Friday, January 30, 2015

Arizona: "Big Mo" in Education?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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The AZ Capitol Times has an op ed, Arizona has ‘Big Mo’ in education. Not if by  "Big Mo," he means "Mo Money" that would give teachers the resources they need to maximize the education they give their students. The only momentum we have is digging ourselves deeper and deeper into an educational hole.

The op ed is written by Glenn Hamer, President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Hamer is building on Senate President Andy Biggs' statement that we need to pretend Arizona's schools are doing great so we can convince businesses to move here.
[Biggs] said Arizona provides “a good education,” though it may have “a ways to go.”

“But if you want to consistently say to business: ‘Hey, you know what? We have a crappy education system,’ you’re not helping the state, you’re not helping our education system, and you are hindering our economy."
Because, I guess, businesses don't do their own research when they relocate, so if the Chamber of Commerce and Andy Biggs say everything's wonderful with our education system, the business folks will say, "That's great," then they'll pack up their U Hauls and haul on over here.

Here's some of cheerleader Hamer's evidence that proves how great we're doing.
According to Quality Counts, Arizona is 4th in the nation in closing the reading gap among students who qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch. We’re 8th in the nation on fourth-grade math achievement gains. We’re 16th for eighth grade reading gains. These academic gains are more than just a blind squirrel finding a nut. We’re doing something right.
The problem is, Quality Counts gave Arizona's education a D+ overall. I checked the report to make sure I had that grade right, but I really didn't need to. Diane Douglas mentioned it in her State of Education speech. Oops.

Hamer, honest guy that he is, admits we're not perfect.
Of course, we can do better. But rather than simply criticize, our leaders should be working to accelerate improvement. A good start would be to embrace the types of reforms touted by Gov. Ducey, ensuring that all students, regardless of neighborhood, have access to our best public schools.
Sure, let's follow Gov. Ducey's lead in education, which was given a well deserved pounding in media outlets around the state. Great idea.

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