focus magn glass

Clarity through Focus (Part 2) and #RedforEd

Yolanda Wheelington Assessment, Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Professional Development, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership, Uncategorized

What I discovered at our school was something that we already knew: Although we are an urban-based public school within a district with issues mirroring the nation, we had little to no annual teacher turnover. Our students return to a

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images

Hitting the Like Button: Using Social Media to Grow an Online Community

Leah Clark Professional Development, Uncategorized

I joined Facebook in 2002 when you had to have a college email address to sign up for the social media site. Each day I checked my account in anticipation of the new friend requests I received. Over the years,

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Do We Really Need 200 School Districts?
 
Stories from School Blogger Beth Maloney recently wrote the article The Problem with Teacher Pay in Arizona and One Possible Solution .  This interesting piece proposes that a statewide salary schedule will equalize pay for teachers while considering qualifications and experience. It is also a way to secure teacher retention.  I am in agreement with Maloney that this is something worth serious consideration.  
Her article made me think about my early years as a teacher. I came into this field as a second career.  I was advised to shop around before signing a contract because a neighboring district could pay a good deal more or less than the one I just interviewed with.  I did not understand this.  I grew up on the east coast and attended the Prince George's County School District. Although my schools were spaced far apart, they were all housed under the same framework.  
I was shocked to learn that here in AZ, there are districts across the street from each other. In addition to this, each district had its own pay schedule and administrative staff from Superintendent on down. I remember thinking how wasteful this seemed. How different could these families, students, teachers, and communities be to justify this type of cost? Especially when it comes to administration.
Based on the answers I received and my research, I learned that that having multiple districts allow for local control which supports autonomy. As a teacher, I fully understand that. Yet, when funding is a major contributor to Arizona's current education crisis, I wonder if this level of independence is something that we can afford.  How much of our education budget is actually hitting the classroom?  
According to the report on Arizona's school district spending for Fiscal Year 2016 , Arizona spends 53.5% of our education budget on instruction. This is 7.3% less than the national average.  At 10.4%, we are below the national average for administrative spending by .5%.  In addition to this, we spend more on everything else in the budget (plant operations, food services, transportation, student support, and instruction support). These areas have a direct impact on the classroom but are not linked under instruction.  Grouping student and instructional support with instruction would boost our cost per student to 67.4%, but still leaves us behind the national average by 3.8%.  
These numbers make me wonder if there is still room to crunch down the administrative overhead of our education system.  Regardless of the national average, decreasing the number of districts would: 
•	decrease the administrative budget
•	free up funds for direct instruction costs
•	allow resources to be shared without replication 
•	support uninterrupted education and services to mobile families 
•	provide continuity to teachers transitioning to other schools across the state
•	support retention of teachers that need to secure employment due to a change in location
When coupled with a statewide salary schedule, this unification and commonality across the state would make an even stronger impact on education.
I am proud of the recent teacher movements that are happening across the nation. I also support our #REDFORED movement here in  Arizona. In addition to self-advocacy, it is important to take fiscal responsibility and be creative with resources currently available. Especially when asking for more can easily equate to an increase in taxes.  So, again I ask if it is in our best interest to continue to fund the 200+ school districts here in Arizona or should we find a way to collaborate?
Additional resources to chew on:
Can Arizona Afford 217 School Districts?
Education Spending Per Student by State
Total School Districts, Student Enrollment by State and Metro Area
photo credit: wuestenigelWoman's finger pointing at Bucharest City Map via photopin (license)

Do We Really Need 200 School Districts?

Yolanda Wheelington Assessment, Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Professional Development, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership, Uncategorized

Stories from School Blogger Beth Maloney recently wrote the article The Problem with Teacher Pay in Arizona and One Possible Solution .  This interesting piece proposes that a statewide salary schedule will equalize pay for teachers while considering qualifications and

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we are more than king

African American Influence on U.S. Government

Yolanda Wheelington Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Professional Development, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership

African American Influence on U.S. Government   As February winds down, let’s remember that the celebration of African American influence does not have to end. In honor of this, we will take a look at some of the ways that

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we are more than king

We Are More Than Dr. King

Yolanda Wheelington Current Affairs, Education, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Professional Development, Social Issues, Uncategorized

I was blessed to grow up in the rich African American (Black) culture that resides in the Washington, D.C. area. I saw our good and bad, our strengths and weaknesses, our beauty and shame wherever I looked. I was secure…I

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E-learning and education

Online Learning: Building Relationships in the Digital Age

Leah Clark Education, Life in the Classroom

This week, I began teaching an online class. I have little experience in online education. I started my undergraduate degree when AOL still used instant messaging. Online classes were rare; in fact, I think I took one biology lecture and

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photo credit: Thompson Rivers Click the link to watch the video: Intro to the Writing Centre via photopin (license)

A Jonah Day aka Academic Struggle in High Achieviers

Yolanda Wheelington Assessment, Current Affairs, Education, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Literacy, Love, Mathematics, Mentoring, Parent Involvment, Science, Social Issues, Uncategorized, Web/Tech, Weblogs

There I stood in my lovely class of 1st – 3rd graders with 29 eagerly engaged students and 3 crying in agony. The cries were not from physical pain, but the emotional turmoil that sets in when we sit in places of discomfort.

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