Douglas Aggressive in Arizona State of Education Address

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Arizona Superintendent of Public Education Diane Douglas gave her first State of Education address last week to the House Education Committee, proposing once again what she discussed throughout the election: repealing Common Core.

Douglas suggested that in place of the federal Common Core standards, standards specific to the state should be created that would be addressed during public meetings.  She said she would like to see parents involved in a discussion over what should be included in schools, rather than educators telling parents what will be included.  She also discussed her issues with high-stakes testing, saying they do not improve student achievement or teacher performance.

“The constant roller coaster of dramatic changes that has taken the focus off of educating children and placed it on change for the sake of change… once again our precious children are being used as guinea pigs to advance an education agenda. I call on this legislature and the Governor to stop the madness and start putting our children first,” said Diane Douglas.

However, not everyone agreed with the idea of putting an end to the federal standards, writes Jessica Flores for KSAZ.

“These are national standards that truly raise the bar, our schools have put in millions of dollars into this. Ironically she has mentioned continually changing. We’ve been working on this for years, to change now would cost our schools and the school districts millions… millions,” said Rep. Lisa Otondo.

Douglas also lamented Arizona’s National Education Ranking.  The state came in 47th in the recent Quality Counts report put out by Education Week.

She continued her speech by mentioning the dipping graduation rates in the state in comparison to last year.  Of those who did graduate high school, 60% needed remedial instruction once in college.  In addition, one-third of those who began college never finished.

Douglas said the state is “unable to attract and retain high quality teachers,” and that new teachers are leaving their professions “at alarming rates.”  The average teacher salary is ranked 42nd in the country.

“The current state of education in Arizona is poor,” she told the House Education Committee on Wednesday. “Too many Arizona children are not receiving the education they deserve – one that will prepare them to contribute to our great state and nation as active citizens and allow them to pursue their dreams and ambitions.”

One issue Douglas did not discuss was the current lawsuit in the state pertaining to education funding.  A judge recently ordered state lawmakers and education officials to come to an agreement regarding the subject, writes Laurie Roberts for AZCentral.

After a court ruled that the Legislature illegally failed to provide proper funding to public schools in the state during the recession, it was determined that the school system is owed $336 million in additional funding this year.  However, Governor Ducey has only included an additional $74 million into next year’s budget.