WALT 2017 — Tucson and Vail
“Be heard Arizona!” was the directive and Pima County took it to heart. More than one hundred people attended the Tucson and Vail stops on Superintendent Diane Douglas’ 2017 We Are Listening Tour. Held on June 13 and June 14, respectively, the public meetings attracted concerned citizens, parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members. When asked, “What do you need for the education of your children?”, these Pima County residents knew exactly how to answer.
Tuesday evening’s meeting was held in conjunction with the agency’s Teachers’ Institute conference at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in southwest Tucson. Pima County’s newly elected superintendent of schools, Dustin Williams, joined Superintendent Douglas for the event. While the superintendents spent time answering questions and offering insights into education policies, they spent most of their time listening.
Participants related personal stories and shared concerns about a variety of educational issues at the school, district, and state level. A number of people spoke about the state’s teacher shortage and salary increases, even offering specific recommendations and strategies for addressing these issues. An administrator from northeast Arizona asked ADE to strengthen its partnership with schools supported by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). The evening concluded with a lively discussion of parental (familial) involvement in their children’s education.
Wednesday evening’s meeting attracted so many attendees to the Vail Innovation Center that district staff had to bring in more chairs to seat everyone. Superintendent Douglas presented Vail School District Assistant Superintendent John Carruth with a certificate of recognition for the district’s hospitality. They were joined by school board members from neighboring districts—even from neighboring counties—all of whom intently listened to the participants as they spoke.
And speak they did. One after another, parents and educators took the opportunity to tell leaders exactly what they need to educate the children of Arizona. Through personal stories and pointed questions, speakers shared their concerns on gifted education, dyslexia, the new ELA and mathematics standards, as well as teacher retention and salary stagnation. As always, Superintendent Douglas truly appreciated the opportunity to meet and hear from citizens committed to improving Arizona education.
Pima County made itself heard and so you can you. Check the We Are Listening Tour schedule to attend one of the upcoming public meetings. Each meeting is streamed live on ADE’s YouTube channel and questions can be submitted via Twitter using #BeHeardAZ. Between meetings, you can always make your voice heard by submitting comments via email.