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Superintendent Hoffman asks, “When will be the right time to fund education?”
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today issued the following statement regarding the fiscal year 2020 state budget:
“This year, the state made some movements in the right direction by funding several K-12 education initiatives, including giving schools more money to spend on new counselors, the next installment of the promised 20×2020 teacher raises, and increased funding to address our teacher shortage by training the next generation of educators. However, it is disheartening to see another tax cut of nearly $400 million when Arizona’s education spending remains among the lowest in the nation.
“While the department received critical funds needed to begin upgrading our school finance payment system, currently running on outdated 1990’s technology, many of our budget requests were not granted. We were not given the spending authority for anywhere close to what is needed to manage the ESA program effectively and efficiently. This money would have directly supported ESA families with improved customer service, as well as helped us provide a smooth transition to our new ESA payment system. This new payment system will make it easier for families to appropriately spend their funds and cut back on cumbersome processes which currently leave too much room for error or misspending to occur. Another statutorily mandated program, the Office of Indian Education, also remains unfunded. Additionally, this budget places a strain on available federal matching funds to support Adult Education programs, money which would have directly prepared individuals for the workforce.
“I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel the state, meeting with countless administrators, teachers, and students. These visits have made clear to me that we must return to pre-recession funding levels, with a sustainable, dedicated revenue source. Next session, I look forward to fighting for this as well as for increased special education funding. I will also continue to advocate for more money to support the paraprofessionals and other school employees who play a vital role in educating our students.
“All students deserve access to a high-quality public education – no matter their zip code or their background. If the state cannot bring itself to fully fund education during a year with a massive budget surplus, when will it do so? We must find the collective will to make this happen. Our future depends on it.”
The application process for this position is now closed. Individuals selected for consideration will be contacted directly.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today announced the creation of a new executive leadership position at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) focused on issues of equity. The Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion will be charged with driving ADE’s internal and external efforts to better serve under-represented, marginalized, and at-risk students and their families.
“All of Arizona’s students deserve the chance to succeed and reach their full academic potential, regardless of their background,” said Superintendent Hoffman. “This leadership position is among the first of its kind in the nation. It reflects my administration’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion both in our internal practices and in the state policy we help drive.”
Among other responsibilities, the new Associate Superintendent will be tasked with identifying opportunities for cross-agency collaboration, developing a state strategic plan for equity initiatives, and working with the Policy & Government Relations team to propose legislative solutions to state lawmakers. The Associate Superintendent will also participate in many of the State Superintendent’s task-force groups that focus on issues of equity, such as the African American Advisory Council, Latinx Advisory Council, Culturally Inclusive Practices Advisory Council, and more.
Interested individuals can apply by e-mailing their resume and cover letter to [email protected] using the subject line “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” Acceptance of applications will end on May 24, 2019. The full job description for the Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion can be found below.
Associate Superintendent of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Leading ADE’s internal efforts to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.
- Identifying opportunities for cross-agency collaboration to better serve under-represented, marginalized, and at-risk students and their families.
- Providing ADE staff with professional development and resources focused on cultural competence and biases.
- Leadership and oversight of program areas assigned by the Superintendent.
- Assessing internal processes in collaboration with Human Resources to ensure that workplace policies are equitable, culturally responsive, and promote diversity.
- Developing a state strategic plan for equity initiatives and related public policies with the input of stakeholders and ADE staff.
- Engaging with staff, districts, and community stakeholders on equity issues and proposed solutions to strengthen communities through more equitable resources and educational practices.
- Working with Policy & Government Relations team to propose legislative solutions for lawmakers.
- Participating in committees, advisory councils, or task force groups that focus on issues of equity (e.g. African American Advisory Council; Culturally Inclusive Practices Advisory Council), and support committees and ADE staff on the implementation of collective ideas and goals.
- Monitoring statewide data on achievement gaps among groups of students and bring together ADE staff and other stakeholders to develop strategies and solutions.
To provide clarity and guidance to school districts, the Arizona Department of Education has updated its residency and enrollment guidelines. An Arizona driver’s license is one type of documentation that may be used to prove Arizona residency, but parents are not required to produce one to enroll their children. Other acceptable forms of documentation include, but are not limited to, utility bills, bank or credit card statements, or payroll stubs.
For more information and a complete list of acceptable documentation that can be used to establish one’s residency in Arizona, please see the attached residency and enrollment guidelines.
Today, the state legislature fully repealed anti-LGBTQ legislation regarding HIV/AIDS curriculum, sometimes referred to as the “no promo homo law,” with strong bipartisan support, and the Governor signed it into law minutes later. This repeal means students will no longer be denied access to medically accurate, science-based information regarding HIV/AIDS.
