven cases, traced to an unvaccinated family. Parents can exempt their children from the measles vaccine if they sign a waiver. But The Arizona Republic found that nearly a third of unvaccinated kindergarteners lacked the form.
As more testing moves online, parents and school leaders worry that companies — or the government — could mine data from standardized tests taken on computers. Three bills were introduced in the Legislature this session to protect student data from the government and third-party providers and to give parents rights, but none passed.
Not enough money?
Thousands of people rallied at the state Capitol in February to decry the new state budget. While per-pupil funding increased, the state cut money to schools for capital needs. Also cut were funds for A-rated schools, district-sponsored charters, career and technical education and small-school charter assistance.
Where the money goes
When Gov. Doug Ducey took office, he said he wanted schools to spend less on “overhead” like administration and more in the classroom. The Legislature backed away from making that a requirement. The Auditor General found that district schools spent 53.8 percent of their money on instruction, the same proportion as last year and down from 58.6 percent in 2004.
The inflation adjustment school funding case of Cave Creek Unified School District is back in the hands of Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper after the Arizona legislature failed to come to a settlement agreement with the state’s school districts. A decision on the back payments portion of what the state owes to the school districts is expected at any time.
And thanks to another massive budget cut to the state universities by our legislature and governor, the Arizona Board of Regents has again been forced to increase tuition at the state universities. Regents OK tuition hikes for UA, ASU and NAU.
No profession is more important to the development of young minds to help them grow into intelligent, thoughtful and productive adults than teachers. Be sure to thank a teacher today for all that they do under difficult conditions.
And start electing people to office who value education and treat teachers and educators with the respect that they deserve.