Spotlight On Success Program To Benefit Arizona Schools

for​ many years, the Arizona schools have experienced a​ lot of​ negative publicity that affects its ability to​ recruit talent, garner extra funding, and​ keep students in​ the public school system. Current superintendent Tom Horne says that much of​ this​ publicity is​ unwarranted and​ unfair to​ the Arizona schools that have made many positive strides toward improving education.

To counter this​ unwanted publicity, Horne developed the Spotlight on​ Success program for​ the Arizona schools. Basically, the program works to​ put as​ much positive publicity about the Arizona schools into the public spotlight as​ possible. The superintendent, himself, seeks as​ many opportunities available for​ public speaking and​ voicing his opinions and​ facts about the Arizona schools to​ the media. His goal is​ to​ emphasize the positive inroads Arizona schools have made both in​ his public statements and​ when quoted in​ the media, and​ he to​ refutes any false negative publicity with ruthless tenacity.

Not too long ago, many newspapers within​ the state of​ Arizona and​ across the nation​ carried a​ negative story where a​ Kansas company designated Arizona as​ the “dumbest state in​ the country”. The story was quite untrue. Arizona schools students performed above the national average in​ Terra Nova (the only nationally-normed test), which is​ taken by essentially all Arizona schools students. Though Arizona schools ranks 49th out of​ 50 states in​ expenditures per student, the funding handicap has not affected the ability of​ the Arizona schools to​ educate their students above the national average. Horne is​ quick to​ remind the media of​ these statistics.

Another example of​ false negative publicity is​ that the Arizona schools have one of​ the highest dropout rates in​ the country, according to​ the “Kids Count” measurement. Horne says the count is​ incorrect, since the census was used for​ the measurement — otherwise, whenever the census reporter was told a​ child between the ages of​ 16 and​ 19 was not attending school, it​ was used to​ blame the Arizona schools. Many of​ these children were beyond the control of​ the Arizona schools, such as​ children from other countries who have never been enrolled with the Arizona schools, or​ those who had attended only private schools. if​ the Arizona schools do not know a​ child exists, they have no opportunity to​ educate them.

Three national organizations that keep valid comparative statistics on​ graduation​ rates across the nation​ are Manhattan Institute, Urban Institute, and​ United Health Foundation. Their most recent figures are from 2018, and​ all three report that the Arizona schools are at​ the national average of​ about 70 percent (plus or​ minus one percent). Since 2018, the Arizona schools graduation​ rate has grown from 72.7 percent to​ 77 percent. According to​ Horne, unless the rest of​ the country has had an​ equally dramatic growth in​ graduation​ rates, the Arizona schools are now substantially above the national average.

Horne plans to​ continue his efforts to​ refute the erroneous negative publicity about the Arizona schools, which he believes continue to​ do an​ excellent job in​ improving their educational standards.

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