In his third State of the State address today, Gov. Doug Ducey detailed the opportunity climate that is Arizona. He talked about growth in the economy and his many successes in reducing red tape and regulations that kill innovation and economic expansion. He plans to do more here. But in devoting the bulk of the speech to education, it’s clear the governor is not amused by those who bash Arizona’s schools, and that he is doubling down on his commitment to education after passage of Proposition 123.
It is worth repeating, Proposition 123 was a huge deal. It settled a stifling lawsuit and put in place an injection of $3.5 billion of new resources into K-12.
Not exactly chopped liver.
Yet the “crybabies,” as Bob Robb called them in a recent column, constantly questioned the administration’s continued interest in education.
Well, today the governor laid out a thoughtful step-by-step roadmap for continuous improvement in K-12 classrooms. He also made clear to the naysayers that there are abundant examples of educational quality across Arizona. We simply want more of them.
How? Well, there were no silver bullets. Instead, the plan has a practical, rational and informed focus on teachers, early literacy and funding for excelling schools with an extra emphasis on those serving low-income students. When the budget is released on Friday we will know more. But today’s speech was clearly intended to lay out a plan for the long haul.
And by focusing not just on money, but also on effective strategies, the governor told those looking for a simple “4,5,6” solution that he won’t be pigeon-holed into overly simplistic funding schemes devoid of results. Instead, he carries in to 2017 and beyond a comprehensive plan loaded with foundational supports that have a track record.
This included a clear call for certification deregulation. There is no connection between the certification paper chase and quality. We are pleased to see Governor Ducey move his anti-regulation agenda precisely where it is most urgent: toward easing the flow of quality candidates into ready classrooms, and to letting those who can prepare teachers the ability to do so. His example of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as someone not qualified to teach civics in all Arizona classrooms is about as good as an illustration you can get of how broken our teacher certification system has become.
Voters insist that policy and resources lead to results. There is no longer an excuse to fund schools or programs that don’t work. We already know too much now about what can work, and today the governor astutely covered some of the tools principals and policymakers need in their toolbox.
However, for the governor’s plan to be fully realized, the State Board of Education must match his leadership and ensure a robust A-F school grading system that accurately shines a bright light on outcomes and understands how to measure those closing the achievement gap. Only then can this plan be truly dispatched with fidelity and its impact truly felt.
1 thought on “Hamer Times: Gov. Ducey’s 2017 State of the State: K-12 education results driven by teachers, resources and reforms”
Two things…..the $3.5 billion you identify as “new resources into K-12” is stealing “trust” money that was for the education of future generations. This is not new money.
Secondly, “policy and resources lead to results” can only be accurately measured when ALL public schools, including charter schools, are required to follow, without question, the EXACT same guidelines when it comes to the students who fill their seats. Currently, many charter schools boast of their accomplishments when the truth their success is dependent on screening mechanisms at enrollment and unwritten recommendations for students to find a “school that fits them better” when they don’t perform at the level the charter desires. In addition, you now have charters who are requiring parents of elementary school students to pay extra-curricular activity fees up to and exceeding the ECA tax credit allowed even though the school is in an area in which other public schools qualify for Title I.
Once the playing fields are level and enforceable, let the achievement games begin.