Tag Archives: education

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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Education in Arizona

Scottsdale Leadership, Katherine Yu

Jessica Zambo and Katherine Yu at Coronado High School

Katherine Yu, Class 25 Class Blogger
Sr. Scientist – Henkel Consumer Goods Inc.

The Class 25 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s seventeen core program days.  The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

Education is one of the most vast and complex issues that face our community, and the fact remains that there are no clear cut resolutions. On this Scottsdale Leadership program day we were able to listen to many perspectives regarding education. There were few aspects where I could see where groups were aligned and fewer where solutions were agreed upon. However, there are some things that are indisputable to all groups. Education is important; it provides a foundation for individuals and our community; it is changing at a rapid pace, faster than even we can comprehend; and finally, reform is necessary. What shape or form this change will take is unknown, but change is imminent.

Education in Arizona affects everyone. As cliché as it sounds, the children are our future. The next generations will be our future workforce, community stewards, policy makers, and leaders. We need to be sure that our young people are prepared and have the skills necessary for the real world. How can we be sure that we are doing our best to guide them, mentor them, and provide for them? How do we know they are ready? What do they need to know?

One undeniable area which our young people must be proficient in is technology. Technology has infiltrated our everyday lives. Electronic devices are no longer luxuries, but necessities to be prepared for the 21st century. Kids are learning differently with access to information, globalization, exposure to languages, cultures, and (every parent’s nightmare) social networking. As parents, teachers, and mentors, we need to make sure our young people have access and are proficient in using technology.

Lastly, it is clear that reform is necessary. The “finance puzzle”, as Dr. David Peterson so skillfully articulated, needs to be solved. An outdated, decades-old funding formula cannot be used today. Making schools choose between teachers and arts programs, or between staff and all-day Kindergarten, is plainly not acceptable. Incentives and motivation to excel are vital. Accountability is key from our students, teachers, administrators, parents, and communities.

Obviously we care for our children and we understand the importance of education. Scottsdale Unified School District superintendent Dr. Gary Catalani was certainly inspiring with his vision for the Education community. Certainly change starts with strong leadership, and certainly change will not occur overnight. My certainties end here.

What do you think will ignite change for the betterment of Arizona’s educational system?

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Beep Beep…Tour de Scottsdale!

By SUZANNE PAETZER
2009 Scottsdale Leadership Class Reporter

The Scottsdale Leadership Experience

This is the sixth of a 17 article series recapping Scottsdale Leadership’s nine-month Core Program. The program educates, connects and empowers citizens who are interested in community leadership.

Is it possible to see all of Scottsdale in a day? No. But class 24 members were up for the challenge to strengthen our historical and geographical perspective on History and Bus Tour Day held on November 20, 2009.

Scottsdale, The West’s Most Western, town incorporated as a city on June 25, 1951. Scottsdale’s downtown was only one square mile radius! We have Winfield Scott to thank for finding this oasis in the west in 1888. The first mayor, Malcolm White had plenty to do with a population of about 2,000.

To read the rest of Suzanne’s blog click here.

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The Challenge: Education

By SUZANNE PAETZER
2009 Scottsdale Leadership Class Reporter

The Scottsdale Leadership Experience
This is the third of a 17 article series recapping Scottsdale Leadership’s nine-month Core Program. The program educates, connects and empowers citizens who are interested in community leadership.

Enlightening, confusing and compelling all in one – Education Day, October 9th. From kindergarten to post-college graduate studies, Scottsdale Leadership Class 24 members discovered that Scottsdale has much to offer. The Education Formula seems simple…high expectations that all children can learn + high quality teachers and curriculum + involved parents and community + college = career-ready leaders that are competitive and prosperous with the world! But how do we make this happen?

To read the rest of Suzanne’s blog click here.

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