I’ve worked as a teacher for twenty years. It’s not just my career – it’s my passion.
AGING Schools & materials
More than 8 out of 10 Arizona students attend public schools, yet local districts struggle to fund their programs adequately. Buildings, text books, technology, and buses are aging. Some communities support their schools with bonds and overrides, but others do not. This has led to unequal funding across the state.
FULLY-FUNDING our schools
Investing in education isn’t just good for children – it’s good for our state’s future. Strong school systems will encourage businesses to relocate to (or remain in) Arizona. Businesses demand a well-educated workforce, and their employees want their children to attend great schools.
I believe education should be fully-funded, P-20 (preschool-university or workforce). There is much work to be done. During the 54th Legislature, we considered many ideas including funding preschool programs, poverty weights, changing the funding for special education, funding gifted education, allowing four-year degrees at community colleges and more.
When we discuss fully-funded schools, we cannot forget about the teachers. We should pay our teachers for their educational training and years of experience. We must consider that a large number of teachers are of retirement age, and the numbers of college students choosing to pursue a career in education is declining. We do not have enough certified teachers who are willing to teach to cover all the classrooms in Arizona. In recent years, we have expanded the Teacher’s Academy in an effort to entice more people into becoming educators.
Another component that is of great importance is the mental health of our community. In the last decade, there have been a large number of young people who have died of suicide in the Southeast Valley. East Valley legislators, including myself, have worked on bills to help this serious issue including: suicide prevention training for students grades 6-12 as well as staff; mental health parity-which would require insurers to cover mental health as well as physical health, and bills to increase the number of school counselors and school social workers on campus.
The closure of school buildings this spring due to COVID-19 really accentuated the challenges schools face. Unequal access to technology, including equipment & broadband, made reaching all students difficult. Some students (younger ones and students with disabilities) struggled to use the on-line platforms. As schools are reopened for the 20-21 school year, educators and legislators will need to be flexible so that students can be successful regardless of whether they are in the school building or not. I am chairing a work group that focuses on the needs of schools as they operate during a pandemic.