School, Law Enforcement and Health Officials Work Together
On Thursday, June 14th, the Arizona Department of Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, and the Arizona Department of Health Services coordinated an active shooter training event for Arizona school officials.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas opened the event. “We have all seen the devastating impact to students, parents, schools and communities that have experienced school shooter tragedies. Thankfully, we have not had a mass school shooting in Arizona. We must still remain vigilant,” said Douglas. “I am encouraged that so many of our school, law enforcement and healthcare leaders from across our state came together to be better prepared, and hopefully even find ways to prevent such an event.”
More than one hundred and fifty participants from across the state attended including, School Superintendents, Police Chiefs, Firefighters, Psychologists, Tribal Leaders, Public Health and Hospital staff and the Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Colonel Frank Milstead. The event included a two-hour superintendent-level-training focused on active shooter and mass casualty events, followed by law enforcement current affairs briefing, behavioral health aspects of school shootings, and an open discussion.
Pizza Camp was the kick-off for this year’s Arizona Summer Feeding Program on Thursday, June 14th from 1-2pm at Chief Hill Learning Academy in Chandler. The Dairy Council of Arizona awarded a total of $20,000 in grants to the Summer Feeding Program to celebrate June’s Dairy Month. The Chandler Unified School District was one of 32 programs to receive $2,000 of this total to help feed children who would otherwise go hungry when out of school.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas was on hand, along with The Arizona Diamondback’s organist Bobby Freeman and alumni player Kelly Stinnett, as well as the folks at the Dairy Council of Arizona and the Chandler Firefighters to help make pizzas. The groups interacted with 50+ hungry kids, as they made their own pizzas and watched the dough being hand-tossed by pizza professionals before baking them in a state-of-the-art conveyor pizza oven.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally funded child nutrition program which was established to ensure low-income children, ages 18 and younger, continue to have an opportunity to receive nutritious means when school in not in session. In Arizona, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), Health and Nutrition Services division, directly administers the program.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, noted that the Summer Food Services Program (SFSP) has begun.
“Many low-income families depend on the free and reduced meals that are served during the school year,” said Superintendent Douglas. “No child in Arizona should suffer from food insecurity just because school is out of session. That’s why the Summer Food Services Program is so important.”
So far, one thousand and fifty-five (1,155) SFSP sites have been approved in the State of Arizona. This is an increase over last year’s total of one thousand and seventy-three (1,073). As with every summer, additional SFSP sites are added through the summer. Some of the sites are already opened, others will open soon. The sites will remain open through the first week in August.
Last year, during the summer of 2017, more than 3.1 Million meals were served at SFSP sites in Arizona. With the increase in sites, it is anticipated that even more meals will be served. The majority of sites serve breakfast and lunch. Some also serve dinner and/or snacks.
To find a Summer Food Program site near you and find out their address, times of operation and which meals are served, please follow this link to the interactive map: www.azhealthzone.org/summerfood/
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas proudly announced an agreement between the Governor Doug Ducey’s Office of Education and the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to provide partial fee subsidies for low-income students accessing Advanced Placement (AP) tests, International Baccalaureate (IB) exams and Cambridge International Examinations in the spring of 2018.
“I am grateful to Governor Ducey and the Governor’s Office of Education for providing us with additional funding to help us support these outstanding and ambitious students,” Superintendent Douglas said. “I never want to see students struggle to achieve their potential because they cannot afford to take the exams for courses in which they excel. This agreement provides students the opportunity to challenge themselves academically and earn college credit, without burdening themselves or their families financially.”
The interagency agreement was inspired by the Governor’s Achieve60AZ postsecondary attainment goal, which strives to ensure that 60 percent of working adults in Arizona have a certificate or college degree by 2030. Since students exposed to higher learning opportunities such as advanced placement classes, dual enrollment and early college experiences are more likely to pursue a postsecondary education, this initiative intends to increase the number of college graduates, as well as create a more diverse, knowledgeable and innovative workforce in Arizona.
Schools began learning how to access these resources to support their students from ADE in March. For more information on the grant, please visit www.azed.gov/advanced-placement/.
The United States Department of Defense has informed the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) that it is one of the states honored as a 2018 recipient of the Troops to Teachers Grant award. The mission of the Troops to Teachers Program is to assist current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces in beginning a new career as a public school teacher.
“I could not be any more delighted that the state of Arizona is a recipient of this prestigious grant,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said. “I have enormous admiration and respect for our military personnel, so I hope this grant will encourage more military members to make the transition from one honorable professional to another. Military service members have accumulated a number of life skills that would prove invaluable in the classroom.”
The grant will provide ADE with a dedicated staff position and overhead for the Troops to Teachers Program over the next five years, totaling $735,513.00. Former ADE Legislative Liaison and current Arizona National Guard member Nick LeFevre wrote the grant application, while ADE Deputy Associate Superintendent of Educator Excellence Keith Snyder will manage the program out of the Certification Unit.
Snyder spent 11 years as an active member of the U.S. Army, serving in Fort Huachuca, Fort Hood, Germany and Kuwait. After being honorably discharged from the military, Snyder transitioned into becoming a public school teacher and administrator, serving as an example of the type of candidate this program intends to attract.
“Our hope is that this grant will provide another avenue for combating our current teacher shortage in Arizona,” Snyder said. “Former military members offer a unique set of skills that are instrumental for teachers to possess. Teamwork, adaptability, time management, learning to prioritize tasks and developing an environment of respect are all abilities that are developed in the military, but would also be tremendously utilized by a teacher.”
