In the midst of election season, as we are pulled in multiple directions for our vote, we need to look seriously at one of the election’s most important issues — education, and why it matters for Arizona’s future economic vitality.
Arizona is at a fork in the road.
One path leads us to staying where we are today: 74 percent of fourth-graders are below proficient in reading; 69 percent of eighth-graders are below proficient in math; 22 percent of high school students are not graduating on time; and a workforce is underprepared to compete in a global economy (Sources: 2011 NAEP Test results and Arizona Department of Education).
The other path focuses on raising expectations to deliver a world-class education for all Arizona students. This path provides the support necessary to prepare all students to succeed in college and career.
Arizonans have recently taken steps to move our education system in the right direction. As one example of a recent education reform, we’ve begun to transition to Arizona’s Common Core Standards, which are new, more rigorous standards in English and math for grades K-12. This year, they are being implemented in targeted grades and are expected to roll out to all others next year. The successful implementation of these standards moves us one step closer to ensuring that all of our students are ready to succeed in college, career and life and compete with their peers around the world for the best jobs.
Are the reforms we’ve made enough? Not yet, but they are a start down the right path.
Whether we succeed in raising expectations and improving outcomes for Arizona education depends on our public to make strategic investments in education that deliver a world-class education for all Arizona students regardless of ZIP code, ethnicity or special needs. As Arizonans, we have a shared responsibility to create the state, nation and world that we want. It starts with each of us and our support of students, educators and schools in our communities.
At Expect More Arizona, join us and many others in choosing that path of success for all Arizona students with our Vote 4 Education campaign, which is a statewide, non-partisan campaign that asks Arizonans to make education a priority when they vote.
Although voting for education can seem ambiguous, it is actually quite easy. Before you head to the polls on Tuesday, consider the following steps to voice your support for Arizona education.
1. Study up on Arizona’s education issues. Learn about the key education reforms that are being implemented, including Arizona’s Common Core Standards, Move on When Reading, and A-F school letter grades. Expect More Arizona provides four questions that you can use ask your friends, neighbors, family members, elected officials, candidates and community leaders, to educate yourself about the issues and to start a dialogue about the commitment needed to improve our education system.
2. Speak up. Join thousands of Arizonans statewide in sending a unified message that education is our top priority. Visit ExpectMoreArizona.org to find out how you can get involved and speak up for education.
3. Sign up to make a difference. Join the movement for world-class education at ExpectMoreArizona.org.
4. Show up on Nov. 6 and cast your ballot.
Working together we have the power to change the course of Arizona’s education system.
• Pearl Chang Esau is the president and CEO of Expect More Arizona, a high expectations movement dedicated to making Arizona education the best in the nation.