Is “Average” Good Enough for Arizonans When It Comes to Education?

Posted on: August 17, 2009

When it comes to education in Arizona, there are signs that we are becoming complacent in our hopes and aspirations for what education can and should be. Last week’s Republic article even informed us that the demise of Arizona education may be overstated. So, instead of expecting Arizona’s education system to be a national model for quality education and to have our students leading the pack, we accept and often celebrate average achievement.

Experts on all sides of the education debate can argue a compelling a case in support of their position on test scores, rankings and the comparability of national and international benchmarks. Our schools are improving: dropout rates are going down and standards are getting more rigorous. But, even if we accept that we are closer to the middle than the bottom, the question for Arizonans remains, “Is that good enough?”

By national measures, our state, at best, is getting a “C” in education. If your children came home with all C’s on their report cards, would you accept it without question and not challenge them to study harder? If you were an employer with employees who were average workers, would you accept it as all they had to give? In looking for someone to fix your brakes, build your home or perform a surgery, you don’t seek average, you find the best.

As parents and employers and as a community, it’s our responsibility to provide the encouragement and support needed for all students to achieve higher standards, and even better, to excel. Even students who perform well in our schools can still struggle in work and college because they may not be adequately prepared to succeed. Isn’t it up to us to help them be more prepared?

Expect More Arizona is a growing movement of Arizonans who not only want, but expect more of education in our state. We support education and educators because we want students to have the greatest opportunities, employers to have access to a pipeline of talented individuals, and Arizonans to have a high quality of life. We believe that Arizona education can lead us to a bright future, and we accept that it will take time, money and significant effort from all of us to get there.

As the school year begins, let’s encourage our students to strive for more than average. Let’s also spend less time debating where we stand as a state and more effort developing ways to get us to the top. It’s time to expect more from our schools, from our students, and from ourselves. It’s time to raise the bar. Our children deserve nothing less and Arizona’s future depends on it.

Submitted by the board of Expect More Arizona

Category: College and Career Readiness, Early Grade Success, Foundation Feature, Innovative, Postsecondary Completion

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