Arizona Launches Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative

(Phoenix, Ariz., March 14, 2017) – In order to expand K-12 Internet access, affordability and student digital learning opportunities in schools across the state, most notably in rural areas, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today applauded the funding of the Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative.

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted this morning to approve the one-time expansion of the existing Arizona Universal Service Fund (AUSF) to assist in the state matching investment of this program. The new grant will allow Arizona to receive ten dollars of funding for every dollar the state invests into the initiative.

Ultimately, the project could bring hundreds of millions of dollars in services to the state.

“Equal access to broadband services is critical to the success of a child’s education in the 21st century,” Superintendent Douglas said. “This program is an incredible opportunity for underserved children from small schools in rural parts of Arizona to have the same technology opportunities that are afforded to other children in the state.”

Last March, Arizona was one of the few states to be awarded the 2016 K-12 Broadband and Digital Learning Policy Academy grant through a partnership between the National Governor’s Association (NGA) Center, EducationSuperHighway (ESH) and the K-12 Broadband and Digital Learning Policy Academy.

“I commend my staff at the Department for making this opportunity a reality for so many students in rural areas,” Superintendent Douglas said. “My Public Information Officer, Stefan Swiat, wrote the grant application that enabled Arizona to have this opportunity, while State E-Rate Controller Milan Eaton has worked tirelessly to sign up as many schools as possible. My staff and I look forward to implementing this incredible program, which will bring tangible resources to rural students, schools and communities throughout the state.”

Designed to help support and guide states seeking to provide nearly every student with access to high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi access and enhanced digital learning, the NGA, ESH and Policy Academy will provide Arizona with advice and support on best practices in education, as well as help inform the scope and structure of the implementation process.

A thorough review estimates that the state match for this program may range from $8-13 million and that internet connectivity projects may span more than two years and benefit nearly 100,000 Arizona students. The state investment will draw down significant E-rate funds, which, in a majority of school systems, may pay for the entire cost of infrastructure construction.

To accomplish the state match, Commissioner Tobin and the ACC proposed establishing a new program which uses the AUSF fund to provide a portion of the state matching funds. A one-time distribution of $8 million from the existing AUSF would serve as the large portion of the state’s match, supporting telecommunications carriers which serve in high-cost areas of rural Arizona.

Since the grant was awarded, the Superintendent and Arizona Department of Education staff have worked to ensure participation from schools throughout the state. While all 15 counties already have a school moving forward with this initiative, as many as 200 school districts and charter schools have already applied for broadband services.

“While the Arizona Department of Education has provided the technological expertise, support and one-on-one engagement on this program, the Corporation Commission has taken the lead financially to ensure that this once-in-a-lifetime initiative is funded,” Superintendent Douglas added. “Although I would have preferred that the funding come from the general fund, I am pleased that so many students will reap the technological benefits of broadband such as online classes and digital learning access, as well as the ability to conduct state-of-the-art STEM experiments.”

Schools and districts are encouraged to apply through an easy and straightforward process that is also available for the following fiscal year. Those interested in this opportunity are encouraged to contact EducationSuperHighway Outreach Coordinator Alyssa Cubello at [email protected] or State E-Rate Controller for Schools Milan Eaton at [email protected].

Superintendent Diane Douglas Welcomes New Director of Legal/Hearings

(Phoenix, Ariz., March 21, 2017) – Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas is pleased to announce that Daniel Schultz has been named the Arizona Department of Education’s (ADE’s) new Director of Legal/Hearings.

“I am excited to work with Daniel to ensure that the Department provides the highest levels of data privacy for Arizona’s 1.1 million students,” Superintendent Douglas said. “With almost 30 years of extensive legal experience, he has worked with government entities, as well as with Fortune 500 companies.”

Schultz attended the United States Military Academy in West Point as an undergraduate before receiving his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1988. Immediately after graduation, Schultz went into litigation, accepting the position of litigation principal at Troop, Steuber, Pasich, Reddick & Tobey, LLP in Los Angeles.

