[Hpn] Kids giving up on system that has given up on them;Re: Arizonia Education System
Morgan W. Brown
Fri, 15 Jun 2001 10:37:06 -0400
Below is a forward of a guest opinion written by Arizona's superintendent of
public instruction which regards the Arizona education system in general:
-------Forwarded guest opinion-------
Friday, June 15, 2001
Guest opinion: Kids giving up on system that has given up on them
JAIME A. MOLERA
June 15, 2001
When Arizona leaders talk about the challenges facing our state's parents
and students, the debate is many times a competition of catch phrases and
sound bites. Unfortunately, too often, the real needs of Arizona's students
and their families are left out of the conversation.
Behind the rhetoric, a crisis is looming in the form of the state's stagnant
dropout rate. We face a crisis of confidence - students giving up on a
system that has given up on them.
Three weeks ago, I took on the job of improving Arizona's schools. I said
then and I'll say again that it's only when the entire community - parents,
students, educators and business leaders - are at the table and working
together that we can hope to support every school and every student.
Last month a new national survey cast a cold light on an ongoing breakdown
in our state's high schools.
The study said our dropout rate was the worst in the nation.
But the number is more tragic when you consider how it translates into lost
opportunities for countless students, families and teachers.
More troubling, the state Department of Education's statistics paint a
picture of a dropout rate that in the past several years simply has not
Change has been too long in coming.
When I was sworn in, I set forth three priorities that families and students
of this state share:
* Resolving the issues surrounding the AIMS test once and for all.
* Guaranteeing that Arizona schools teach every child to read by the end of
the third grade.
* Ensuring that more of our students can go on to higher education.
Those priorities offer a road map for our communities as we work to make a
dent in this intransigent statistic.
We know that the dropout rate is tied to what kind of foundation students
have. That is why I want our schools to emphasize early years, particularly
when it comes to reading, to identify programs and curriculums that work.
We also know that students who drop out are cutting themselves off from
higher education opportunities, whether a technical education, a community
college degree or a university degree. Every student should know that
opportunity is not reserved for a select few.
But when one examines state dropout statistics, one finds that
African-American students, Hispanic students and Native American students
drop out of high school at rates double or nearly double the rate for Anglo
students. We must say, as a community, that enough is enough.
That is why the department will look at high school programs that work and
be a resource for schools around the state. That is what voters had in mind
when they passed Proposition 301, the Education 2000 program, which offers
schools more resources to focus on dropout prevention.
It is also why we must continue to push all of our students to meet
Arizona's rigorous academic standards. They are standards that should
ensure, for example, that every high school student graduates knowing how to
figure a square root and the difference between the active and passive
Basic skills, yes, but important ones.
When we talk about the dropout rate, we have to acknowledge that we face
challenges in Arizona because of our geography and our rapid growth. But too
often, challenges become excuses and that is something we cannot accept.
We have tools such as the Stanford 9 and AIMS tests to make sure that
parents, students and educators know early what students need. While some
consider AIMS controversial, to me it reinforces the idea that every student
can learn and every student can meet the academic standards upon which we
We are working hard to see that questions around the test are resolved so
that we can focus once again on making sure our kids are learning.
Ultimately, fixing this dropout crisis happens one student at a time, one
teacher at a time, one conversation at a time. But it happens only when
families, teachers, education and business leaders, and others come
The state Department of Education will be here as a resource for local
schools, as a partner with the community and as strong advocate of high
That's the work that I'm going to do.
Alfred Lord Tennyson said, " 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world." No
student in this state should believe that he or she is last.
Jaime A. Molera is Arizona's superintendent of public instruction.
---End of forwarded published opinion---
Contact information for the Tucson Citizen:
Letters to the Editor:
~~~Related Web site:
Arizona Department of Education:
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Arizona Department of Education
1535 West Jefferson Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Tel: (602) 542-3813; (602) 542-4361
Fax: (602) 542-5440
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**
-------End of forward-------
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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