After Arizonans said education is the key driver of the state’s economy and described how to move the state forward on eight key issues in The Arizona We Want 2.0: The Case for Action, The Center for the Future of Arizona created a new institute led by Darcy Renfro to put the plan in motion.
Prior to becoming director of The Arizona We Want Institute, Renfro served as director of the Arizona STEM Network, Science Foundation Arizona where she launched a statewide effort to improve access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
At The Arizona We Want Institute, Renfro mobilizes foundations, organizations, businesses and citizens to achieve goals to move Arizona forward on education, job creation, environment & water management, infrastructure, healthcare, young talent, civic engagement and community involvement.
“There is nothing more important to Arizona’s strength than a healthy, productive and competitive citizenry,” Renfro said. “The Arizona We Want Institute is critical in providing leadership and voice to the issues most important to the people of our state.”
The Institute is focused on creating a world class education system, and says that to do so Arizona must move forward with fully implementing its college and career ready standards and funding assessments of those standards, increasing student achievement to state, higher education and national goals, creating an education funding investment model based on student, teacher and school performance and addressing school funding equity issues and establish a comprehensive data system.
The Arizona We Want has asked Expect More Arizona to be its lead education partner for Arizona Advocates, a statewide collaboration of individual citizens and nearly 100 organizations that place citizens and their goals at the center of achieving a plan for Arizona’s future, said Pearl Chang Esau, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona.
To implement the action plan, Arizona foundations and corporations raised $1.375 million, including a $225,000 gift from The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation. Other donors include Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Public Service, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, SCF Arizona, Wells Fargo, the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Flinn Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Pivotal Group, Hensley & Company, National Bank of Arizona, Salt River Project, Sundt Corporation and Valley of the Sun United Way.
Q: What education issues did Arizonans say they are most concerned about in The Arizona We Want 2.0 report?
A: Arizonans want to graduate our students from high school college- and career-ready and measure them by national/international standards.
Q: In the spring, leaders from all sectors met to develop goals and action plans for education and other areas identified in The Arizona We Want 2.0. Why are the education goals so important? Who is leading the effort?
A: A quality education for all students is the key to assuring quality jobs in a competitive economy and to fostering greater civic engagement and civic health throughout Arizona.
Expect More Arizona is our lead partner in establishing an action plan to address the education goals of The Arizona We Want 2.0 in response to the Gallup Arizona Poll. Expect More Arizona is leading a coalition of individuals, businesses, community organizations, schools and many other partners to advance a world-class education for all students in Arizona.
Q: What has been done so far in the education action plan? When is Arizona projected to achieve those education goals?
A: Arizona already has taken a significant step by adopting College and Career Ready Standards that are benchmarked internationally.
It now needs to adopt an appropriate assessment by which to assess student performance and to fund education adequately to fulfill the requirements of the new standards.
Q: How are Arizonans and organizations using those goals to determine whether candidates for public office will provide support, policies and funding for education?
A: The Arizona We Want Institute, in cooperation with a coalition of organizations led by Expect More Arizona, is asking every candidate for state level office to speak to the commitment they will make to accomplish these goals.
Q: What else would you like to mention or highlight?
A: On June 6, 2014, The Arizona We Want Institute in conjunction with The Arizona Republic, Channel 12 News and azcentral.com will host a Gubernatorial Candidate Forum to discuss our goals, including education. The event is open to the public and will be live-streamed through azcentral.com.
The participating candidates are Christine Jones, Doug Ducey, Scott Smith, Ken Bennett and Fred DuVal.
Anyone interested in attending can register at http://www.thearizonawewant.org/events/index.php.