During his 11 years at the firm, he participated in complex insurance coverage litigation on behalf of Fortune 500 companies, developing case strategies and drafting pleadings, briefs and memoranda. Schultz also defended depositions and supervised all facets of discovery and trial preparation.

After a couple of years addressing telecommunications, internet service provider and franchisor-franchisee disputes as lead counsel for insurance litigators DLA Piper, Schultz began his private practice when DLA conflicted out of its largest case. In 14 years of private practice, his law office handled intricate environmental insurance litigation, recovering more than $170 million for the State of California.

In his new role, Schultz will focus on providing comprehensive legal guidance and interpretation of legislation for ADE, prepare ADE for judicial proceedings and administrative law hearings, as well as draft a variety of contracts, resolutions, regulations and legal documents on behalf of the Department.

Schultz spends his free time following college football, especially his beloved Wisconsin Badgers, having attended back-to-back Rose Bowls when he lived in L.A. Married to his wife, Belinda, they have four children: a daughter, Nicole (19 years old), as well as Alec, Adam and Ben (16), who are triplets. He is also a member of the International Technology Law Association, an avid deer hunter, a high school state baseball champion and the pet owner of a tortoise named Jib.

ADE Launches Legislative Email Campaign to Preserve Education Funding

(Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 27, 2017) – The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas launched an email campaign today to show unwavering support for the IT funding necessary to pay teachers, pay schools and protect student data. The campaign comes as a response to the many education stakeholders and concerned citizens who requested a platform to voice their support of Information Technology (IT) funding for the department.

In order to underscore the urgency of restoring IT funding, the “Be Heard Arizona! Email Campaign” provides Arizonans with a template email to communicate this vital necessity to their legislators. The initial fiscal year 2018 budget recommendation released in January did not allocate any funds for the maintenance and support of ADE’s IT systems that are responsible for determining school enrollment numbers and distributing billions of dollars to Arizona’s schools.

“I cannot emphasize the importance of urgency in this matter enough,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. “My staff has spoken with the governor’s office privately and they have assured us that they want to see schools and teachers paid. However, if we cannot promise our award-winning IT staff that they will have a job on July 1, they will leave to take advantage of the booming IT market in Phoenix.”

Two programmers have already left the Department for positions elsewhere, one of which cited job uncertainty as his reason for leaving in an exit interview. If the nearly 130 ADE IT staff members continue to accept external offers, the performance of the IT systems that pay schools, take attendance and distribute free and reduced lunch will undoubtedly be affected.

Those interested in helping raise the Arizona Legislature’s awareness about this issue can visit www.azed.gov/beheardAZ. The user-friendly letter prepopulated on the website also allows for personal comments to be added.

“The campaign’s goal is for the legislature and governor’s office to assure me that we will have the funding necessary to preserve my staff’s employment,” the Superintendent said. “We urge every citizen to join us in emphasizing to the Arizona Legislature that this critical issue get immediately resolved. Since this could affect the future of all of our schools, teachers and students, there has not been a more important issue I have faced during my tenure as Superintendent.”

Arizona Educator Surprised With $25,000 Milken Educator Award

(Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 15, 2017) – Principal Timothy Thomas at Rogers Ranch School in Laveen received the surprise of a lifetime when he was presented with the prestigious Milken Educator Award―and the $25,000 cash prize that accompanies it ―during a special assembly at his school today. Principal Thomas was awarded this honor in recognition of his exemplary achievements as an educator and leader, serving as a model for the profession.

“One of my favorite things to do as Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction is to help recognize truly remarkable and deserving educators like Timothy Thomas,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. “I am privileged to be able to witness what a respected leader he is for this school. There is no doubt that his students, teachers and the community benefit from his passion and knowledge.”