More importantly, after nearly three decades of this law placing stigma on our LGBTQ community, the repeal sends a signal to every student, teacher, and family in Arizona that they are welcome in our schools – regardless of who they are and who they love.
I ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction because I saw firsthand the impact of these laws in our classrooms. I knew we could no longer stand by and allow discriminatory practices to be our status quo. Equality Arizona, GLSEN Phoenix, Aunt Rita’s Foundation, Planned Parenthood Arizona, one n ten, ONE Community, Human Rights Campaign, Arizona School Boards Association, Arizona Education Association, Arizona Students’ Association, and many more groups have long fought for this bill’s repeal. I also want to thank Senator Martín J. Quezada for his tireless leadership on this issue.
I applaud my colleagues in the legislature for taking this important step toward building a better and more equal state. Today, and every day, we say: all are welcome in our schools.
On behalf of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and the Arizona State Board of Education (SBE), Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and President of the State Board of Education Lucas J. Narducci sent a letter to district superintendents and charter leaders regarding the future of statewide assessments. The letter was in response to a communication from the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) that stated Arizona law was at odds with current federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) law regarding assessment.
In December 2018, ADE made a request to US ED asking to waive certain federal requirements as they pertain to the Menu of Assessments state law (A.R.S. 15-741.02) that passed in 2016, which required Arizona to offer a Menu of Assessments to allow schools to administer an alternate assessment instead of the statewide assessment (i.e. AzMERIT). This was designed to be phased in over a set timeframe, beginning with high school in Spring 2019 and for grades 3-8 in Spring 2020.
Last week, ADE received notification from US ED that this waiver request was denied. Since that time, ADE and SBE officials have collaborated with education stakeholders throughout the state to communicate the effects this will have on schools, as well as to work toward solutions regarding the future of statewide assessments.
Please see the letters below from Superintendent Hoffman and President Narducci to Arizona schools, as well as the letter from US ED to ADE:
The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) will wrap up “Arizona Youth Arts Month” this weekend, bringing to a close a month of celebrating excellence in arts education inside and outside of schools throughout Arizona. March, which is also known as “Dance in Our Schools Month,” “Music in our Schools Month,” “Theatre in Our Schools Month” and “Youth Arts Month,” is when arts educators throughout the state are recognized for their outstanding contributions to their respective communities.
“Arts programs are an essential part of a well-rounded education system,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said. “I want to thank all of the wonderful artists – both teachers and students – for enriching our state by sharing their talents.”
ADE extends a warm congratulations to this year’s Arts Teachers of the Year:
Arizona Art Education Association Teachers of the Year
Cathy Saraniero, Cocopah Middle School, Scottsdale Unified School District
Michelle Peacock, Saguaro High School, Scottsdale Unified School District
Arizona Music Educators Association Teachers of The Year
Eric Zimmerman, Band, Orchestra & Guitar Teacher, Moon Valley High School
Jennifer Randle, Orchestra Specialist, Mesa Public Schools
Anneka Kotterman, Music Teacher, Whipple Ranch Elementary
John Snyder, Secondary Choral Festival Coordinator, Mesa Public Schools
Arizona Dance Education Organization “Katherine Lindholm Lane Dance Educator of the Year”
Tiffany White, Mesquite High School, Gilbert Public Schools
Arizona Thespians Teachers of the Year
Corey Quinn, Central Region, Mountain Pointe High School
Laura Colletti, North Region, Centennial High School
Jessica Armistead, South Region, Cienega High School
Flagstaff Arts Council 2019 Viola Award Winner for Excellence in Arts Education
Kathy Marron, Thomas Elementary School, Flagstaff Unified School District
In addition, many schools and arts organizations around the state promoted high-quality arts programs and stories of excellence. JO Combs High School opened their new Performing Arts Center, Nogales Unified School District debuted murals in partnership with the Ben’s Bells organization to encourage kindness and the UBU Project promoted peer-led substance abuse prevention through the arts at Cactus Shadows High School.
In addition, the Rising Youth Theatre has utilized theater to stimulate healthy emotional development at Create Academy, while representatives from ADE were invited to join parents and families at arts celebrations in the Agua Fria and Alhambra School Districts. The ADE Office of Arts Education is also thrilled to announce that the arts are the first non-federally mandated discipline to link arts education student enrollment and access data on the Arizona State School Report Cards for greater transparency and accountability.
March also marked the announcement of winners of the Southwest Airlines and the Phoenix Suns “Heart of Freedom Art and Essay Contest,” Arizona Department of the Administration “Cybersecurity Calendar Contest” and ADE’s 4th Grade Collaborative Visual Arts Competition “WeAreAz” statewide arts competitions.
