Great Leaders, Strong Schools CEO Emily Anne Gullickson recently joined Yes. Every Kid. on a plan about innovation underway in Arizona. This Morning Scoop panel, hosted by the Arizona Capitol Times, also featured A for Arizona governing board members and Expansion & Innovation Fund Vetting Committee members.
Educators will often point out that when time and resources are constant, as in the traditional educational system, learning is the variable. But a current effort at the Arizona Legislature recognizes this reality and seeks to correct it by allowing flexibility in how schools account for time. This flexibility will, in turn, unbridle technology resources and make learning the constant - and at a very high level. House Bill 2862 would allow public school districts to offer a mastery-based model of instruction, which is an instructional approach where students need to demonstrate a deep level of understanding of a topic or subject area before progressing onto another topic or subject area.
Nearly a year into the COVID-19 crisis, communities across the country are challenging long-held assumptions about public education, including the role of district boundaries in shaping everything from funding to educational opportunities. In an era of increasing customization and technological resources — and in a moment where students log on to classes remotely and parents are disagreeing on school reopening strategies — the absurdity of assigning kids to schools based on arbitrary and often unfair lines is more apparent than ever.
Education in Arizona was far from perfect before the pandemic…. But the picture wasn’t all doom and gloom. Data compiled by Stanford University show that while many states were stagnant or regressing academically pre-pandemic, Arizona was growing, and in some counties and schools, by nation-leading leaps. There were gains all over Arizona through 2018, in rural and inner-city schools, among poor students and students of color.
Navigating Arizona’s Public School open enrollment process for my children has been confusing and frustrating for years. Nine years ago, I applied for a variance with three central Phoenix school districts so that my daughters could go to school near where I worked. My older daughter received a variance; my younger daughter did not. Although they are in different grades, the reason was clear – my younger daughter requires special education resources, and the three districts were afraid to receive her.
A bill to provide transportation for students to attend public schools outside of their assigned campus cleared its first hurdle at the Arizona Senate. The Senate Education Committee approved the bill, Senate Bill 1683, which would establish a $10 million fund to provide grants to public schools and municipalities to provide safe and reliable transportation for open enrollment and charter school students. Parents also could receive monthly stipends for driving and mass transit costs.
In 1939, representatives from 48 states developed a set of school bus standards resulting in a massive standardization of school transit systems in America. Last year, 26 million students in the United States boarded nearly 480,000 yellow school buses to go to their public school.
A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, state lawmakers across the country are introducing legislation aimed at empowering families who are seeking out educations that best suit their children, regardless of school attendance zones. In Arizona, state senators recently introduced two bills intended to remove barriers preventing public school students from attending schools outside of their residentially assigned school districts and to help students more easily find transportation to their schools of choice. The well-intentioned legislation could be successful in achieving these goals, but there are a few things policymakers should be mindful of.
Many American families have few options outside of their residentially assigned schools, but it doesn’t have to be this way. One way policymakers can put parents in the driver’s seat is through a form of public school choice that everyone can get on board with — inter-district school choice, which allows families to enroll in schools across district boundaries.
Arizona's Governor on Monday, Jan. 11 expressed the need for students to head back into classrooms in his State of the State address. Great Leaders Strong Schools President and Founder Emily Anne Gullickson applauded his leadership.