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Guest Opinion

Superintendent's Thoughts

Ajo Copper News of Ajo, Arizona

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I had the opportunity to attend a SALC, Southern Arizona Leadership Council, meeting in Tucson on January 8, 2014. The purpose of this meeting was to bring together advocates for public education in southern Arizona. Dr. Ron Marx, who is the Dean of the UofA, College of Education, was the keynote speaker. The purpose of this meeting was to bring together advocates for public education in southern Arizona. It was good to see local political figures, business leaders, school district superintendents, teachers, and university leaders in attendance. In Dr. Marx comments he presented some alarming statistics about the performance of students in Arizona. We need to make a change.

Arizona students' performance on AIMS is less than what we as educators wish it to be. Seventy four percent of Arizona's 4th grade students are not proficient in reading. Sixty-seven percent of

Arizona's 4lh graders are not proficient in math. Sixty-six percent of Arizona's 4th high school graduates are not prepared for college level math. It should be obvious to the casual observer that we need to not only raise our standards, but our students' performance.

Eighty-five percent of the jobs our students will apply for as young adults will require a college degree or technical training. Using the statistics presented by Dr. Marx, our students will be challenged to make that goal.

Funding fixes things. In the late 1980s, Arizona school children were funded at about 36lh in the nation. Today they are funded at 47,h or 48th depending upon which report one reads. This is unfortunate. We should value our next generation's and our nation's future more than that. It is said that we invest in what we value. As a state, let us demonstrate that we value young people, not just give them lip service. At this time in our state we as taxpayers pay over $22,000 for each juvenile per year that is incarcerated in the juvenile penal system. At this time in our state we are paying less than $7,800 for each student's public education. Which do we value?

Funding brings about results if done properly. I believe we can provide results given proper funding and being held accountable by our clients to do so. We have proven that here in the Ajo Unified School District in the past 2lA years. To improve students' academic performance throughout over nation, we must raise our expectations of them.

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Original Publication Date: January 29, 2014

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