Letter | Political ideology is ruining education

Why do Arizona citizens act like educating our children is the same as voting for another welfare benefit? The cost of educating our children is an investment in our future, not an entitlement program.

So far Arizona voters would rather pay for incarceration, not education. School funding in Arizona is a joke, but no one is laughing. Those of you who voted down the 1-percent sales tax increase for teacher pay have shown a lack of respect for both teachers and children. Yet you are not alone, as this attitude is reflected in the state legislature as well as the governor’s office.

What a sad and embarrassing legacy for our children.

Are Arizona citizens sick of the overreach of the Arizona Department of Education yet? This recent school grading process shows how the ADE has made Arizona schools a tragic example of what happens when you bring the government into the classroom. The Arizona Department of Education worships big government.

Thanks to “Race to the Top,” we received the gift of common core standards with federal strings attached that are still alive and well in the AzMerit test. The ADE loves an excuse to spend nonexistent money on new tests coupled with more unfunded mandates for schools in the form of complicated and immeasurable state standards and evaluation tools.

Every minute of the classroom is being micromanaged by this assessment-crazed behemoth to the point of being a stranglehold on each school, classroom, and teacher.

The ADE takes all the joy out of teaching, leaving little or no time for teachers to do the most important part of their job – bond with their students. And people wonder why we have a teacher shortage.

To add insult to injury, Governor Doug Ducey wants to lower teacher qualifications to attract more people to the teaching profession. Instead of dealing with the underlying issues, the state of Arizona ignores them.

Besides big government lovers, we have open border proponents who gush at the thought of overcrowded classrooms of low functioning students draining the very few education dollars received from the king’s table. In Arizona, we cannot afford to be all things to all children.

To complicate things, many local districts mirror the big government, top-down, authoritarian leadership of the state. What has happened to shared leadership? Why can’t teachers have ownership of their classrooms, or principals have ownership of their schools? It certainly is not happening in my area.

Finally, the enabling, snowflake mentality has permeated the disciplinary structures of our educational system to the point that, in some schools, students are in charge. Teachers that use discipline or expect students to work hard for their grades are threatened with job loss. Having no standards for behavior or academic performance is the current law of the classroom.

What should be done?

Reduce the focus of the ADE to include teacher certification and accountability. Use a comparable test already in existence that has clear, measurable standards unlike common core. Measuring all levels of students with one test is impossible, so why are we doing it?

After eighth grade, students should be assessed according to their semester grades in their areas of interest, putting teachers back in charge of mastery. College-bound students can be assessed by using the ACT or SAT tests already in existence.

Arizona citizens must put children first by enabling them to have a safe, nurturing learning environment. Vote for a tax increase if necessary. Support a reduction in the size and scope of the ADE with more school choice for parents and students. They can be a better judge of successful schools than the Department of Education.

Corporate private funds need to lead the way, so communities can be assured of a future work force.

Dorothy Buckelew, Golden Valley Resident