OP-ED: Why is Arizona at War Against Students?

Editor October 19, 2013 1

By Michael Martinez

Photo by Frank Espich/AP

Photo by Frank Espich/AP

Arizona has been attempting to fully implement Common Core in our schools. These increased standards aim to ensure a higher number of Arizona students graduate from high school with skills that make them college and career ready. They push students to not only learn information, but also to develop the skill to actually use what they learn in real life.

That’s a good thing, right?

WRONG! At least according to the Tea Party it’s wrong.

Here in Arizona, in the 2013 legislative session, HB 2047 passed through the House. It would have ended AIMS testing, aligning testing with Common Core standards. The bill was dead on arrival in the Senate after the Tea Party threatened that Sen. Kimberly Yee (R-LD20) chair of the Senate Education Committee would face a primary if a vote was allowed.

The Tea Party has argued that Common Core being a “stealth jihad directed at America’s children;” and that these standards somehow give away our sovereignty to the United Nations.

Does Sen. Yee care more about retaining her seat in the legislature than fixing our declining school system? It seems Yee believed that far-fetched theories of non-existent threats carried more weight than the need to address the deficiencies of AIMS testing by adopting Common Core.

But there’s more.

The 2013 legislative session saw bills attacking students on many different levels. From the introduction of HB 2467, which would have required all high school students to take an oath to support and defend the Constitution — against both foreign and domestic enemies, in order to graduate; to HB 2169 (which was signed into law), defunding the Arizona Students Association, effectively silencing the voice of our college students. Our legislature has apparently been engaging in an all-out assault on our students.

Three Republican senators and 19 Republican representatives even voted against SB 1421, a bill providing funding for schools to buy epinephrine shots because it would cost the state $200 per school.

That’s what we face in Arizona; legislators believe $200 is too high of a price tag to save a student’s life. Is this the message we want to send?

No wonder why — nationwide — so many were willing to believe a false news report stating our schools were implementing a “Gay-to-Straight” program.

Why are so many people afraid to establish goals and curricula to ensure our children are college and career ready by the time they graduate from high school?

Should we not implement policies that promote students success in school — and beyond?

Should we not provide schools with resources they need to address the different ways students learn?

Should we not adequately fund schools, enabling them to pay teachers salaries that promote retention rather than burnout? How many more young would be teachers are choosing different career paths?

Is it not time that we take a stand against this war on Arizona students?

Education is the foundation of success both for individuals and Arizona’s economy.

Every year we fail to address our broken education system leads to our students falling further behind.

Enough is enough.

**Michael Martinez LD26 Precinct Committeeman is Executive Vice-Chair of the Young Democrats of America College Caucus and currently majors in political science at Arizona State University.