Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More signs of a state education system in freefall

Republican hearts all over the state were gladdened this week with the publishing of a couple of stories related to Arizona's underfunded public education system (49th or 50th in per pupil funding, 51st if the District of Columbia is included in the stats!).

From the Cronkite News Service, via Arizona Capitol Times -
Arizona school districts struggle to keep superintendents

By Melanie Kiser, Cronkite News Service

Published: July 12, 2010 at 11:48 am

When Elizabeth Celania-Fagen signed on as the superintendent of Arizona’s second-largest school district in 2008, she said she planned to raise her family in Tucson and serve at least five to 10 years.


Ann-Eve Pedersen, a TUSD parent and president of the Arizona Education Network, a nonprofit group that advocates for public school students and educates the public about education issues, said the departure points to a much bigger problem.

“If we’re a state where funding is so low that we are driving out good superintendents and good principals and good teachers and we can’t attract those folks, then that is very bad news for the overall quality of education in our state,” she said.

Superintendents in Arizona have long earned less than counterparts across the country while confronting levels of spending per student that rank among the nation’s lowest, according to a number of state and national associations and government agencies.

Deep cuts to public education funding have spread resources even thinner in recent years.

A Cronkite News Service review of 94 superintendents’ contracts in districts with about 1,000 or more students found 40 in the first two years of their superintendency. At least nine districts will get new chiefs this summer.

“This is unusually high,” said Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, or AASA.
 That was followed today with this story from the Arizona Republic -

Arizona students still lag in science on AIMS exam

Many Arizona educators are about as enthused over the state's standardized science test as the 53,300 sophomores who took them last spring.

Three years of AIMS science scores indicate that just over a third of Arizona students are learning the science concepts the state says they should by 10th grade.

The latest AIMS figures, being released today, show that only 35 percent of 10th-graders passed the AIMS science exam in the spring. That's slightly better than the 33 percent last year and the 32 percent the year before.

The 2010 AIMS Results can be downloaded from the website of the Arizona Department of Education.  It's there as a spreadsheet, so I cannot link directly to the report.

The constant, crushing, pressure on public school funding and the academic viability from the Republicans is paying off - the system is failing to educate students, and the people who could best lead a turnaround are being forced from the state.

Welcome to Arizona in the 19th 20th 21st century. 

It doesn't have to be that way, though - contribute to or volunteer with the Arizona Democratic Party.

Help change the makeup of the Arizona Legislature, and help change Arizona's education system.

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