The best part about the conference is always the lineup of panel sessions. For me, the highlight was the first panel: How to Support the Next Generation Science Standards. When I heard there was going to be a panel that included formal educators, informal educators, policymakers, and administrators, I was intrigued. Typically, these are not groups that mix well in the education world. The climate was, at times, tense. And for good reason. Basically, the Next Generation Science Standards are not being universally accepted by Arizona voters and have a bumpy road ahead toward implementation in Arizona schools. Sound familiar? That’s because Common Core Standards are just a few sad, small steps ahead on their so-far tumultuous path to adoption in our great state. If you want to get up-to-date on the current state of affairs with the Common Core, check out these links:
Common Core Name Changes, Standards Remain - AZStarnet.com
AZ Schools Teaching to New Standards - AZCentral.com
We are here in this echo chamber, figuratively speaking. Everyone in this community (educators, education proponents, administrators, community partners, etc.) are, relatively speaking, mostly on the same page. It’s the rest of Arizona voters that are not necessarily aware of these ideas. Many Arizona voters are not directly involved in schools. There are retirees who haven’t been in schools, themselves, for some time. There are also many couples who don’t have kids in the school system. These are the voters who are ultimately deciding whether or not and how Arizona adopts the Common Core and then the Next Generation Science Standards.
It might seem obvious to all of you, but I was momentarily in shock at this revelation. But, since I am not one to dwell (I’m more like an easily-distracted squirrel), I quickly moved on to a plan of action. So, how can we get the word out to these folks? We are the experts here. It’s only when we informal and formal educators, community partners, and policymakers work together that we can get the word out to voters about what Arizona’s education system needs. It’s a dizzying prospect, to say the least. But by strengthening partnerships between informal educators + classroom teachers and staying abreast of happenings in Arizona’s capitol buildings, we can work toward our common goals: getting Arizona students on the leading edge of academic achievement and keeping them there.