Gleaned from his experience as a master teacher, Thomas has developed a reputation as a “turnaround” expert for creating a supportive environment for teachers and students to thrive. Thomas took over as principal at Rogers Ranch School in 2013 when the school was reportedly facing challenges such as low student achievement, high staff turnover and discipline issues. Just one year later in 2014, the K-8 STEM school progressed from a “D” to a “B” in Arizona’s school grading system and teacher retention rates increased while staff, students and parents all sang Thomas’ praises.

“One of Mr. Thomas’ many great attributes is that he is always teaching, and he is always learning,” said Laveen Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Bill Johnson. “Mr. Thomas is the instructional leader everyone hopes for in a school principal, and at the same time he is always growing, refining and improving. Staff and students readily strive to achieve the high expectations Mr. Thomas has for them, because they see that he holds himself to the highest standards.”

Before joining Rogers Ranch, Thomas led a similarly successful turnaround effort as principal of Cordova Middle School in Phoenix’s Alhambra Elementary School District. In Thomas’ first year, the school outperformed state and district averages in student achievement, led the district in student and teacher attendance and became Alhambra’s highest-achieving middle school.

Thomas graduated from Arizona State University in 2001 with a bachelor’s in elementary education, earning a master’s in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University in 2009. Thomas began his career teaching middle school math in 2002, developing an advanced math curriculum for his students. In addition, he established after-school outlets for students including tutoring, clubs and sports programs. An enormous proponent of STEM (science, technology, engineering and manthematics), Thomas partnered with a science museum and designed lessons for a new Saturday STEM program.

The Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation, were launched in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

In Arizona, 37 recipients have been presented with a Milken Educator Award since 1998.

Photos and videos from Thomas’ event can be viewed at http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/ .

For information about the awards, visit http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/newsroom/media-kit.

ADE Concludes IT Budget Presentation to House and Senate

(Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 8, 2017) – Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Chief of Staff Michael Bradley today concluded his budget presentations to the Arizona Legislature on behalf of the Department. Bradley first appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday before presenting ADE’s budget to the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

In his two appearances, Bradley focused on the impact of the initial fiscal year 2018 budget recommendation released in January, which allocated zero dollars for the maintenance and support of ADE’s information technology systems. He also emphasized the severe consequences that no information technology funding could have for public and charter schools throughout Arizona as systems responsible for determining school enrollment numbers and payments begin to suffer from a lack of support.

This oversight in the state’s initial budget proposal could prevent ADE from distributing billions of dollars to Arizona’s schools. If the issue is not resolved in the near future, ADE may be unable to issue payments to schools on July 1 or earlier if left unchanged.

“It is imperative that we receive our entire budget request from the Legislature so we can continue to run our IT systems and issue payments to schools,” Bradley said. “Arizona cannot afford to dismantle an IT data system that distributes more than $5 billion of state aid to schools, especially when it has already offset the state’s investment in its construction.”

If no additional money is provided through this year’s budget process, ADE will not have the capacity to pay for the basic software and network services required to operate the data system. In addition, no IT funding would have a devastating impact on accountability, federal and state reporting, the protection of student data, the livelihood of ADE IT and school employees and more than 150 computer programs used daily by schools and ADE employees to support students.

“Our third-party, independent auditor stated that our IT system needs to receive our full budget request,” Bradley stated. “No longer can we get away with receiving just enough money to maintain our IT systems. In order to process payments accurately without our systems collapsing, we need to rebuild the current payment systems, which were constructed before anyone currently in high school was born.”

In FY 2017, ADE received a one-time allocation of $7.3 million in dedicated IT funding. However, since Prop 301 funds have expired and ADE IT must still run its antiquated systems in combination with the new, the Department is requesting $17.6 million to maintain and complete its IT projects.

If the IT budget is not fully maintained, schools will feel the effects to their funding as early as March, but no later than July 1. Since IT employees may begin accepting employment at other organizations, the performance of the IT applications that these workers maintain will begin to decline.