If you’d like to know more information about the Office of Arts Education and our programs, please visit our website: http://www.azed.gov/artseducation/. You can sign up for our blog and explore arts education resources.
In recognition of operators of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), a federally-funded Child Nutrition Program administered by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), the Department joined 392 child care centers and preschools, 273 Head Start programs, seven emergency shelters, 325 afterschool programs, 12 adult day care centers and more than 2,200 in-home child care providers in celebrating National CACFP Week.
“We can all agree that basic nutrition is foundational to health and well-being,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said. “These are essential values that we all share, regardless of any cultural or socio-economic differences. In order do the work of educating our children, nothing is more important than ensuring the quality of their health.”
The CACFP helps participating facilities serve nutritious meals and snacks to children and adults in their care. In 2018, the CACFP provided over 31 million meals and snacks to children and adults in Arizona.
Additionally, the program supports caregivers and educators through their work in establishing positive eating habits, promoting healthy growth and development of young children, as well as supporting the health and wellness of older adults, the chronically impaired and disabled persons.
Participating providers receive financial support, training and technical assistance, as well as ongoing compliance monitoring visits to maintain program integrity. Those enrolled in CACFP facilities are afforded access to high-quality meals and snacks at no additional cost to the family.
ADE supports participating facilities willing to continue to celebrate National CACFP Week all year by exploring one of the seven opportunities outlined on the attached flyer. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to ask their care facilities about their participation in the CACFP.
For additional information about the CACFP or to access a list of facilities currently operating the CACFP, please visit www.azed.gov/hns/cacfp. Or feel free to call 602-542-8700 (press 1 for Community Nutrition Programs) to learn more about these invaluable programs.
Earlier this week, ESA Director Karla Escobar sent the following update regarding the work of the ESA Task Force to parents utilizing an Empowerment Scholarship Account for their children.
Dear ESA Parents,
Last month, I was honored to accept Superintendent Kathy Hoffman’s offer to serve as ESA Director, a role I held previously. One of the first tasks Superintendent Hoffman charged me with was working with an ESA Task Force made up of representatives from the Governor’s office, the Treasurer’s office, Save our Schools Arizona, the American Federation for Children, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, as well as ESA parents.
The task force was charged with the following:
Within the confines of existing state statute, assist the Arizona Department of Education in ensuring that: 1) The program efficiently serves parents whose children are eligible for an ESA and who choose to use this program as a means to provide them a quality education. 2) The program is fiscally efficient, transparent, and accountable.
To fulfill this charge, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has asked for bids for a new third-party financial vendor to better help manage transactions and simplify the process for parents and families.
It is expected that a vendor will be selected by mid-June. After that, there will be a transition period from the current system to the new system, with many opportunities for training and education. We pledge to work diligently to ensure parents are knowledgeable about the new process.
The new third-party vendor will deal only with financial transactions, and ADE’s role managing the daily operations of the ESA program will not change. Additionally, protecting student data and information remains a top priority. The new vendor will be required to follow all federal and state laws protecting student data and ADE will still manage eligibility screenings.
We are confident this direction will provide ESA parents with greater consistency and clarity concerning allowable program expenses. We will continue to communicate with you regularly about next steps in the coming months. We are also actively exploring ways for ESA parents to give feedback as we move forward, including setting up a working group made up of parents to help inform the work of the task force. Our number one priority is ensuring the ESA program effectively and efficiently serves the students and parents who rely on it.
Arizona Department of Education
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman today announced the findings of an internal capacity review of the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). The review was conducted to better ascertain ADE’s capacity to support schools and deliver a high-quality education to all students.
“I promised during my campaign that under my leadership ADE would be an agency of service and transparent about these findings,” Superintendent Hoffman said. “This capacity review has provided us invaluable information that we will use to develop a strategic plan forward that delivers on that promise.”
The review was conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) over a two-day period in February. During the two days, CCSSO gathered evidence on key aspects of the department’s capacity. The evidence was related to areas including vision and planning, ADE culture and capacity, as well as external relationships and communication. In the process of this review, CCSSO spoke with more than 80 staff members and external stakeholders including Superintendent Hoffman, her leadership team, administrative staff, mid- and upper-level ADE management, public school teachers, district superintendents, political partners and parents.
Among the key findings were that communication is improving, both internally and externally, with ADE employees and stakeholders both pointing to examples of noteworthy progress. Interviewees also praised the new administration’s focus on reaching out and listening to various education stakeholders.
The review also highlighted several areas where more work is needed. Specifically, the improvements in communication are just a start, and more can be done to build on the early work in this area. Additionally, there is a clear need for an overarching vision and strategic plan that unites and focuses the work of the department. This vision and plan would define success and set benchmarks for progress. Additionally, there was broad agreement that this process should heavily involve stakeholders that are served by the department.
