The Arizona State Board of Education is being given the opportunity by Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas to adopt the “gold standard” of educational standards. Douglas proposed for consideration the Hillsdale Barney Charter School Scope and Sequence draft standards.
In an interview on KFYI’s James T. Harris radio show, Douglas said, “I am going to recommend to the Board that they take a look at the standards from the Hillsdale College Barney Charter School and seriously consider bringing them to Arizona as our state standards.” She called possible adoption of the standards a “game changer.”
Douglas said there were a number of reasons why Hillsdale’s standards are desirable, including the fact that the College has a long history of inclusivity. “They’ve never taken federal funds so the standards were created with no political influence,” stated Douglas, a conservative.
“We’ve been making minimal gains but they not nearly adequate,” said Douglas referring to Arizona K-12 students’ academic performance on the AzMerit standardized test.
“We’ve forgotten that the intent of our public school system is to make great citizens, who can protect, defend, and perpetuate this Republic for future generations. We seem to think now it’s only about an industry pipeline of workers, and I personally find that very offensive. I want a system that protects America and keeps it great. Makes it great again and keeps it great.”
Last week, Douglas placed her proposal on the agenda for the September 24 State Board of Education (SBE) meeting. Douglas’ agenda item calls only for a discussion of her proposal:
Presentation of Hillsdale Barney Charter School Scope and Sequence for public consideration and input
Background and Discussion
Arizona Revised Statues (A.R.S.) §15-701 and §15-701.01 specifically authorize and mandate that the Arizona Board of Education adopt academic standards and minimum competency requirements for grades K-12.
On September 26, 2016, the K-12 Academic Standards Section provided notice to the State Board of Education of its intent to begin revision of the Arizona Science and Arizona History and Social Science Standards according to the ADE Standards Development Process. Over the past several months, ADE has convened educators, content experts, and other stakeholders from across Arizona to engage in the standards development process for the Science Standards and History and Social Science Standards. Throughout this process, there have been opportunities for broad engagement by these groups, in addition to opportunities to review public feedback.
Having considered all the public comment received and the draft standards produced through the standards development process, the Superintendent recommends the Hillsdale scope and sequence as an option that will better define what Arizona students need to know, understand, and do at each grade level or course from kindergarten through high school. These draft standards are focused in coherent progressions across grades K-12 in all subject areas, aligned with college and workforce expectations, inclusive of rigorous applications of knowledge, and are research- and evidence-based.
Recommendation to the Board
This is an information item, no Board action is required.
“Our intent is that we will take them to the Board one week from Monday, and while we won’t open them (the standards) up for comment the way we have with standards that have been written in-house or in-state, I certainly want people to read them. I want people to see how wonderful the standards are and what a great addition they would be to Arizona’s schools. So we’ll give them some time between now and October – to take a look at them. Let them read them – and then ultimately my plan is when we get to the October Board meeting, I’ll give the Board a choice. I will not recommend what I believe are lower standards for our kids. So the State Board – as far as I see it – can have a choice to either leave the current standards in place, they can adopt the draft standards that we have been working on, or they can take a look at a direction that I believe will make our kids readers again, will make them understand not only how to do basic arithmetic but then will lay the foundation for them to be able to do higher level math. Like I said, we’ve been making minimal gains, but not anywhere near adequate to give the students the opportunities and blessings this country has to offer in the future.”
Douglas told Harris, “We cannot continue to have over 50 percent of our children reading below grade level and think we’re going to move forward.”
Barbara Wyllie, Vice Chairman of the Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) Governing Board applauded Douglas. Wyllie, a public school advocate, and her fellow members of “Grassroots Grannies” have been actively educating community and school board members on the value of Hillsdale’s standards for a number of years.
Since the introduction of the controversial Common Core standards, the politicization of standards has increased. The tug-of-war between the pro-Common Core chambers of commerce, conservatives, progressives, and non-ideological educators has been rough. Douglas, a traditional public school advocate, who fought against Governor Doug Ducey and his cadre of Common Core supporters, was a casualty earlier this month when she lost the Republican Primary to Ducey’s pick, Frank Riggs.