Having spent over 30 years in Arizona as a resident and as an educator, the State Board of Education's plan to 'label' schools as excelling, maintaining, improving, under performing, or failing conjures up feelings of disbelief, disappointment and disgust.
Governors, legislators and taxpayers have failed to adequately fund our Arizona schools for decades. We have been enthralled with tax cuts, and we've been very satisfied to consistently be in the bottom one-third for financial support of public education and for teacher salaries. We would rather berate our schools and educators for under performing or failing performances than admit that we have neglected to place public education funding at or near the top of our expenditure/investment ladder.
Many Arizonans want to be ranked in the top one-third in our country in educational spending and in student achievement, but humiliating students, schools, parents and educators won't bring any improvement in student achievement unless there is a commensurate investment in our schools.
The State Board of Education's 'labeling' plan will probably have some unintended consequences. Excellent students and teachers will flee schools 'labeled' as failing or under performing. Does anyone believe a takeover of a failing school by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) or any state agency will bring improvement to these schools? Please recall the debacle surrounding the AIMS tests brought to us by ADE and the alt-fuel fiasco brought to us by our legislature and governor.
Schools, students and teachers all need to improve, and we, the taxpayers of Arizona, need to bite the tax bullet and provide them with resources to hoist us out of our lower level funding hole. Until such a time as upper echelon funding exists, I've devised my own 'labeling' system concerning education in Arizona over the past three decades:
Governors and Legislators = Failing
Superintendents of Public Instruction and State Boards of Education = Under Performing
Arizona Taxpayers = Maintaining
Richard K. Meszar, Ed.D., Whispering Pines