Arizona’s Gov. Brewer Calls for More Accountability in Education

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is calling on lawmakers to make school performance a factor in determining education funding, the East Valley Tribune reports. She said that this would be a way to send money to places that have the most success educating students rather than continue to waste funds on underperforming schools.

Brewer brought up the idea in her 2013 State of the State address that is traditionally delivered at the opening of the each year's legislative session. She did not offer specifics on how the funding formula might be altered, but said schools that have shown steady improvement in student standardized test scores, or that consistently produce these levels of scores, should be rewarded not and stiffed in favor of schools that don't.

She said that the current system, which relies almost entirely on attendance numbers can not effectively drive achievement.

Education was a big part of an address that also had Brewer calling for increased funding for Child Protective Services and simplifying the state's sales tax system for businesses and saying she supports expanding the state's Medicaid system under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Saying schools must keep pace with the demands of global competition, Brewer said Arizona has taken a big step toward that by adopting Common Core Standards that must be fully implemented by next school year.

As she has on many occasions before, Brewer once again said that the key to improved student outcomes is accountability. When schools are failing, both lawmakers and parents deserve to know that. Families stuck in a district with poor public schools also deserve access to other, superior, education options for their children.

Brewer also mentioned the Newtown tragedy, saying that lawmakers must take common sense steps to protect schools in Arizona. She said that while not locking them down like fortresses is important, additional money will need to be made available for hiring extra security.

Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, the House minority leader, said afterward that he was "encouraged" by Brewer's comments on school safety. He released a plan last week that also called for more school resource officers. However, both Campbell and Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix, the Senate minority leader, said curbing gun violence will require increased funding for mental health services.

"Quite frankly, I don't see having a true conversation about making sure we have school safety and safety in generally without making sure that we touch upon mental health," Landrum Taylor said.

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