Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce public policy members hosted Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal during Friday’s meeting, where he spoke about the different waves of education from a state and national level.
Some of the key initiatives Huppenthal addressed during the meeting were school choice in Arizona, Common Core Standards, teacher accountability and school support system.
“You couldn’t describe a more turbulent time in education history than we have right now here in Arizona and across the entire nation,” Huppenthal said.
He said since 1992 there has been a strong movement in school choice across Arizona, with the state being No. 1 in the nation in regards to school choice.
“Since we started school choice, our regular public and district schools have grown by over 40 percent,” he said. “There’s been growth of teachers and students almost like no other state in the nation.”
With school choice increasing at a state-wide level, Huppenthal feels that it’s a key component to decreasing crime.
“Long ago we predicted that we would first see the benefits of school choice in our social indicators. Back in 2005, we had 50,000 cars stolen in Arizona. Today, that stands at 18,000,” Huppenthal said. “People who should be in school steal about 20 to 30 percent of them… crime is crashing down to an unbelievable extent and we attribute that part to engaging students.”
School accountability was also addressed by Huppenthal. He said parents were moving their children to schools that were ranked higher academically.
“There is a steady migration of parents that are moving from C school to B schools and from B schools to A schools,” Huppenthal said. “It gives parents a signal on where their children might get a better education, and motivates schools to move up that letter to that A category.”
School accountability also parallels with teacher accountability where more and more teachers across the state are given positive reinforcement on how to influence their students in the classrooms.
“We are now $300 per student below the national average on administrative cost in Arizona, so that’s $300 million returned into the classroom,” Huppenthal said.
He also addressed career and technical education to audience members, which he believes opens students to pursue a secondary education.
Anne Gill, president and chief executive officer of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce, said Huppenthal has been implementing good programs in schools to improve education throughout Arizona.
“Hopefully it will lead to more jobs and business coming to the area,” she said. “We have excellent schools and we are so lucky to have them in our area.”
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