Arizona lawmakers forward reforms for parent choice and transparency

Arizona State Senator Lori Klein forwarded the Goldwater Institute’s parent choice legislation this week. Klein proposed S1389 (schools; parental intervention), which would allow the parents of students who attend a failing school to shut it down, convert it to a charter school or replace the principal.

The law is based on California’s “Parent Trigger Law.” S1389 requires a school board to take action requested by parents if more than 50 percent of the parents of children enrolled in the school sign a petition.

Klein met with public school advocates from Tucson’s TU4SD, to discuss other reform measures, including adding more parent and community member spots on school site councils, and requiring school curricula to be posted on district websites.

Republican House lawmakers Heather Carter (R- Dist. 7) and Bob Robson (R- Dist 20) have introduced HB 2161 which will create a new teacher’s certification that allows educators instructing Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) classes at collegiate levels to also be able to teach at the K-12 levels.

Following Governor Brewer’s 2010 $100,000 allocation for the establishment of a Statewide STEM Action Network, Representatives Carter and Robson have followed through with the creation of certification that would allow for STEM “highly qualified educators” (As defined by federal law) to receive a new certification that would allow them to teach interchangeably between the K-12 and collegiate levels so long as they:

1. Submit proof of providing instruction in STEM courses at an accredited postsecondary education institution for the last two consecutive years and a total of three years.

2. Possess a baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM subject or pass an SBE-recognized statewide educator assessment in a STEM subject.

3. Obtain a valid fingerprint clearance card.

4. Meet the federal qualifications for a highly qualified teacher.

Representative Carter expressed her sense of urgency in passing this bill stating, “All throughout the state a significant number of educator job postings are being left unfilled by qualified individuals simply because they are not properly certified”. Rep Carter further emphasized her sentiments stating, “We have a real need for content area experts especially in Science and Mathematics. That is why this bill has broad stakeholder support”. Representative Robson stated, “It’s obvious that there is a need for flexibility in the recruitment of Math, Science and Engineering teachers. This legislation will finally provide schools with the ability to do just that”.

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