As the end of the school year approaches, students in Phoenix look forward to summer break. And, for many, thoughts of the upcoming fall semester have disappeared as quickly as the pictures hanging in their lockers. Yet, as kids' minds shift to summer fun, an important change awaits them at the start of the next school year, one that will help better prepare them for work and college: the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
I know a few things about the state of our education system. My brother, sister, and I were military kids, which meant moving from school to school -- a lot. I have lost track of the number of times we moved before I hit the 9th grade. I attended my fair share of schools in a number of states. This made learning difficult. Each state had different academic standards. For me, that meant the knowledge I had accumulated to get an 'A' on my math test in one state was sometimes not even good enough to get a me a 'C' in another.
But, for military kids like me -- and the majority of kids across the country -- this is about to change as CCSS go into effect at the start of the next school year. The standards, which have been adopted by 47 states including Arizona, were developed by a consortium of educators, state school chiefs, and governors. A state-led effort with strong bipartisan support, CCSS will not only ensure Arizona's kids are prepared to excel in the workforce and college, but they will also ensure that students across state lines are taught to the same standards; meaning my 'A' would still be an 'A' if I moved from Arizona to Massachusetts.
We need to prepare our kids for their futures and provide them with the tools necessary to enter college and the workforce -- and to compete against students not only across the country but across the world. But, we have a lot of work to do in Arizona to get there. Fifty-three percent of our high school graduates do not qualify to enroll in our state's public universities and 22 percent do not graduate on time. It's clear from these numbers that our kids are in trouble. How can we expect them to be prepared to enter a global workforce when many are struggling to make it out of high school?
Common Core offers a light at the end of the tunnel. The standards will help to drastically improve the quality of education we give to our students by providing a uniform set of high expectations for student learning. We have the responsibility to do right by the kids and families in our state. In Arizona especially, we know it will take all hands on deck to improve academic outcomes and options for Arizona's children.
As Director of Democrats for Education Reform Arizona -- which recently launched in the state -- and a person that understands the drastic need to reform our education system, I urge you to join us in supporting CCSS. Help us in our fight to provide a high-quality education for all of Arizona's kids.