We were all impacted and deeply moved by the events at Parkland High School in Florida a few months ago where a former student bust onto campus, and proceeding to kill and injure several students and teachers. What we do not hear enough about is the two other similar situations within a month after the Parkland incident that were planned, weapons were ready, but never happened. Why? What was different? How were they stopped? Well, someone heard something, someone felt comfortable approaching school administrators, and law enforcement, and these two other proposed school shootings were stopped before they happened. We need stronger relations with law enforcement, students, and administrators, and if they see something, they should be encouraged to report it to help keep our schools safe.
Many of our community has been impacted with teenage suicide. In our family, two of our daughters had friends commit suicide in the past few years. Last year alone, there were some 35 teenage suicides in the greater East Valley area. I have been working on this issue through the Mental Health and Wellness Committee of our District. From what I have learned, I believe we need to look at our resources and develop a workable matrix for delivery of counseling and emotional wellness. I would work with the community, administration and our staff to make sure resources are properly allocated, direct lines of responsibilities are set, and our counselors have the support they need.
Teachers are of critical important to the future of our community and the strength of the coming generation. They have a tremendous responsibility placed upon them to not only teach, but also help students through many challenges. Part of our job as parents and community members is to make sure teachers are paid fairly and recognized for their time and services. I strongly supported the new funding passed by the Arizona Legislature and I will fight to make sure those promises made are promises kept in the coming years.
I recently wrote an article on the importance of teachers in the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Here is a link to that article and I hope you will read it and appreciate my deep commitment to our teachers and the tremendous value that add to our community.
Taxpayers send tremendous financial resources to educate our students of this District. They deserve to know that those tax dollars are well spent to further high standards in education. We must have accountability and standards that are high, clear and achievable. Those standards must be based upon the best available information, but they must be locally decided and controlled. A top down approach from folks outside our state does not work for us here in Arizona and our District.
We must never forget that our schools are funded by us the taxpayers. Every taxpayer in our District is a stakeholder in the success of our schools. Those tax dollars must be accounted for, and those in governing positions have an important position of trust to make sure those tax dollars are spent to provide the best possible education for the coming generation.
Both are very important to the fabric of the educational experience for our youth. These programs and others like them provide an opportunity for our students to gather together, find their identity and excel in areas that help them become a better member of the coming generation.
Our schools serve our community and help build a future generation. They should reflect our values and principals. We must have a balanced approach that is respectful to the different interest in our greater community. We need to encourage taxpayers, who are stakeholders, to participate in balanced committees and seek input on the goals of our collective community. The efforts and recommendations of such boards and committees must be clear, transparent and remain focused on who they serve.
Not all high school graduates want to go on to university studies, and we must have the systems and tools available to help them find vocational expertise and training. We must encourage these students and provide the resources to help them be ready to be productive future members of our greater community and workforce.
We can and must do better in helping students at a younger age engage in discussions of future career options. One area of my focus is vocational education and delivery of those opportunities. All my adult children attended and have graduated from college. But, I also recognize that not all teenagers are college bound, and that there are many worthy careers that do not require a college degree. In this evolving and new economy, there are great jobs in many areas including computer coding, medical care, construction, robotics, cosmetology, firefighting and police. I believe we do not provide enough discussion and encouragement for such careers. I would work with the administration to come up with programs to discuss such vocational educational opportunities in the sophomore and junior years. Also, from my recent visit to the Site Council Meeting at McClintock High School, I learned that we are not doing enough in the sophomore year to help students to prepare for college, or consider vocational track programs. I believe we should be having discussions earlier with sophomore students on vocational based programs and also on careers with college requirements. Waiting until the senior year to have these discussions is not acceptable. We can do better there.