As Education Committee Chair, State Senator Sylvia Allen (LD-6), is focusing on the needs of Arizona students when proposing legislation.
“Overall, I’m very optimistic about education in Arizona, I have to say that. I think we have wonderful universities, (we’re) very supportive of our community colleges,” Sen. Allen said. “We have online schools, we have choice in Arizona. We have charter schools, district schools, private schools. I mean Arizona is doing very well, but there’s always room for improvement.”
Sen. Allen plans to address a variety of issues as Chair of the Senate Education Committee, but her top three priorities are passing legislation that will help children, encourage parent engagement and support teachers.
“My top priority I feel like is to be sure that we can pass the best legislation possible that will help first, our children,” Sen. Allen said. “I feel like we always should? be focused on what our children need individually to get a very good education.”
Sen. Allen explained she is proposing to put Proposition 301 on the ballot in 2020 to “ask the voters if they’d be willing to raise that [sales tax] another fourth, to a full cent, which then would totally be put into education.”
The money from the increase in the sales tax would benefit K-12, community colleges and universities.
“Parents are concerned about the content and also about the quality of education that the children are receiving, and I think that is something that is worthy of discussion,” Sen. Allen said.
She explained that when an issue arises with a student, parents should be notified immediately and be provided with information on other resources that can help the student if the issue cannot be resolved at the school.
“And we need to stop and remember that these children belong to parents and that we have to always be sure with whatever situation that we’re dealing with in the schools, parents are called immediately,” Sen. Allen said.
Sen. Allen explained improvements in the economy allowed for teachers raises that were desperately needed.
“With the Prop 301 that I’m proposing, there will be more opportunities with that to stabilize those salaries through the years” Sen. Allen said.
In an effort to support teachers, Sen. Allen will focus on alleviating the stress many Arizona teachers face on a daily basis.
“Yes, they need to be accountable. We all need to be accountable,” Sen Allen said. “But on the [other] hand, we need to also take stress off so teachers can enjoy being teachers.”
The teacher shortage is an issue nationwide, and Arizona is not immune. Increasing teacher pay and alleviating the stress teachers face can help combat the issues of attracting and retaining teachers.