Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards help ensure all students are prepared for a successful future beyond graduation. These stronger standards will help Arizona build a more qualified workforce and will lead to a more prosperous future for Arizona’s businesses and economy. I’d like to offer yet another reason though for Arizona needs College and Career Ready Standards: children in military families will benefit vastly from these standards.
Arizona is home to seven military bases, and each one has approximately five to six thousand military personnel. These troops and their families are a large part of our state’s fabric, and have been for generations. For families that relocate to a new base, which military families do as often as every two to three years, children are expected to make new friends, navigate new neighborhoods, develop new daily routines and adapt to new environments. As an “Army brat” this was very much my story. As an example, in the 6th grade, I attended school in Massachusetts, Texas and Panama. Mission requirements, however, should not require children of military members to experience gaps in their education.
Strengthening Arizona’s academic standards is far from an issue that only impacts military families, or even the millions of other Americans who move from one state or school district to another every year. For too many years, Arizona has not provided the quality education needed to help prepare students to thrive in today’s economy. Twenty-three percent of Arizona students do not graduate from high school on time, and of those who do, many are not ready to enter college or the workplace—or to qualify for the privilege to serve in our Armed Services.
As a 22-year veteran of the US Air Force and now as the President of the Oracle Elementary School District Governing Board, I can personally attest to the critical importance of the standards. I’ve witnessed firsthand the worthwhile investment in time and resources our administrators and teachers are making into aligning curriculum, selecting textbooks and classroom materials. Thanks to the efforts of our amazing educators, we are now beginning to see the difference that the new standards are making in improving student learning.
Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards are ensuring that our children in military families and beyond are receiving a high quality education. They are better preparing our students for college, career and life by helping them develop critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills. They also allow parents, students and teachers to be on the same page and set high expectations for student learning. As a leader in the Air Force, it was often my experience that high expectations produced better results. I suspect our children will rise to the occasion as well, and all of us will be the better for it.
For more information about Arizona’s College & Career Ready Standards, visit ArizonaAimsHigher.org.
Linda Thomas is currently serving as a member of the Oracle Elementary School District Governing Board and was named the 2013 Advocate of the Year by the Arizona School Boards Association. She is a retired United States Air Force Colonel and spent nearly her entire life around the military.
/s/ Linda Thomas
Oracle School Board President