Education- Where Are We?

Kranitz, Andrea for BlogAndrea Kranitz, Class 27
Owner/Consultant, Integrative Business Solutions, LLC

The Class 27 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

The members of class XXVII come from across the country and even across the pond!  We have all gone through some kind of educational system, whether public or private, but our experiences vary based upon where and when we were educated.

With each generation there have been changes in curriculum and teaching methods, reflecting our evolving world and the requirements to produce graduates who are prepared to compete successfully in a global economy.

The question is… are we collectively accomplishing that goal?

The answer depends partially upon how you define “we.”  According to Scottsdale Unified School District’s Dr. Andi Fourlis, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning and Dr. Dave McNeil, Executive Director for Elementary Schools and Assessment, Scottsdale schools are doing well.  Comparing SUSD graduation rates, per pupil spending, and student teacher ratios, they are consistently ranking above the state average (detailed information on these rankings).

Despite a reduction in state funding, SUSD continues to provide an excellent education. That said, we are only one of many districts across the state and country. According to Dr. Eric Meyer, AZ State Representative, District 11 and SUSD School Board member, as a nation our teacher salaries are on the high end as compared with other nations, while our Global Math and Science ratings along with high school graduation rates are in the bottom third (detailed information on these rates).

This is not a new trend, but it is a frightening one.  If we want to maintain strong communities, states and a strong nation we must emphasize the importance of education so that our students can compete with those of other nations.

There is a state-led initiative called The Common Core State Standards coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Offices.  These standards define the knowledge and skills students should acquire from their K-12 education so that they can succeed in post-secondary education and future careers.

To date, including Arizona, 45 of 50 states have adopted these standards, but the initiative is only partially funded, so there are challenges to successful implementation.  Although this is a step in the right direction, I believe that we have to do more.

We also heard from a panel of students and educators from the district who emphasized the importance of student/teacher mentorship, engagement, extracurricular activity and parental involvement in maintaining an engaged student body.  The two students who spoke to us were great examples of what is possible-we need to make this more a rule than exception.

There are so many factors that have contributed to the alarming trends in education including but not limited to funding issues, decrease in support of arts education, poverty trends along with an decrease focus on education in the lives of our youth.

SO… what are we missing and how can we reverse the trends in order to graduate top notch students who are equipped to succeed?

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