Janet Napolitano on Education
Democratic AZ Governor; Designee for Secretary of Homeland Security
Yet, as always, there is more to do. We must build on what we have begun. Expanded resources must translate into ever-increasing levels of student achievement. The proportion of our education funds spent in the classroom must increase. The professional status--and the pay--of our classroom teachers must continue to improve.
Today's short-term budget decisions must not harm the long-term future of Arizona's children. If this Legislature cuts classroom spending, the people of Arizona will recognize such a cut for what it is--not a budget necessity, but a willful and unwise choice.
We must look at higher education in the same way. In the past six years, we have institutionalized the P-20 model in Arizona, which recognizes the reality that education is not neatly segmented, but is instead a continuum of learning that begins at birth and lasts well into a chosen career path.
A: I support school choice. Arizona has one of the nation’s largest populations of charter schools, and parents have a wide variety of choices available to them for their children’s education. I believe that this system is sufficient to provide for adequate school choice without utilizing additional public resources for a state-sponsored voucher system.
Create World-Class Public Schools
Now more than ever, quality public education is the key to equal opportunity and upward mobility in America. Yet our neediest children often attend the worst schools. While lifting the performance of all schools, we must place special emphasis on strengthening those institutions serving, and too often failing, low-income students.
To close this achievement and opportunity gap, underperforming public schools need more resources, and above all, real accountability for results. Accountability means ending social promotion, measuring student performance with standards-based assessments, and testing teachers for subject-matter competency.
As we demand accountability, we should ensure that every school has the resources needed to achieve higher standards, including safe and modern physical facilities, well-paid teachers and staff, and opportunities for remedial help after school and during summers. Parents, too, must accept greater responsibility for supporting their children’s education.
We need greater choice, competition, and accountability within the public school system, not a diversion of public funds to private schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers. With research increasingly showing the critical nature of learning in the early years, we should move toward universal access to pre-kindergarten education.
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