Early Arizona Education Bills Call For Mandatory Recess, Board Of Education Shakeup

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 - 2:09pm

Gov. Doug Ducey promised to make education a top priority in his third State of the State address. He asked Arizona legislators to work together to expand all-day kindergarten, pay teachers more and streamline teacher certification.

Here are five interesting proposals from legislators so far. Expect more as both the House and Senate Education Committees convene Jan. 12.

State Board Of Education Shakeup

Concurrent House and Senate Resolutions 2001 and 1001 would give voters the choice to shuffle the State Board of Education in the next general election. The legislation proposes the board be made up of county superintendents and superintendent of public instruction. The board is currently appointed by the governor, except the superintendent of public instruction and includes: a teacher,  the president of a state university, four lay members, the chancellor of a community college district, a charter school owner or administrator, a county superintendent and a high school superintendent.

Alternative Teacher Certification

If signed into law, SB 1039 would allow high performing school districts and charter schools to set up alternative teacher certification programs outside the state’s requirements. Eligible teachers would have to teach in the classroom for one year and show 80 percent of students perform at grade level or show academic growth.

State Money For Professional Development

Senate Bill 1038 calls for $500,000 to fund professional development programs for public school teachers to get additional certifications in high need areas such as career and technical education. Teachers could get up to $2,000 for training at an accredited post secondary institution. The money does come with strings attached: teachers who receive a scholarship or grant from the state are required to teach in an Arizona public school for three years after completing the program or else have to pay back the money.

Mandatory Recess

School playgrounds could get more love if House Bill 2082 becomes law. It requires school districts and charters to set aside 50 minutes  of “unstructured recess” each day for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Special education study

Senate Bill 1037 tasks the auditor general and the state department of education with studying Arizona’s special education program. Program costs, per-pupil funding, the appropriateness and effectiveness of special education would be required areas of investigation. The audit is due on or before Dec. 15, 2017.

A group organized by Gov. Doug Ducey’s to overhaul school funding recommended this audit in their final report released in December. 

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