(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Today is the final day of session in Arizona, and I am thrilled to say that it looks like major pieces of the Florida reform cocktail will be passing. These include grading schools A-F based on student test scores and growth, alternative teacher certification, 3rd grade social promotion curtailment, expanding sources for charter school authorization, and increasing the size, transparency and accountability for our scholarship tax credit program. Arizona lawmakers also passed a provision specifying that school districts cannot use length of service as the sole criteria when laying off teachers during a reduction in force.
Governor Bush and Patricia Levesque spent their valuable time here in Arizona last October in a series of events, and Patricia came back a few months ago to do followup meetings with key players. Key philanthropic leaders stepped up to the plate with both their money and their personal time. Governor Brewer and her staff prioritized Florida reforms in her State of the State address, and the Chairmen of the Senate and House Education committees, Senator John Huppenthal and Rep. Rich Crandall, personally introduced the centerpiece bills. Many of the bills gathered strong bipartisan support.
We have many miles to go in Arizona. Our NAEP scores have been below the national average 36 out of the last 36 exams. We aim to change that, and we know it isn’t going to happen overnight, and that much hard work lies ahead. We’ve taken the first steps to turning our illiteracy crisis around, and I am enormously grateful to all of the many people who helped make this happen!