Tour Updates


July 21st, 2017

Whiteriver and Holbrook Meetings a Success

Image: American flag against light blue painted wall. A gold emblem on the wall that reads Holbrook Unified School District in a circle. There is a gold roadrunner in the center of the circle. To the right of the American flag is the phrase Helping Unique Students Develop. The first letter of each word is red to spell out HUSD.

The We Are Listening Tour visited Whiteriver and Holbrook Unified School Districts on Tuesday, July 18, and Wednesday, July 19, 2017, respectively. Both communities took the opportunity to #BeHeardAZ and engaged in dynamic K-12 education discussions with Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas.

Whiteriver USD Superintendent Rea Goklish attended Tuesday evening’s event and Holbrook USD Superintendent Robert Koerperich attended Wednesday’s. The Tuesday meeting in Whiteriver was also blessed with attendance by White Mountain Apache Tribe Chairman Ronnie Lupe and several members of the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council.

The Whiteriver meeting’s discussion covered a range of topics, with consistent emphasis on teacher salaries, including the expansion and extension of Proposition 301. Attendees also spoke about the importance of cultural preservation for students, cultural transition for new teachers, and teacher mentorship programs.

group photo
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas and White Mountain Apache Tribal Chairman Ronnie Lupe stand with White Mountain Apache Tribal Council members and Jerold Altaha (far left) and Arnold Beach, Sr. (far right).

The Holbrook meeting also addressed the critical need for increases to teacher salaries, but citizens were particularly interested in the new Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative. The broadband grant is available to school districts interested in acquiring broadband access for their schools. The broadband service would also significantly help hospitals, libraries, and businesses of those districts as well. More information is available on the agency’s Broadband website.

The We Are Listening Tour will take a temporary break in August to allow time for back-to-school activities, resuming in September. Dates and locations will be posted to the #BeHeardAZ website as they are confirmed.

Posted in Tour Updates |
July 7th, 2017

Pima County Welcomed Opportunities to #BeHeardAZ

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When we think of June, most people rarely think ‘education.’ But that is exactly what more than 100 people were thinking Tuesday and Wednesday night in Tucson, Arizona.

Be Heard AZ! That was the theme of both nights as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas sat with Pima County citizens, education officials, teachers, principals, and school board members during the fourth and fifth stop during her annual We Are Listening Tour.

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) staff asked only one question: “What do you need for the education of your children?” Pima County knew exactly what they needed, and they weren’t afraid to let ADE know.

At the Tuesday night meeting, ADE staff was honored to have Pima County Superintendent of Schools Dustin Williams join Superintendent Douglas to answer questions or give unique insight from the county level. The meeting was held at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort Tuesday evening in order to not only give an opportunity to voice concerns or ideas for education to Tucson citizens but those attending the annual Teachers’ Institute Conference being held there as well.

Several speakers shared their personal stories, but also spoke broadly about considerations from school, district, and state levels. They had ideas for how they would like to see well-known issues such as teacher shortages and salary increases to support programs addressed. Partnership between ADE and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) was discussed with an emphasis on strengthening those ties. Family and parental involvement in education was an area of much discussion.

The Wednesday meeting had ADE at the Vail Innovation Center in Vail School District, which is located in the south Tucson area. It also saw to a packed room where district staff had to hurriedly bring out additional chairs to seat the abundance of attendees. Superintendent Douglas presented Vail School District Assistant Superintendent John Carruth with a certificate of recognition for the district’s hospitality in hosting the meeting, giving ADE an opportunity to hear directly from the people we serve: Arizona’s citizens. Board members from several neighboring districts, as well as neighboring counties’ districts, joined us for the event, speaking little but listening intently.

But the room wasn’t quiet. Teachers, principals, and parents spoke turn after turn, each discussing their needs, expressing their concerns over various issues, sharing stories from their own unique lives. Teacher salaries and retention issues were talked about, as ADE knows is a common topic in Arizona, but other topics like gifted education, dyslexia, and the new English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Standards took more center stage than the previous night’s topics.

As with the three meetings already held in the greater Phoenix area to hear from citizens, ADE was reminded again this month of the very different concerns and needs people living in relatively close proximity may have. Another reason we look forward to traveling each month to various area’s throughout the state to allow our citizens the opportunity to Be Heard AZ. To learn more about the #BeHeardAZ campaign and where additional We Are Listening Tour meetings will be held, please visit www.azed.gov/beheardAZ. Individuals from around the state can also participate via Twitter using #BeHeardAZ and watch ADE’s livestream of the meetings if they are unable to attend, as well as contribute suggestions or comments at [email protected]

Posted in Latest News, Tour Updates |
June 21st, 2017

Pima County Makes Itself Heard

Tucson Listening Tour

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.

Posted in Tour Updates |
May 18th, 2017

#BeHeardAZ – We Are Listening Tour Has Successful Kick Off

A Z Kids Can't Wait

The third annual We Are Listening Tour kicked off Monday, May 15, 2017 at Phoenix Union High School District Office. With nearly a full capacity room, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas delivered a brief overview of the work the Arizona Department of Education has done, recent changes to education law from the recent Arizona Legislative season, and then opened the floor for public comment. Arizonans from every walk of life, including many who did not live in Phoenix or have children who attended Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD), attended and spoke. Senator Katie Hobbs (LD-24) and PUHSD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Althe Allen joined Superintendent Douglas on the panel to address any questions or to give additional insight from legislature and district.

To watch Monday’s meeting, visit https://youtu.be/Ld0VfCQ3i8E.

A second meeting was held at Deer Valley Unified School District Office on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) Superintendent James Veitenheimer attended, as well assorted board members from DVUSD and neighboring school districts. Once more, the room neared capacity as citizens discussed education policies one-on-one with Superintendent Douglas. Arizonans who were not able to attend the meeting in person participated via Twitter using #BeHeardAZ.

To watch Tuesday’s meeting, visit https://youtu.be/FAE0GxMPXbc.

The third and final scheduled meeting for May was held at the Verna McClain Wellness Center in the Roosevelt Elementary School District (RESD) on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. RESD Superintendent Jeanne Koba and School Board President Norma Munoz joined the meeting to represent the district and give feedback from the district level. Arizonans participated in the meeting both in person and via our live YouTube stream and Twitter.

To watch Wednesday’s meeting, visit https://youtu.be/KeWyP4Lv31U.

Many K-12 education topics were covered, including teacher salaries, charter schools, standards vs curriculum, and culturally inclusive education practices and instruction. All comments were recorded and will be used to direct education policy under the AZ Kids Can’t Wait! education plan releasing later this year. To read the 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan, visit http://www.azed.gov/beheardaz/azkids/.

June meetings will be held in Tucson, AZ on June 13 and 14, 2017. Additional details to come.

Posted in Latest News, Tour Updates |