Budget Issue Could Prevent ADE From Paying Schools

(Phoenix, Ariz., Jan. 12, 2017) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today brought attention to an issue in Gov. Ducey’s FY 2018 budget proposal that if left unchanged through the budget process would render the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) unable to issue payments to schools as early as July 1. Friday’s budget recommendation allocated zero dollars for the maintenance and support of ADE’s information technology systems, including those responsible for determining school enrollment numbers and payments, which will cripple its ability to calculate and distribute funding.

“I certainly appreciate that Governor Ducey has made education a top priority in his budget, and I was very pleased to see that many of the ideas he has included are similar to the proposals in my 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan,” said Superintendent Douglas. “Unfortunately, without any funding to support the data system that allows us to collect enrollment information from schools and calculate their allocations, we will soon be unable to process the payments that support Arizona schools, teachers, and students.”

ADE received $7.3 million in one-time dedicated IT funding for FY 2017. If no additional money is provided through this year’s budget process, ADE would be unable to pay for the basic software and network services required to operate the data system, much less support its continued development. The lack of funding also would have a devastating impact on over 150 applications used by schools and ADE employees to support students.

“I have every confidence that as a successful businessman the Governor will realize that this investment is critical to our state and our children and that he will work with the Legislature to ensure that our Department has the resources it needs to continue funding and serving our schools,” the Superintendent continued. “We cannot afford to jeopardize all of the work that has been done to create this state-of-the-art system, and we cannot leave our schools without the money they need to educate students.”

Realizing that ADE’s data system was at risk of going entirely unfunded without a new appropriation for FY 2018, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee also has identified the $7.3 million in one-time spending allocated in FY 2017 as a possible retention candidate in the FY 2018 budget.

Superintendent Sends Final Version of ESSA State Plan to DOE

(Phoenix, Ariz., Jan. 12, 2017) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced that the final version of Arizona’s State Plan in response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act has been delivered to the U.S. Department of Education.

Arizona is the first state to submit a final version of its state plan to the federal government and was the first state in the nation to distribute its initial draft plan.
“Arizona has been at the forefront of ESSA implementation and innovation since its initial release. We were the first state to release a draft plan, the first state to release a second draft and now the first to submit our plan for federal review,” said Superintendent Douglas.

“I am extremely proud of the hundreds of hours of work put into developing this plan by my staff here at the Arizona Department of Education, and I am most thankful for the thousands of comments we have received from parents, teachers, administrators, stakeholder groups, community members and elected officials that truly helped make this a plan for all of Arizona.”
Under ESSA, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) is responsible for creating a State Plan that reflects a shared statewide vision for Arizona’s students and schools.

To create the final version of the State Plan, Superintendent Douglas conducted extensive statewide outreach and engagement efforts to thousands of Arizonans through her We Are Listening Tour and via online resources.

ADE staff also met with dozens of stakeholder organizations and education officials to gather their feedback. This document reflects much of the input received after releasing the second draft of the State Plan in November, input that included thousands of comments from parents, teachers, school administrators, education stakeholder groups, business and community leaders, policymakers and members of the public. Comments and survey responses that have been received are available at www.azed.gov/essa/responses/.

ESSA, which is designed to replace No Child Left Behind as the primary federal legislation addressing America’s public education system, was passed into law by Congress in December 2015 and will take effect in the 2017-2018 school year. ESSA is marketed as affording states greater flexibility, and the new law encourages states and schools to innovate while maintaining a focus on accountability, state and local systems of improvement and a more balanced assessment system.

To give Arizona the most flexibility, the State Plan was designed to take a broad, generalized approach to the federal requirements. In response to feedback that the plan lacked the details needed for implementation, ADE developed a more specific and complementary Implementation Plan. Comments can still be made and will be considered for inclusion in the Implementation Plan.
ADE’s dedicated ESSA web site still will be updated frequently with information at www.azed.gov/essa.

