8 Ideas To Improve Arizona Education

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Arizona was recently named one of the worst states for education. With school moving online and being challenged in new ways, it’s become evident that now more than ever, we need to make some changes. That being said, we understand that it can be arduous to find new ways to strengthen what is a very complex education system.

So what are possible actions or ideas that educators or people within the education system can take to improve? We asked eight professionals for their take on what Arizona can do to help improve its education, and here’s what they said:

Innovate Early

Change it up! School curriculum looks the same for a lot of states, but the way in which that information is presented can become a great area of focus. The ability for students to stay engaged can most definitely rely on how stimulating the class is. One thing I learned through my own experience, was that not every student learns the same, so a standardized course curriculum can propose many problems, leaving kids feeling like they’re not intelligent for not understanding the curriculum being presented in a way they don’t understand. By understanding the needs of students, it is easier to create an environment that is compelling and interesting. School becomes a burden when every year looks and feels the same as the last. Being creative and innovative in the material and coursework will create an increase in both attention and attendance!

Alexis Orth, Markitors

Create Spaces for Personalized Interactions

The key to improving education is to create spaces for personalized interactions between teachers and students. Children don’t learn at the same pace or in the same way. The Ascend Curriculum we’ve developed at Cadence Education offers a?balance of structure and flexibility?and enables our teachers to individualize instruction to accommodate the interests and learning styles of each student.

Jeanne Kolpek, Cadence Education

State-Wide Budget Reforms

Arizona can help improve its education system through comprehensive budget reforms that would increase per-student spending, increase investment in public schools, and increase teacher salaries. To create this, our local government would need to re-prioritize our state funding packages so more dollars can be allocated towards education. There is also room for innovation in how revenue is generated and distributed to our schools that can be explored through strategic partnerships between the state of Arizona, local businesses, and nonprofits like Million Dollar Teacher Project.

Lloyd Hopkins, Million Dollar Teach Project

Emphasize Career Skills

From an early age, there should be an emphasis put on life and career skills that are taught alongside the normal curriculum. Having normal conversations about going to college and getting jobs with kids from elementary school to high school will set the standard of setting those attainable goals.

Denise Gredler, BestCompaniesAZ

Money Management Courses

Money management is a critical life skill that isn’t part of any normal curriculum. Most kids graduate high school without any training on how to handle their own finances. Only 16.4% of U.S. high school students are required to take a personal finance course, according to Next Gen Personal Finance. Personal finance should be made mandatory in order to prepare the rising generation to better handle their money.

Carey Wilbur, Charter Capital

Professional Guest Lectures

With the majority of education happening virtually now, it is important to really go the extra mile and create an environment that students actually enjoy being in! One unique way we can do this is by inviting professionals to do guest lectures. By showing students an example of someone who successfully utilizes the skills they are currently learning, you can ignite a fire within them to truly want to learn and master a subject.

Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional

Address Overcrowding

To improve Arizona’s public education system, overcrowding and underfunding have to be the first thing addressed. As the population of Arizona rises with people from larger states like California flocking to our state, classroom sizes are getting bigger and bigger. Asking a single adult to oversee a room (or virtual classroom right now) of 40 kids or more is a nearly impossible task. There is no way that each kid is having their learning needs met and getting one-on-one time to address an issue if they’re falling behind with a class size that big. Keeping class sizes small and manageable will allow teachers to give students the attention they deserve to improve their learning!

Katelyn Harris Lange, Y Scouts

Teacher Retention

From my experience, Arizona needs to shift its focus to teacher retention. I was a former elementary school teacher in Arizona’s public school system. During the three years that I taught, I saw approximately 85% turnover at my school alone. Our students need quality, experienced teachers, but with the incredibly low pay scale, ever-rising class numbers, and little to no classroom support, it creates an environment filled with high-stress and low reward. Instructors simply have no incentive to continue to teach in Arizona when they can find positions elsewhere that offer higher pay and more support in the classroom.

Lindsay Consalvos, UAT

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Growing the Tree

Million Dollar Teacher Tree was first developed in a classroom by students in a program called, Next Generation Service Corps at Arizona State University in December of 2017. These students were tasked by Lloyd Hopkins, founder of Million Dollar Teacher project with developing a project that can potentially become an integral part in helping MDTP achieve its mission. The group eventually developed the original prototype for Million Dollar Teacher Tree—a cutout dollar sign that would be placed in surrounding businesses near the partner school. The idea was pitched to staff members of MDTP during the last of their class, and the project was picked up by MDTP as a new pilot program for the organization. After many months of planning, the prototype was eventually revamped into what it is today, Million Dollar Teacher Tree.

Golden Apple

These apples are intended to provide any sort of Professional Development which, in turn, gifts them with key knowledge to add to their personal skill-set to better work with their students.

As educators, teachers are constantly looking to continually grow in their profession to not only learn how to better connect with their students, but to also make the learning experience much more exciting.

Suggested donation amount range: $10 – $100

Red Apple

These apples are designed to provide the typical day-to-day items in the classroom. Teachers spend can spend upwards of $1,000 out of pocket to have enough supplies yearlong for their students– to alleviate this, the Red Apples were created.

Everyday school supplies include; pencils, notebooks, crayons, hand sanitizer, etc.

Green Apple

These apples are intended to provide a big-ticket item for the teachers. These supplies are typically something that the teachers can use for more than one school year.

Examples include; a class-set of computers or new furniture for the classroom.

Suggested donation amount: $500+