When I came into office, I ran on a very particular stance, if you will, or platform, in regard to common core. My main issue with it was getting our standards in Arizona back under our control so we could tailor them specifically to our children’s, our students’, needs. Very early on, I was able to get a release from the copyright. We have since moved through the process of getting the board to repeal common core as the official standard and now we have new standards that in place. I am very proud of that work because it was important to me to keep my word, to the commitment that I made to the voters, even though I received pushback, in the beginning, from people who did not want to see that change.
There are a couple of other items that I am proud of, and wanted to highlight. One of those was staying in touch with the people of Arizona. Too often, we see elected officials, when they are asking for our votes, and then post-election, we do not see them for another four years. So, what we created is the “We are Listening Tour” or, what we affectionately refer to is as, the WALT tour. Since its inception, we have had almost sixty town hall meetings throughout Arizona. These events were so much more than conversations with local communities. These events have helped pave the way each year in educational planning. With items ranging from pay raises for teachers, additional recess time for our children, the quality of our services in regards to nutrition, as well as curriculum standards. We have done this plan annually for the last three years.
We continually update the plan as well as let the citizens know what we have been able to implement. Some of these items go to our legislators, some items go straight to the governor, and some items we are able to enact internally. We have revamped old, and implemented new, checks and balances, internally, within our office. With all due respect to previous administrations, we have corrected key issues within the grant distribution system. Our team has developed a new internal process to ensure that the lack of efficiency no longer occurs. There are now program personnel looking at it, a finance team looking at it, so now our schools, in essence our children, are receiving their money earlier than they have before. With grants submitted by May 1st, they are able to start drawing upon those allocations by July 1st, which is truly amazing. This is the earliest any of our schools have been able to accomplish this. Our new history social science and science standards are another item our team has been able to complete. These new standards are now open for public review on our website, AZDE.GOV/Standards.
I encourage everyone to visit this open forum and give us their feedback. More than anything, the largest grievance that parents have is the lack of knowledge our children have pertaining to our history; constitutional history as well as the history of our founding fathers. How are we going to maintain the integrity of this country without our children having this base knowledge? Which is something I feel very strongly about. These are just a few of the things that we have worked diligently on over the last three years to complete and will continue working on in the year to come.