Feedback also can still be submitted via email at [email protected] and Arizonans are invited to join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ESSAinAZ.
Anyone interested in receiving regular ESSA updates from ADE can sign up at www.azed.gov/essa/essa-updates/.

Superintendent Douglas Highlights 2016 Education Accomplishments

(Phoenix, Ariz., Dec. 27, 2016) – Today Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas celebrates significant education achievements implemented throughout 2016 under her leadership at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).

“I am extremely proud of the work my team at the Arizona Department of Education has done to improve our state’s education system,” said Superintendent Douglas. “I consider these accomplishments a victory for all of the students, teachers and parents in Arizona.”

Superintendent Douglas recently released the second version of her AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan, a comprehensive strategy to fix Arizona’s education system which is available at www.azed.gov/weheardyou. This plan was developed around public feedback received from her annual statewide tour, which has included a combination of more than 30, both rural and urban, communities throughout the state. Douglas’ plan includes many new proposals in addition to outlining the accomplishments and progress made throughout 2016. Follow her continuing accomplishments on Facebook or Twitter.

Superintendent Douglas Concludes 2016 We Are Listening Tour

Superintendent Douglas concludes her 2016 We Are Listening Tour on December 15, visiting 17 different communities throughout Arizona and completing three virtual tours.

“Our vast and diverse state has provided many great ideas that I will work to implement in my upcoming years as your elected Superintendent of Public Instruction,” said Douglas. “Some of these ideas may be completed through internal changes at ADE, while others may require legislative changes. Either way, I promise to do my very best to make sure every Arizonan’s voice is heard.”

Upon taking office, Douglas pledged to conduct an annual statewide tour to hear the concerns and suggestions of citizens regarding Arizona’s education system. The We Are Listening Tour is set to continue in the spring of 2017. The tour schedule will be available at www.azed.gov/weheardyou .

Superintendent Douglas Pursues More Funding for Education

Superintendent Douglas continues to pursue more funding for education to provide students, teachers, schools and families the support and resources needed to improve outcomes.

“I still hear everywhere I go that Arizonans want more funding for their schools,” stated Superintendent Douglas. “With that in mind, I am posing this question: As a state, do we want Arizona to have the best education system in the world or simply the cheapest system we can get by with politically?”

Douglas’ recent launch of the 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan proposes an additional $680 million increase for schools to provide the  education system the proper funding to excel. The new funding proposals follow:

  • $200 million increase for basic state aid to be used as decided by local school districts and charter schools.
  • $140 million for a 5 percent classroom teacher salaries increase to retain current teachers and recruit new professionals to the career.
  • $20 million for rural school transportation funding to compensate for longer distances traveled.
  • $40 million for rural schools to provide adequate support and services for their unique populations.
  • $180 million to fully fund capital for schools to build new buildings as needed.
  • $100 million to fully fund building renewal for school facilities to maintain buildings.

Arizona Standards for Arizona’s Students

Superintendent Douglas fulfills her campaign pledge to sever the state’s ties to the nationally developed Common Core standards and create Arizona standards for Arizona’s students.

“One of my top campaign promises was to move Arizona away from Common Core, and I am pleased that we have taken several steps to ensure our state’s children and parents once again have access to the best possible standards that have been tailored to fit the unique needs of Arizonans,” said Douglas.

Throughout 2016, ADE and the State Board of Education worked collaboratively to revise the English Language Arts (ELA) and Math Standards. After robust public feedback and further revisions by the standards working groups, ADE is proud to announce that the State Board of Education voted to approve the Arizona Mathematics Standards and the Arizona ELA Standards at the Dec. 19 meeting.

In 2016, Douglas also developed a schedule to review academic standards on a consistent and timely basis with extensive public input to ensure Arizona’s standards represent the best interest of students. Since the development of this schedule, ADE opened public comment on the Science and Social Studies standards for revisions to begin in 2017.

