The five Cs that defined Arizona in the "old days" (the 50s and 60s) should give way to the new five Cs in education if our state is to retain its economic competitiveness and vitality.
The new Arizona educational five Cs should be as follows:
1. Compensation. We'll need to pay teachers more money than we're currently paying them if we are to attract and retain dedicated, inspiring, personable and professional educators into our schools.
2. Consolidate. We have too many "stand alone" elementary district (Pine Elementary for example) and too many small unified districts (Miami Unified for example) that need to be consolidated with neighboring districts to provide better educational opportunities for students and to maximize state dollars spent on education.
3. Calendar. We can no longer afford to have students attend 180-plus days of school per year while our global competitors are going to school 200 to 220 days per year. Shorter student vacations and increased teacher contracts (see No. 1 above) are all in our collective best interests.
4. Cooperate. Teachers (Arizona Education Association), administrators (Arizona School Administrators Association), the Arizona Department of Education, and the Arizona Legislature need to throw down the gauntlet and start cooperation for the betterment of education statewide. Blaming one another for real or imagined shortfalls in our educational system has led to acrimony and resulted in very few positive achievements over many years.
5. Continuing status change. If we pay teachers more (No. 1) and have students attend school longer (No. 3), we need to be able to assist underperforming teachers to teach better, and where necessary, terminate unproductive teachers without long, drawn-out hearings, court proceedings, etc. Perhaps increasing earned continuing status (tenure) to five to six years instead of three would help better determine those suited to teach in our schools versus those that should pursue a career doing something else. Freezing pay increases should be an option available if teachers and/or administrators are not performing adequately according to objective standards.
Are we capable of completing the new five Cs? Clearly, we either change the collective character of our schools or we risk cataclysmic and costly consequences this century and beyond.
Richard K. Meszar, Ed.D