A Message from the Superintendent:
When I took office in 2015, I promised you that I was committed to developing a world-class education system for Arizona, and that I would make it my mission to make the necessary improvements. The past two years have been challenging, but I am proud of our accomplishments so far. We have run into opposition, but I have also been pleasantly surprised by how often Arizonans have been willing to step up in the name of creating a better education system. There are millions of people out there who understand that educating our children is both a good investment and one of our most important imperatives as a society.
I came in to office focused on putting Arizonans back in control of Arizona education. I can say we have succeeded with flying colors. First, we created the Listening Tour, and I traveled to more than 15 locations in 2015 around the state and listened to what you—all of you—were saying. The comments of anyone who cared about K-12 education enough to show up and speak up, as well as every single person who responded to our social media channels, was carefully considered.
Using your ideas, concerns, and feedback, we created the Arizona Kids Can’t Wait! 2016 plan. We did this again the following year, and will do so every year I’m in office. We were rewarded for listening more directly than we ever expected when Common Core was abolished in our state. In addition, many of the great ideas everyday Arizonans gave us turned out to be useful in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). So, when ESSA was announced, we found we were already in the process of figuring out how to implement many of the requirements of the law. This allowed Arizona to become the first state in the nation to submit a draft of their ESSA plan. It was a true victory, in every sense, for local control of education.
One of my deepest passions has always been seeing equal education outcomes for all students, whether they are wealthy or poor, rural or urban, and whatever personal challenges beset them. It has been my great pride to oversee the launch of the Zip Code Project, which works with governmental and community organizations to help urban and rural disconnected youth throughout Arizona. The Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative will provide broadband access to every school in Arizona, dramatically broadening the education options for rural schools. Equal access to broadband is critical to education in the 21st Century. Our Seal of Biliteracy also goes on to significantly recognize our students with multilingual proficiency and provide them achievement recognition that they will be able to carry with them into future education or their careers.
We have lobbied the Arizona Legislature to increase school funding and teacher salaries. While we were technically successful on both counts, the funding granted by the Legislature was far short of what we asked for. We will continue to advocate on behalf of adequate funding for our schools and fair wages for our teachers throughout 2017 and beyond.
It has been my greatest honor to serve you, and I continue to be a passionate advocate for teachers, students, families, and education through the years ahead. My third Listening Tour is currently under way, and will shape the proposals we make in 2018, so please come to one of the events near you and be heard.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction