Governor Ducey’s Classrooms First Initiative Council met for the first time on Friday. It was worth the wait. Personal highlight for me? The Governor asked his Council members to answer the question of what is needed on behalf of students and encouraged disregarding the impact on adults while we brainstorm. He seeks a model that supports excellence for all students in allArizona public schools.

This is great stuff.

Governor Ducey gave the Council his 6 priorities:

  1. Do what is best for kids. Set adult concerns aside, as old processes are not working.
  2. Only funding ‘seat time’ is an old model. Let’s move past it.
  3. Reduce regulation and administration; move dollars to teaching salary.
  4. Money should follow students all the way into individual schools. Think backpack.
  5. Principals must get into the budget business. Great schools do not exist without great school leaders in charge of their resources.
  6. The funding formula must be one we can all understand. And one that can work for all students in all public schools – district, charter, JTEDs, online.

It was difficult to suppress a personal Hallelujah Happy Dance from the peanut gallery where I was sitting. These are simple, powerful ideas that can lead to more money for high-quality teachers, more control over budgets for principals, faster growth of our best school models, and much greater access to excellent public schools for all students in Arizona.

The Council’s first report on recommendations is due in September, which may seem quick. But for lots of us, the Council is actually 25 years in the making. We’ve had some time to get ready.

We are grateful to Governor Ducey, his Co-Chair Jim Swanson, and the Council members. This is a fantastic start and we are inspired about Arizona’s future.