Previously, Superintendent Douglas praised the State Board of Education’s 6-2 vote in October  2015 to remove Common Core standards and allow for the review and revision to the standards where necessary so that they meet the needs of Arizona students.

Superintendent Douglas Enriches Arizona’s Cultures and Languages

Superintendent Douglas encourages the enrichment of Arizona’s cultural diversity by praising multilingual students and creating councils and action committees to improve outcomes for different student populations.

Throughout 2015 and 2016, Superintendent Douglas established education action committees and councils to engage members of the community in an effort to support minority students and encourage cultural inclusivity across the state.

Superintendent Douglas also promoted the introduction and passage of the statutory establishment of the Seal of Biliteracy Program to recognize students who are able to attain high-level proficiency in both English and one or more additional languages.

“I entered office with a goal of opening doors for students and the Seal of Biliteracy does just that,” stated Douglas. “This program incentivizes our students to focus on mastering languages beyond English and steers our state in the right direction as we work to establish Arizona as a leader in world languages. I am thrilled that this proposal from my 2016 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan became a reality!”

The Seal of Biliteracy Program officially launches in 2017 for schools to participate.

Superintendent Douglas Introduces the Zip Code Project

Superintendent Douglas introduces a new project focused on underserved and disconnected youth in high-need communities throughout Arizona called the Zip Code Project.

The Zip Code Project builds partnerships with community-based organizations to enhance services provided to youth in Arizona ages 16 to 24 who are unemployed and not in school.

“All children and young adults, regardless of where they live, deserve a chance to pursue their dreams and our mission with the Zip Code Project is to help these young adults get back on a path to a successful, happy and productive life,” stated Douglas.

Because of its swift success, Superintendent Douglas unveils Zip Code Project 2.0, a new proposal in the 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan to enhance and expand the current project with the goal to establish a presence in more than  16 zip codes throughout Arizona.

Superintendent Douglas Strengthens Parental Involvement in Education

Superintendent Douglas celebrates a statewide focus to more actively engage parents and families in a child’s education as a means to positively impact student outcomes.

In the 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan, Superintendent Douglas proposes a new objective targeted at expanding parental involvement through a program called Read 20. ADE will partner with education organizations and programs to promote parents and caregivers reading with their children 20 minutes a day.

In 2015, Douglas created the ADE Family Engagement Initiative to provide schools enhanced resources and proven practices that can help strengthen and sustain relationships with families. Since its inception, ADE has launched an agency-wide push to increase family engagement in schools and has offered educators professional development opportunities for high-impact family engagement.

 What to Look Forward to in 2017

Superintendent Douglas will devote 2017 to implementing the proposals of the 2017 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan.

“I am fully committed to working with the Governor and the legislators, alongside parents, teachers, students, school administrators, and business and community leaders to make Arizona’s education system the best in the nation,” stated Douglas.

Superintendent Douglas looks forward to the submission of a State Plan to the U.S. Department of Education required by the Every Student Succeeds Act that reinvigorates state and local control of the education system. The State Plan includes Arizona’s vision for our unique state and will include topics such as accountability, funding, school improvement and grant-making systems.

Douglas thanks the many people that positively impacted education in 2016, stating, “I believe that classroom teachers have the most important job in the world, and that’s to educate our children, so I thank them for their dedication to educating our children. I would also like to thank administrators, education organizations, governing board members and my staff for their commitment to education in Arizona.”

State Board Votes to Replace Common Core Standards

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today supported the State Board of Education’s (SBE’s) decision to replace the Common Core Standards by formally adopting the second draft of the 2016 Arizona English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Standards.

“These new standards represent the final step in the repeal and replacement of Common Core in Arizona and they reflect the thoughts and recommendations of thousands of Arizona citizens,” said Superintendent Douglas. “I would like to thank everyone involved in this important work for their contributions, from the more than 200 teachers who donated thousands of hours in working groups to the parents whose input helped shape these documents. I would also like to thank my amazing K-12 Standards team here at the Department for making this process possible.”

