Updates

#InvestInEd

August 30, 2018

In the Supreme Court’s decision to disallow Arizona to vote on #InvestinEd neither the organizers nor the believers deserve the blame for losing a linguistic legal battle fought by the most elite of both political ideologies, the lawyers and judges. It’s historic. Hundreds of thousands of people were just told “no” by the Arizona justice system.

 

Although unfortunate, it’s not unpredictable. The Chamber of Commerce did what any political opponent with the advantage would do: use every wrench in their toolbox to enact their will.

 

We must not forget that education did not get us here, policy and law got us here. The current Governor’s actions to expand the Supreme Court from five to seven justices and decades of regressive taxes and tax cuts by elected politicians caused this crisis. Society needs to fix society’s problems through initiatives that share the #InvestInEd spirit. Democratic principles like the belief that government programs work when they’re adequately funded. Ask your candidates: What does prosperity for students look like to you and how are we getting there?  Everyone needs to continue challenging the status quo and create a radical new way of honoring our children’s contributions today for their full potential tomorrow.


STATEMENT REGARDING ARIZONA SCIENCE AND SOCIAL STUDY STANDARDS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION REVISIONS

May 28, 2018

The office of Superintendent of Public Instruction should support the professionalism of educators rather than undermine it. Drastically changing the standards to omit climate change and support her personal beliefs and religious doctrine undermines decades of professionalism performed by scores of science teacher public servants.  

 

Superintendent Diane Douglas and the Arizona Department of Education have overreached and undermined the educator and science community when revising social studies and science standards. The intent of the standards is to set the expectations for students and teachers in the State of Arizona. Diana Douglas undermines the science community by eliminating and questioning the scientific legitimacy of evolution and includes a binary positive/negative moral framework to science. The social studies standards revision oversteps into the realm of curriculum by adding “Suggestions for key concepts and connections to other content area standards.”  The standards are framework, not a curriculum. Arizona’s children deserve a standards framework that is up to par with the science community, and social study standards that leave curriculum decisions up to the local level. Furthermore, the link to participate in public comment has been closed as of noon on May 28 despite saying public comment is available till May 28.

Osborn School District Board Writes Resolution Supporting Trauma Informed Practices

Aces Connection – May 9th, 2018

At the Osborn Governing School District board meeting, on March 20, 2018, the Phoenix, AZ-located board approved a resolution supporting trauma-informed practices in their district.  Over the past three years the board studied Adverse Childhood Experiences, reviewed discipline and achievement data, and heard first hand accounts from school leadership and teachers about the needs of students in their community.

The resolution states, “the Osborn Elementary School District Governing Board commits to crafting policies that institutionalize trauma-informed practices; and commits to supporting the training of teachers and support staff on trauma-informed practices and investing in social-emotional curricula.”

“It’s my hope that the resolution garners attention, partnerships and funding so that our students can get the best education in Osborn. As a district, we are dedicated to trauma-informed practices and teaching resilience in a manner that is supported by science. At this point, we need our state and national leaders to catch up to the classroom.” says Katie Paetz, Osborn Governing Board President.

The resolution ends, “Furthermore, the Governing Board of the Osborn Elementary School District directs the Superintendent to foster partnerships with community groups and education services agencies that commit to trauma-informed practices and restorative justice. Finally, the Osborn Elementary School District Governing Board urges the Arizona Department of Education, the Arizona State Board of Education, and the Arizona State Legislature to fund and support programs that include restorative justice, trauma-informed practices, social-emotional wellness, and mental health services.”


My Turn – A case for conscious gift giving

Arizona Republic Article – Online Publication, December 23, 2017

With the holidays in full swing and the giving spirit in the air, many of us want to contribute by donating toys to children. It’s a great tradition. The problem lies when our boys get balls and our girls get dolls.

 

I’m a kindergarten teacher who spends a great deal of time creating experiences, asking and answering questions to help my students make sense of the world around them. We discuss culture, science, stories and math while I simultaneously teach social skills. I stress that their actions and words define them and how they will be held accountable. I’ve spent hundreds of hours creating a culture in my classroom that supports my students beyond skin deep descriptors. I do this because it is consistent with our mission as an education institution to empower students to achieve economic access, opportunity and success in tomorrow’s society.

 

So when well-intentioned organizations partner with our school to provide gifts to our students and the toys are gendered—perpetuating stereotypes that “boys play sports” and “girls playhouse”—I say “Stop.”

 

As board president in a neighboring district, I uphold laws and approve policy stating we will not discriminate based on sex or gender. Our mission is to provide the best education for our students so they can succeed. We accept the spectrum of experience and identity, and our families choose us because we are dedicated to this approach.

 

You may ask, “Why does it matter what gifts we give our children? What’s the big deal about a doll?”

 

It matters because the experiences we provide for students will shape their expectations of the world. We set this vision in schools during a time where there still exists gender inequities in our society. Women earned 83% of what men earned in 2015, and at the current rate of change in pay, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2119! My students graduating in 2030 will experience economic inequality based solely on their gender. This affects their choices, their families, and their children.  Schools interested in providing equality and equity in educational outcomes cannot be complicent with the status quo.

 

Whether our students are male, female, transgender, or somewhere inbetween, it is not for schools or outside organizations to define them. It’s up to them and their families. Imagine explaining to my student, Emma—who enjoys climbing trees (and sometimes bathroom stalls)—why she can’t get a ball and has to accept a doll. Imagine the confusion she feels when nothing else about my instruction has ever indicated the expectations were different for her because she was a girl. The good intent of a gendered gift is not worth negative impacts on our students’ perspectives of themselves and their peers.

 

To organizations and consumers who donate gifts this holiday season: choose gender-neutral toys. Leave dolls on the shelf. Puzzles, Play-Doh, crayons, musical instruments, markers, notebooks, construction paper, watercolors, KNex and Lego’s are great gifts for our children that will support their precious human potential.

Unyielding policies are driving good teachers out of classroom

AZ Central Article – Sept. 24, 2014

Arizona teachers are leaving the profession in large numbers. The practice of accountability at any cost has caused our schools immeasurable harm by driving away highly educated, passionate individuals who are exhausted from implementing policies written by people who lack the knowledge and expertise to understand what it means to educate.

Our school districts’ working conditions vary as greatly as the people within them. I have worked in a variety of public-school settings. Whether my colleagues and I show up to work tired from second and third jobs or to school buildings that are falling apart, we continue to educate. We stay because we make a difference to our students.

When the system that is there to support us fails to give us choices on education decisions or allow us to create assessments that measure those experiences, eventually that failure weighs too heavily and becomes unhealthy. An education system that does not honor the educator as one of the most powerful supports in a child’s life fails to realize the value of local leaders.

Learning is more than scoring well. Learning is the “a-ha” moment and the experience built around that. Those who have the courage to teach commit to a dialogue with the learner built on trust, support and accountability. Why doesn’t our state of education?