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Required Reading: What Every Educator Should Read

Leah Clark Current Affairs, Education, Life in the Classroom, Professional Development, Social Issues, Uncategorized

A social media trend took over this summer. As I scrolled through my feed, my friends began posting their “7 Day Challenges” ranging from books, music, movies, and personal photos. The challenge required participants to post pictures of their seven

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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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photo credit: Chris Kealy (Day)Dream Catcher via photopin (license)

“The Dream Catcher” or The Girl Who Championed Self Doubt

Yolanda Wheelington Assessment, Education, Education Policy, Elementary, Life in the Classroom, Love, Mathematics, Mentoring, Professional Development, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership, Uncategorized

I’m not sure if she was solving multiplication problems with the Checkerboard or working in Read Naturally when I called her over. I noticed she took a deep breath and had that faraway look in her eyes, but she shook

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Invisible Data

Amethyst Hinton Sainz Assessment, Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, National Board Certification

I indulge my yearning to simply immerse myself in teaching and with my students without having to collect easily-reportable data for folks not involved in my classroom. One solution is to provide funding or change the school day to allow teachers more time to gather data for public consumption and for use in the classroom.

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Reform or Deform: Which is it?

Alaina Adams Assessment, Books, Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, National Board Certification, Professional Development, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership

  Like its sister-term, “accountability,” the term “reform” has had a few minutes of fame in education this year (see this swell piece by blogger-extraordinaire Nancy Flanagan). Here, Flanagan blatantly opens her piece with the statement, “Hello my name is

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leaving-the-classroom

Leaving the Classroom?

Alaina Adams Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Mentoring, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership

So I’m reading Katy Farber’s book, Why Great Teachers Quit: And How We Might Stop the Exodus, which explores the demands, challenges, and rewards experienced by classroom teachers across the country who are staying in the trenches of public education

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if-i-had-a-film-crew

If I Had a Film Crew

Alaina Adams Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Mentoring, Parent Involvment, Professional Development, Social Issues, Teacher Leadership

I, rarely, watch movies about teachers – mainly because it drives my husband nuts when I yell at the screen because a teacher has pulled a karate move with inner city students, has placed chains on doors to lock out crime, or is connected

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