As part of the standards development process, the SBE and the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) worked together to gather, process and incorporate more than 10,000 comments related to the standards, an effort that took place both before and after releasing a first draft to the public. The first draft was also reviewed by several nationally recognized technical experts, including prominent anti-Common Core authorities. Where applicable, their feedback was included in the second draft along with thoughts shared by members of the public.

“The federally mandated Common Core Standards were initially adopted by the SBE in 2010 without a thorough public review, which deeply frustrated many Arizonans,” continued Superintendent Douglas. “That lack of public input became an even larger concern as problems with the standards were identified, many of which were related to the resulting curricula. Thankfully, through this process I am proud to say that Common Core has at last been eliminated and that we now have excellent ELA and math standards developed by Arizonans for Arizona students. I look forward to using a similar continuous improvement process to ensure that all of our standards are updated as needed with extensive public input.”

The SBE’s action comes just over a year after it voted on Oct. 26, 2015 to formally reverse its 2010 decision to adopt the Common Core Standards, a result that effectively severed Arizona’s ties to them. Superintendent Douglas called for that vote as part of her 2016 AZ Kids Can’t Wait! plan, which was released on Oct. 1, 2015, and earlier in 2015 secured Arizona’s release from the copyright that would have prevented the state from making changes to the standards.

Superintendent Douglas invites all Arizonans to review the newly adopted standards at https://k12standards.az.gov/second-draft-2016-arizona-standards. The documents include red-lined changes that make it very easy to see where modifications were made and to identify the origin of the comments that led to those changes.

Parents, educators and members of the public can visit www.azed.gov/standards-practices/k-12-standards-feedback/ to provide additional feedback on any of Arizona’s academic standards.

Arizona Students Selected for 2017 United States Senate Youth Program

(Phoenix, Ariz., Dec. 8, 2016) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced that two Arizona students have been selected as delegates to the 55th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), which will be held March 4-11, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Henry Rosas Ibarra of Glendale and Meena Venkataramanan of Tucson were chosen from over 80 outstanding Arizona high school applicants to be members of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s 55th annual Washington Week.

“Henry Rosas Ibarra and Meena Venkataramanan are outstanding students and I know they will represent Arizona proudly as part of this esteemed program,” said Superintendent Douglas. “This is a life-changing opportunity for these students to meet with our nation’s leaders, experience the American political process and reinforce their commitment to public service.”

Henry Rosas Ibarra is a senior at North Pointe Preparatory in Phoenix where he holds the position of president of the National Honor Society. He currently serves on the advisory commission for the City of Glendale’s Park and Recreation Division to represent the city’s youth and advocate for the services they need. Henry also interns at the Office of Congressman Ruben Gallego where he assists with casework and outreach activities.

Meena Venkataramanan is a senior at Catalina Foothills High School where she is president of the Speech and Debate Team. Meena serves as a teen attorney at the Pima County Teen Court, a local nonprofit diversion program for adolescent misdemeanants. She is a member of the Metropolitan Education Commission’s Youth Advisory Council/Tucson Teen Congress, which lobbies state and national leaders on issues impacting her community.

Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings the most outstanding high school juniors and seniors—two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity—to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government.

The Hearst Foundations provide each student with transportation and all expenses for Washington Week, as well as a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship.

Chosen as alternates to the 2017 USSYP were Daiva Scovil of Tucson, who attends University High School, and David Jaffe of Mesa, who attends Westwood High School.

For questions about Arizona’s USSYP, please contact the state selection administrator Alexis Susdorf at [email protected] or 602-542-3309 or visit www.azed.gov/oci/ussyp/. For general information about the United States Senate Youth Program, please visit www.ussenateyouth.org or contact National Program Director Rayne Guilford at 800-425-3632 or [email protected].