Expand Preschool and Full-Day Kindergarten Programs
Participation in preschool programs results in improved reading, writing, and math skills during elementary school. Expanded preschool and all-day kindergarten reduce the high-cost of child care for working parents, allowing them to save or spend that money on other necessities for their children. The educational and economic benefits of expanded preschool and all-day kindergarten have the greatest impact on parents and children with the most serious educational and financial need, but benefit all of Arizona’s parents and children. With the benefits as clear as they are, Arizona cannot afford to remain among the states with the lowest rates of preschool enrollment.
Improve Graduation Rates
Ensuring Arizona’s students have a bright future requires providing the skills they need to succeed in a modern economy.
Career & Technical Education Programs
Not all students have the same interests or learning styles. Students benefit from multiple pathways to graduation, including Career and Technical Education (CTE). Nationally, participants in CTE programs have a graduation rate of 93%, making these programs a demonstrated path to a good career. Graduates from these programs have access to high-paying jobs that are in demand in Arizona today, in fields that are the foundation of innovation and growth in a 21st-century economy.
English Language Learners
Bilingualism should be treated as a valued advantage for all of our students. My research at the University of Arizona and research nationwide demonstrates that bilingual students who are supported in their native language show higher proficiency in both languages. Bilingual education improves overall academic performance, graduation rates, and consequently, the ability of students participate fully in society.
Click here to read my op-ed on bilingual education issues.
Support Special Education
As a speech therapist in the public schools, I serve on a Special Education team that works to improve academic achievement and life skills of students with disabilities. I love spending every day helping students improve their communication and speech abilities. Our students with disabilities need a voice in government who understands our complicated Special Education system as well as the complex needs of individual students. While the process to receive services can be overwhelming, I am committed to programs that provide resources and training to families who need support.
Click here to read my op-ed on special education issues.
Paid Maternity and Paternity Leave
I have seen far too many of my colleagues burdened by unpaid maternity and paternity leave. For many teachers, the excitement of parenthood can be overshadowed by a huge economic burden. The education profession is centered around children and families and therefore, I strongly believe our schools should be offering all of their employees paid maternity and paternity leave. As State Superintendent, I also believe that a paid maternity and paternity leave program would be one solution to our statewide teacher shortage. This would attract new teachers to the profession and help keep our highly-trained, experienced teachers in the classroom.
To learn more, please read my op-ed in the Arizona Republic.
Inclusion of the LGBTQ Community
Inclusive school policies begin with recognizing that all students deserve to feel safe and welcome at school regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. I am advocating for clear policies, support groups, and activities for LGBTQ students and their families. Protecting the right of LGBTQ students to learn in an environment that rejects bullying and discrimination, welcomes family diversity, and promotes inclusivity must be a priority for our state. When I'm elected, I will implement inclusive policies and language for all schools.
As we have seen with the #RedForEd movement, it is no secret that Arizona's teachers are severely underpaid compared to the national average. This disparity has resulted in Arizona being ranked “the least attractive state for teachers” by the Learning Policy Institute. To end this crisis, our state must invest in our children's education and all public schools. As your State Superintendent, I will work with the legislature to produce innovative policies that will attract new teachers to the profession and encourage our highly-qualified teachers to stay in the field.
Education in Rural Communities
Teachers in rural schools have shared their concerns with me and I look forward to including their perspectives in policies at the Department of Education. One principal from Pinal County shared his success in using the "Cowboy Code of Conduct" to teach his students emotional regulation and motivate them to succeed academically. This included the participation of all teachers across the school to use both verbal positive reinforcements and the opportunity for students to earn a special cowboy belt buckle. Every school has unique needs and our schools in rural regions are no exception. By fully funding our rural schools and ensuring that they have adequate staffing, students will benefit from an individualized education no matter where they live.
Stop the Expansion of Empowerment School Account (ESA) Vouchers
Given our current school funding issues, I do not support the expansion of ESA vouchers and will be voting NO on Prop 305 come November. If passed, Prop 305 would further defund our public schools. This is terrifying. As my priorities include increasing teacher pay and student resources, our school districts cannot afford to have their budgets depleted by vouchers. I support families' freedom to choose the best school for their children. It is critical to have access to a high-quality public school for every child and in every neighborhood across the state. ESA vouchers simply do not support that vision of education.