/ Modified jan 22, 2015 10:35 a.m.

Schools Superintendent: State of Education in Arizona is 'Poor'

Diane Douglas, in office two weeks, assesses state's status, says children not being served adequately.

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Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas told state lawmakers Wednesday that "too many Arizona children are not receiving the education they deserve."

In her State of Education Address, Douglas listed what she called some of the challenges in the state's K-12 public schools, including the "unproven Common Core Standards" and a new "unproven, inaptly named AzMERIT test," which will replace the previous standardize test known as AIMS.

Diane M Douglas 2014 Diane Douglas
"I call on this Legislature and the governor to stop the madness and put our children first," she said.

During her first speech to the lawmakers who will decide the budget for the Arizona Department of Education, Douglas underlined the importance of graduation rates, and teacher recruitment and retention.

"Without experienced, highly effective teachers in every Arizona classroom, our students will struggle to succeed," she said.

Unlike the state's last two superintendents of public instruction who went after Tucson Unified School District's Mexican American studies, Douglas emphasized the importance of ethnic studies.

"All children should be taught accurate history, which requires the inclusion of the rich cultural heritage of Latino Americans, African Americans, Native Americans and every other group of immigrants who has come to Arizona and suffered through challenges and tribulations to make our state great," Douglas said.

The Arizona Department of Education will have all ethnicities properly represented in history, language arts, music, civics and other areas of study, Douglas said.

"Teaching children by ethnicity is academic segregation, reinforcing in young minds that somehow we are different and separate from each other," she said. "These standards changes will allow children statewide to look at each other not by color or ethnicity, but as fellow Arizonans, respected for their own unique history and culture which has contributed to the state."

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