Congress enacted the Troops to Teachers Program in 1993, placing the initiative underneath the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) of the U.S. Department of Defense. The goal of the program is to reach 500 service members by visiting each active duty military base at least once per quarter.
This past Tuesday (May 8), the U.S. Department of Education released the names of this year’s U.S. Presidential Scholars. Arizona is home to three of these amazing high school students: Seoyoon Kim, Aditya Sivakumar, and Lana H. Mohamed. Mr. Kim and Ms. Sivakumar were selected to fill Arizona allotted slots and Ms. Mohamed was chosen as one of only 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education nationwide.
View an interview with Ms. Mohamed and read more about the program below.
The Foster Care Education program proudly concluded the K-6th Grade Student Artwork Foster Care Awareness Showcase with a successful show on May 4, 2018, as part of Phoenix’s monthly First Friday art walk.
Almost 200 elementary school students from all over Arizona submitted artwork designed around the Foster Care Education program’s logo, which features the words Hope, Strength, Resilience, and Learning. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas selected for award four pieces that she found to be the most inspiring, but expressed her admiration for all of the artwork.
(Phoenix, Ariz., May 3, 2018) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction applauded the passage of the State Education budget today.
“I want to commend the Legislature and the Governor for working hard, under difficult circumstances, to pass a budget that makes significant improvements for Arizona students and schools,” said Superintendent Douglas. “Many goals outlined in my State of Education address were achieved.”
Fulfilling her state constitutional role, Superintendent Douglas delivered her Arizona State of Education address last January. Among the goals she outlined in the address were:
Acting sooner rather than later on the expiration of Prop 301 to avoid a fiscal cliff
Getting better pay for teachers – she proposed an eleven-percent (11%) increase
Making sure schools have funding for facilities
Vital ongoing IT funding for the state student information system AZEDS
“Prop 301 was extended in a bi-partisan fashion, avoiding a fiscal cliff. Teachers will see a twenty-percent (20%) pay increase over the next three years. There will also be a more than three-hundred and fifty million dollar ($ 350 Million) increase to the additional assistance fund – that helps schools with facilities and raises for support staff,” said Superintendent Douglas. “We also have ongoing IT funding, that is needed to maintain our student information system. These were all important victories for our students and schools.”
“Over the past several years,” observed Superintendent Douglas, “we have turned the large ship of Arizona Education in a better direction. Common Core standards have been replaced. Teachers and support staff will be getting meaningful raises. There will be more money for facilities. Most of our IT systems have been moved into the twenty-first century.”
“Make no mistake, there is still much work to do,” continued Douglas. “We are in the process of updating our Science and Social Science and History standards. Our School Finance IT system is on an operating system that is antiquated and must be addressed. I am optimistic that those are challenges we can meet in the future. I feel we have made great strides towards the world class education system we want and that Arizona parents and students deserve.”
The new updated draft standards for Science, History and Social Science (which include Civics, Economics and Geography) are out right now for public review. I would encourage all of you to review them in detail and comment on language that should remain unchanged and where changes would be beneficial. You can make your comments on the ADE website:
All comments, along with independent third-party content expert reviews will be used to determine changes before the final draft is presented to the State Board of Education for approval in the Fall of 2018. The standards review process is long and thorough even prior to the development of the drafts. In addition, the public now has 60 days to comment, followed by a period to incorporate those comments.
A little clarification on the process. Every year staff at ADE work with the public and form work groups to review and develop an initial draft on whichever standards are under review for that cycle. This cycle there were two groups, one for Science standards and one for History and Social Science standards. After that group completes its work, the process is internally reviewed. Both staff and the Superintendent of Public Instruction weigh in on any changes they deem necessary before presentation to the Board and the public for comments.
After almost 60 visits around the state, the input I have received is that the public wants more stringent and rigorous standards, not just vague or high level conceptual frameworks. As a result, we reached out to various staff and organizations, including Hillsdale College, to add depth to the work of the initial working groups. All the work of the working groups was retained, but was supplemented to make it more rigorous, and more in keeping with public comments I regularly receive not only from parents but Arizonans in general.
To show what was added during the internal review process, I have had posted on the ADE website the standards that show in black lettering the initial draft, along with green lettering showing the additions made by myself and staff based on our additional work. Here are the links so you can see the additions:
The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) opened grant applications for the upcoming year on March 1, 2018, marking the earliest time ever that Arizona schools could apply for grants. The flood of early applications has demonstrated how popular the new practice has been with traditional districts and charters.
“We have been working over the past year to overhaul and streamline the Department’s internal grants management practices,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said. “The goal is to allocate grant money to schools as soon as possible. The heavy lifting and hard work performed by my finance, grants and program area staff appears to be paying off.”
Since the application window opened, 345 applications have been initiated, including more than 17 percent of the entitlement grants available for this year. The Department is now well on its way to achieving the goal of schools receiving their grant allocations before the start of the new school year in July. This change in the grants process was created to ensure that schools did not receive their grant allocations after the beginning of the school year, which had been common practice in previous years.
“It was simply unacceptable to have schools waiting until after the school year had started to receive grant funds,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Schools need to know the extent of their funding before the school year has started so they can budget their finances accordingly. Schools already have enough financial concerns on their plate without external factors complicating their processes any further.”
Under the leadership of Superintendent Douglas, ADE has been working diligently to ease any procedural burdens on Arizona’s public schools. Opening the grant funding applications in March will not only help get grant money to schools earlier, but it will also streamline the application process, create a consistent schedule for opening funding applications and awarding grant funds, as well as provide districts and charters with more proactive planning opportunities.