Are Our Schools Positioned To Succeed With Our Help?

One thing I always find odd is that when I tell people that one reason I choose to live in Arizona, beyond it’s sheer beauty and affordable cost of living is a fairly strong elementary school system (compared to the rest of the nation).  I often hear about how we are ranked last and I have trouble reconciling this.

I found  this report recently that doesn’t paint Arizona as being all that bad off (in comparison to others).  For example it is one of only three states that received an “A” in financing.  That means we actually seem to be doing better than most in funding education. We are one of only six states to receive and overall grade of “B” (no state received an “A”).

So maybe we aren’t all that bad off right?  Well, it’s not that easy.  The entire country is facing a MASSIVE education problem. This report on the “Staggering Crisis in US Education” does a good job of stating who needs to step up.  BUSINESSES. Yes that is right, the people that will be employing those currently in school have the most to lose by having ill prepared graduates.  It is the best return on investment any business can make.

What I take away from this report is that if we are willing to get creative and inject a little innovation into how we are educating kids and operating schools that Arizona stands a damn good chance as walking away a winner.  While all states are suffering, we currently look poised to be in an above average situation to turn the ship around if we so desire.

This is a nice segue into something that Dave Bjorn had asked me to do… Blog about the things I’m doing behind the scenes in trying to actively change the community I live in.  I am not entirely sure why he thinks this is a good idea, but hell I’ve done far stupider things.

Currently, I have met with several school district superintendents in the East Valley.  I have expressed my concern as a business owner and someone trying to change the twenty year economic outlook for the the area.  In these meetings, it has come out time and again that the districts want radical change, but find they are ill equipped to go it alone.

We have decided that a first huge step is identifying some of the problems and to start to work towards creative and innovative solutions as a community.  We have setup two days in early February to hold an Reformation in Education summit for East Valley schools.  We currently have most if not all of the targeted districts committed to attend.  Additionally, we have commitment from all of the targeted cities economic development departments to participate.  We want to keep things manageable but will also draw some key business leaders from the community in as well.

If it goes well, I hope that there will be continued dialog.  If you are interested in participating or know someone that should be attending this please let me know.


  1. Very exciting possibilities here; I’m very interested in participating.

    I worked in education for 5.5 years doing IT work in the East Valley and as the IT director for Globe schools.

    My wife has been in education for over 10 years. She may be interested as well.

    Good stuff, looking forward to finding out more.


  2. Great discussion to start, Derek.

    I have no real credentials in education except for being “a product” of public education. (Interesting term, that a person can be “a product” of something. As if I am a widget from a factory.) If my contribution would be valuable, I’m willing to be a part of this effort.

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