In the coming months, the Hoffman administration will work diligently to develop a path forward with the end goal being a department of education that effectively and equitably serves students, schools and communities. The financial audit committee, which continues to meet, will release the findings of that audit at a later date.
Capacity Review Findings
In February 2019, Superintendent Kathy Hoffman invited the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to conduct a capacity review and present the results to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) leadership team. A capacity review is a rapid, yet thorough, review of the agency’s capacity, or the extent to which a state education agency is set up to deliver on its goals for students. A team from CCSSO interviewed agency staff and a diverse set of stakeholders from around the state to develop a full picture of system activities at all levels. We used this feedback to identify bright spots as well as areas of focus and potential solutions for ADE. The review will serve as a baseline by which progress can be measured over time. As ADE and its partners continue their work, this review will help everyone understand the areas of greatest strength and challenge.
To determine ADE current capacity to achieve its goals for students, CCSSO gathered evidence from key stakeholders. We also looked at data in the public domain, and news and current events.
Throughout our information gathering, consistent bright spots emerged.
Department staff possess the will to deliver on the goals of the department. Staff consistently commended one another for their commitment to the work. ADE employees acknowledge that the agency exists to serve the field. There is a strong foundation to build on due to the dedication of staff.
The leadership team is perceived to be off to a good start and they have generated a great deal of momentum and good will. Both staff and external stakeholders indicated their eagerness to work with Superintendent Hoffman and the new administration at ADE. Interviewees across the spectrum praised the Superintendent’s focus on reaching out and listening to various education stakeholders.
Communication is already improving. Interviewees indicated that ADE has historically been siloed and hard to engage. However, both internal and external stakeholders were able to identify examples of dramatic improvement since January. External representatives pointed out Superintendent Hoffman’s presence at various events in the field since taking office, and ADE staff were happy to be receiving more communication from the leadership team.
Areas of Focus
Focus groups helped to identify various challenges.
Strategic Vision. As is typical for a new administration, there is a sense of purpose, but no clear overarching vision that unites the work of the agency. Beyond campaign priorities, there is little guidance on what the core work is for the agency as a whole. Much of the development of goals and strategies up to this point has been driven at the program level within individual teams. Though this results in some clarity on strategy in those teams, there is no sense of what it all adds up to. The lack of agency-wide vision also means that priorities are often determined in reaction to the legislature. The state’s Every Student Succeeds Act consolidated state plan contains student outcome goals but there is not a sense that those goals are driving the department’s work.
Plan for Implementing the Vision There is not yet a plan guiding the department’s work. Multiple teams within the department are doing duplicative and uncoordinated work, which makes it difficult to provide a consistent customer service experience to the field. For example, in many cases, external stakeholders do not know who to call to resolve an issue, or two people within the agency will give differing answers to the same inquiry. There is no consistent approach to implementation to reach the field at scale; districts are not currently looking to the department to help them in their work.
Internal Focus and Investment. ADE is facing two key infrastructure challenges that must be resolved for operations to improve. First, the agency’s information technology systems are considerably out of date and not able to provide the reliable data needed for staff to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Second, there needs to be a focus on streamlining the human capital management process, which is overly complex in some respects, vague in others, and time-intensive, presenting major barrier to hiring, onboarding, retaining, and promoting staff at the department.
The capacity review revealed some key areas of work that agency leaders should focus on in the next several months. Get clearer about the vision and make it public. Clarify ADE’s vision for students in Arizona and define what success looks like. Engage stakeholders in the development of this vision to build broad buy-in and to leverage the partnerships needed to advance that vision. Once established, make sure the vision is visible in the agency building for staff and is pervasive in ADE’s communications.
Build a detailed plan. Engage stakeholders in the development and implementation of a clear strategic plan to execute on the vision.
Make it easier to hire, develop, and promote staff. The quality of the ADE staff is a clear strength, but they still face considerable barriers. The agency can reduce these barriers through procedural improvements, such as shortening the time it takes to fill vacancies, creating a universal onboarding and professional development plan, and improving visibility into the requirements for promotion. To the extent possible, repurpose the current employee evaluation tool into something that can drive more meaningful growth discussions.
Build on existing goodwill among stakeholders. Superintendent Hoffman gets high praise for her outreach and availability. Stakeholders are looking to be more deeply engaged, and to be brought into discussions about how the agency’s vision will be implemented and what their role in that implementation might be. Superintendent Hoffman is still very new to office, so laying the groundwork now for meaningful engagement can help build a durable coalition for the future. Build predictable ways to receive feedback from the field and be transparent about how stakeholder feedback will be visibly reflected in the actions and priorities of the department.