Arizona's Five ‘C's revised.
The five C's that Arizona used to identify itself with in the last half of the 20th century were cattle, citrus, climate, copper, and cotton. For the first half of the 21st century in Arizona, I'm recommending the following new five C's to identify our state and to improve our schools for our most important resource ... our students.
1. CASH. We absolutely have to pay our current and future teachers more if we have any hope of overall improvement in our educational system. A starting salary of around $40,000 per year is not unrealistic for attraction and retention purposes. We really do get what we pay for.
2. CHANGE: Three straight years of successful teaching should not be a ticket to a lifetime position and tenure. Commensurate with No.1 above, a restructuring of the tenure law is needed to keep proficient teachers and to eliminate incompetent (regardless of their length of service) teachers. Extending tenure to five years with a complete tenure review every three years is not unreasonable.
3. CONSOLIDATE: There are too many ‘stand alone' elementary and union high school districts in our state. Also, there are too many smaller unified districts in very close proximity to one another that could offer a more comprehensive curriculum and education to their students (our students) if they merged.
4. CAPITULATE: Give up on the AIMS test as a graduation requirement. Use it as a progress and diagnostic tool, but use the money and energy we're expending on it to better education across the board. Let's test all of our students, but use the grades throughout four years of high school to determine graduation rates. A tuition waiver or reduction for those passing all phases of AIMS would be an incentive to take and do well on the tests.
5. COOPERATE: Not much change will take place in our classrooms state-wide from external pressure/ sources. Enlist the aid of the Arizona Education Association (AEA) to structure an improvement plan that teachers themselves have a ‘buy-in' to and that they can agree upon to implement.
Here are the five ‘new C's' for the betterment of education in Arizona. Will we be able to see our way clearly to address and enact any or all of these recommendations? Only time will tell, but let's not wait until the second half of the 21st century for action.
Richard K. Meszar, Ed.D., Payson