Before I returned to school to become a teacher, I was a journalist who wrote about education. The Common Core standards debate, whether minority kids get a fair break in public school classrooms and the shortage of qualified teachers were among the subjects I explored as an education writer for The Arizona Republic. I am continuing to write about these subjects independently as I make my way to the classroom.
My work for The Arizona Republic
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas stepped into office and immediately became one of the most recognized, celebrated, reviled and talked-about public officials in the state.
Arizona education data shows Black, Hispanic and Native American kids lag by as much as 44 percentage points on achievement tests. The reasons behind the gap are complex.
Common Core math teaches students to puzzle out answers problems and explore the concepts that formulas represent instead of memorizing facts and formulas. The different approach is causing many parents headaches as they struggle to help their children with math homework.
In 2014, Arizona students failed the math portion of the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test at a rate five times higher than those who failed reading. Education experts say a shortage of elementary and secondary math teachers is one root of the problem.
Low pay and tough expectations for Arizona teachers have led to a shortage of qualified people willing to take jobs in Arizona classrooms. In 2014, the state had about 95,000 certified teachers, but only about 52,000 were in the classroom, according to the Arizona Department of Education.
Independent writing for the Helios Education Foundation
Her parents grew up in Mexico and never had the opportunity to finish high school. Her older brother never felt comfortable in American schools. He dropped out to go to work. Needless to say, Alicia Flores was more than a little nervous when she walked through the doors of the 2,100-student Camelback High School.
Present-day demographers discuss Arizona’s current Latino population boom as if the trend were something new, but many Latinos know that their ancestors have played a strong role in Arizona history since the 16th Century. The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce predicts that by 2030, Latinos will be the majority population in the state.
Paul Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation, says that the challenges the business community faces in Arizona around identifying a labor pool that is equipped with the 21st century skills today’s employers demand are real and will only get worse unless more action is taken to improve the state’s education systems.
Ready Now Yuma not only helps students prepare academically for higher education, it helps them put together financial plans to be able to afford future academics.
Phoenix Cesar Chavez High School senior Marco Mares is on a success trajectory.
Neither of his parents attended college. He had not even heard of the concept of postsecondary entrance exams until he was in eighth grade. But Marco mastered the ACT with a score high enough to earn a full academic scholarship to Arizona State University.
More independent writing
It was the first hour of my first day teaching Spanish at Kyrene Altadeña Middle School. My classroom at “Altadeña Middle Sweat” was way too warm and way too crowded. The Arizona Auditor General’s Office staffer who recently contended that the Kyrene School District has too much classroom space obviously did not drop by my program at Altadeña. We didn’t even have enough desks on the first day of school…
“Student Voices: Why Equity Matters ” The Equity Event 2016 panel discussion hosted by Arizona School Boards Association. March 11, 2016. Moderator.
“Common Core: Controversial but Consequential” Debate hosted by Leadership West. March 27, 2015. Moderator.
“My Kid Has Autism, Now What?” Panel discussion hosted by Zocalo Public Square. May 9, 2014. Moderator.
“Why Arizona is Failing Third Graders” Panel discussion hosted by Zocalo Public Square. Nov. 7, 2013. Moderator.
“How Parents Can Support Their Kids in STEM” Panel discussion hosted by AZ SCITECH Festival. Sept. 4, 2013. Panelist.