You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher. The same old adage can probably be applied to so many of us, no matter our calling, but I know this to be especially true of my colleagues.
Certainly, as the years go by, we may not be able to remember the name of each and every student we taught, but a teacher, even a retired one, never stops thinking about his or her students and hoping for their success. Every day, teachers witness and experience the power of impacting young people; when we help create strong, successful students, we are not only impacting their future, but also the future of our entire society.
We are all affected by and responsible for the continued growth of our young people, and for leaving the world better off for those who stand to inherit it. For many years, we have been proud to be able to say that we have accomplished this, but it is no longer true. The generations following ours are facing economic and employment instability. When our young adults leave school, many of them aren’t prepared for college or careers and the technological changes requiring very different skills of the workforce. Most jobs in Arizona — more than eight out of 10 in high growth, high wage fields — currently require some type of postsecondary education or training that demands these higher-level skills, yet we are not preparing our students for this new reality.
For our students to be successful in the workforce, competitive in the ever-growing global economy and positive contributors to our local communities, we must ensure our students have the best education we can provide for them. Arizona’s new standards help us fulfill this obligation by raising expectations for all students and by fostering independent critical thinkers who are flexible in their analyses and problem solving skills. Supporting Arizona’s efforts to implement higher academic standards for students through Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards (based on the Common Core State Standards) is vital to the success of our community as a whole.
As retirees, we may not be interacting with today’s students as directly as we once were, but ensuring their success as they enter the workforce will always remain a priority for us. We will rely on these young people in a few short years. They are the professionals who will help rebuild the strong economy that we toiled so hard to build and maintain ourselves. We may have retired from our positions, but we will never retire from our profession, or from advocating for a quality public education for all of Arizona’s students. The vehicle that will help to prepare our students for future success is Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.
• Linda Somo is the current president of Arizona Education Association (AEA)-retired.