Tag: Cronkite News

Head Start makeover offers opportunities, challenges to program’s backers

| November 2, 2016
Head Start makeover offers opportunities, challenges to program’s backers

Head Start “has done a lot of good in the past 50 years,” but the first early education program in the U.S. is due for a change, said Jonathon Gonzales, executive director of the Arizona Head Start Association.

That change started Tuesday via a 118-page “comprehensive” rewrite of Head Start rules, the first such overhaul in more than 40 years.

The changes will be phased in over several years, with the biggest impact likely to be the requirement that programs shift to a full-day offering by 2021. Most of the 14 programs in Arizona currently provide half-day school-readiness classes for toddlers and young children, Gonzales said.

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Fighting to regulate full-day kindergarten in Arizona

| November 2, 2016
Fighting to regulate full-day kindergarten in Arizona

Marissa Chavez’s kindergarten students often play teacher, taking turns pointing to an alphabet card while the other students sit cross-legged on the floor.

“M-m-m-m-m,” they chant, sounding out the 13th letter of the alphabet.

“It looks like they’re playing, but they’re not,” Chavez said. By the end of the school year, Chavez said, these English-language learners should speak English fluently.

Chavez, a teacher at Bret R. Tarver Elementary School, said that is likely to happen because her 25 kindergarten students are in class for 6 1/2-hours a day, or full-day kindergarten. The optional program is much longer than the state-required half-day kindergarten, which amounts to 2 1/2 hours in the classroom.

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A decade after recession, Arizona schools still suffer from budget cuts

| October 26, 2016
A decade after recession, Arizona schools still suffer from budget cuts

When Pinnacle High School physics teacher Mike Vargas needed motion sensors so his freshman students could engage in a special experiment, he didn’t look to his school board for funding.

Vargas instead turned to Donors Choose, a crowdfunding network for public school teachers to get books, classroom supplies or materials for report released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

State funding per pupil in Arizona is down 36.6 percent since the start of the Great Recession, reductions that have been compounded by additional cuts to the income tax rate in subsequent years.

The center report said Arizona is one of just five states with both deep reductions in general school funding and an income tax cut, which has hindered a recovery in school budgets even though the recession officially ended in June 2009.

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AZ educators get creative in finding solutions to growing teacher shortage

| October 12, 2016
AZ educators get creative in finding solutions to growing teacher shortage

Suzanne Zentner stood in front of the high school students and their parents gathered in the library of Gilbert High School on a recent evening and got right to the point.

“Instead of dancing around issues, I’m going to find the elephant in the room, and I’m going to hit it,” Zentner told them. “The biggest myth out there, and I’m going to challenge that myth, is that there is no way you can make a living as a teacher.”

The crowd had gathered because the students had expressed interest in teaching. They are taking part in Aim2Teach, a program aimed at identifying students who may want to teach and helping guide them into professional teaching programs.

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Navajo, feds sign agreement giving tribe greater control over schools. See more Navajo Hopi-Observer education stories here

| October 5, 2016
Navajo, feds sign agreement giving tribe greater control over schools. See more Navajo Hopi-Observer education stories here

Federal officials signed an agreement with Navajo leaders Sept. 27 giving the tribe the authority to implement a single set of standards, assessments and accountability measures for tribal schools that are scattered over three states.

Before the agreement between Navajo officials and the secretaries of Education and the Interior, the tribe’s 66 Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools were subject to regulation by Arizona, New Mexico, Utah or the BIE.

“You’re not dealing with the complexities of three different states and three different sets of rules as you take on how to instill a great education … that honors the rich culture and language of the Navajo Nation,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said at the signing ceremony.

Jewell said that has not always been the “case over the hundreds of years of education that was done to you, as opposed to with you.”

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Teacher of year uses White House visit to urge school support

| May 11, 2016
Teacher of year uses White House visit to urge school support

Arizona Teacher of the Year Christine Marsh said education in the state is “under attack,” echoing President Barack Obama’s call May 3 for more funding for education during a White House ceremony to honor teachers.

“In too many states, we are underfunding public education,” Obama told the supportive audience in the East Room, calling on state legislators and governors to keep in mind the importance of education in their communities.

Marsh, who teaches AP English to juniors and seniors at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, was one of the teachers of the year from every state and territory invited to the White House event.

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Gagnon leaving Page when school year ends. See more area education stories here

| March 23, 2016
Gagnon leaving Page when school year ends. See more area education stories here

Page High School Principal Paul Gagnon announced this month that he has taken a principal position at Queen Creek High School near southeastern Phoenix, and will be leaving the Page Unified School District at the end of the current school year.

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Prop 123: ‘Vote Yes’ campaign pushes education message across state; ‘Vote No’ hoping to protect land trust

| February 17, 2016
Prop 123: ‘Vote Yes’ campaign pushes education message across state; ‘Vote No’ hoping to protect land trust

With May’s special election fast approaching, supporters and opponents of Proposition 123 – the multi-billion dollar proposal to divert money from the Arizona land trust to boost education funding – are trying get their voters to the polls.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey developed the plan and state lawmakers set the May 17 election to put it in front of voters. It would allocate $3.5 billion to state education during the next 10 years. Funding would be split in two parts. Most of the money – about $2 billion – will come from the state’s land trusts and the remainder will come from the general fund.

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Flagstaff counselor honored at White House as counselor of the year

| February 3, 2016
Flagstaff counselor honored at White House as counselor of the year

WASHINGTON – Flagstaff High School guidance counselor Katherine Pastor said it’s enough to know her work helps make a difference in students’ lives – but the hugs from Michelle Obama were probably nice to get, too.

The first lady on Thursday named Pastor the 2016 counselor of the year, singling her out from 42 other guidance counselors from around the country who were at the White House to be honored for their work.

“In just seven short years, Flagstaff High School has seen a 13 percent increase in college acceptance rates and a 50 percent increase in the number of colleges that visit their campus,” Obama said during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

She said Pastor “wants nothing more than to see students succeed and become the best versions of themselves.”

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Arizona still gets D+ on schools report card, despite some modest gains

| January 27, 2016
Arizona still gets D+ on schools report card, despite some modest gains

Arizona student test scores stayed level from 2013 to 2015 while scores nationally declined slightly, but the state’s marginal gains were not enough to lift it out of the bottom ranks on a new national report card.

Arizona got a grade of D+ and was ranked 45th among states in the annual ranking by Education Week, which put the state’s level of school funding and its poverty achievement gap near the bottom in the nation.

The state’s poor performance in the Education Week report was cited last week by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas in her State of Education address to the Arizona House Education Committee, saying it indicated a continual need for progress in education.

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