If we are to accomplish Priority One, we must focus like we did when we wanted to get a man on the moon before the Soviets. I still remember standing in a group and cheering as Neil Armstrong, who recently passed away, famously stated “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I was proud, America was proud. Reestablishing a vibrant middle class, will insure America’s long-term success and make us all proud once again.
To succeed, we need first-rate leaders who are kid-centered, dynamic, entrepreneurial, and “get it”.
Next, we need great teachers; that means teachers who possess excellent content knowledge, great teaching technique, the ability to differentiate their instruction so that each child is taught at a challenging level, and, finally, and most importantly, the ability to “connect” with kids. Unlike the perception, in most districts the average teacher busts their rear every day. The good news is, if led well, the vast majority of our teachers have the talent, dedication, and commitment to kids to get it done.
Thirdly, kids CANNOT be allowed to fall between the cracks. Virtually all kids, regardless of background, will choose to succeed if they work with a teacher that CONNECTS with them personally.
The ability to CONNECT comes at a price. I love technology but the chances of making “connection” with an at-risk kid over the Internet are slim to none. When a kid has started to fall through the cracks, he stops falling and starts climbing up the ladder to success when a teacher CONNECTS with him, eyeball to eyeball and heart to heart, in a small group, at the appropriate educational level four times a day.
Today’s Arizona legislator will say, “We can’t possibly fund that.” And I say, “You can’t afford not to.”
Quality education for all is a necessity if Arizona is to become the state we deserve. Necessity means priority. Arizona should fund its priorities; they call that a Choice.