The Glendale Star
By DARRELL JACKSON,
Councilmembers could not reach a consensus during the Sept. 5 workshop to approve a resolution that would have the city’s possible support for Expect More Arizona’s statewide education efforts, including support for Gov. Doug Ducey’s Achieve60AZ initiative.
The initiative sets a goal of getting 60 percent of adults, ages 25 to 64, to obtain a professional certificate or college degree by 2030.
“Expect more Arizona approached Glendale staff to inquire about our possible support for their program,” said Jenna Goad, intergovernmental and council services manager, public affairs. “This is a request for council to discuss possible support for their efforts by registering as a partner city.”
Expect More Arizona is a statewide nonprofit education advocacy organization, and the Center for the Future of Arizona, announced new long-term education goals for Arizona.
Their goals for education were released earlier this year as part of the Arizona Education Progress Meter, a source for individuals to learn about how Arizona’s education systems can be improved upon, was first launched in 2016.
“Numerous cities have signed on as partners, including Camp Verde, Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Tempe and Superior, among others, including registering numerous education groups, including Glendale Union High School District and the Glendale Chamber of Commerce,” said Donna Davis, Expect More Arizona Community Engagement manager. “There is no cost to participate and becoming a partner gives the city acknowledgement on the Expect More Arizona website and also a first-class education logo for the city.”
Expect More Arizona is a statewide, non-profit organization that includes officials from Maricopa Community College District, APS, Wells Fargo, Ernest and Young, and University of Phoenix on their board.
“They work with communities across the state and are looking for diverse partnerships, because they believe education takes a diverse coalition to make meaningful progress and they take a broader community around our school to get to those goals,” Goad said.
City staff was recommending a resolution - that was not specific - stating that the city “understands that our future economy and workforce demands will require more than a high school diploma and only 42 percent of Arizona adults currently possess a degree, certificate or industry credential.”
Expect More Arizona has issued an eight-point meter that measures the progress that includes post-secondary attainment, post-high school enrollment, opportunity youth, high school graduation, eighth grade math, third grade reading, preschool enrollment and teacher pay.
While councilmembers pointed to supporting education, they all had issues with the general proclamation that staff was requesting the city adopt, especially since it did not account as to how things would be funded.
“Reading the resolution, basically, it is asking to increase funding to districts, but I don’t see who is placing accountability for that,” Sahuaro Councilmember Ray Malnar said. “We are lacking on the accountability in our education system and getting on board something that does not address accountability is tough for me to agree to.”
Expect More Arizona is pressing for increased funding and better teacher pay, but does not say how to fund those requests. Councilmembers were afraid of retribution from the Legislature if they approved the general resolution.
“Even though you are not asking for funding and this would not cost the city anything, I believe this resolution may be taken to Legislature saying, ‘Look at all these who have signed on.’ and you may ask for more money,” said Yucca District Councilmember Joyce Clark.
Mayor Jerry Weiers also feared possible retribution against the city should they sign on and could not support the resolution, but would consider a mayoral proclamation.
“Without real details on this, and it is so vague that it wouldn’t have bite, we all support education up here and until we have something more finite, I can’t support this at this point,” Weiers said. “I might be able to bring back a proclamation that isn’t damaging to this council in the future.”
Councilmembers Bart Turner (Barrel District) and Jamie Aldama (Ocotillo) were the lone councilmembers in favor of the resolution, but were outnumbered, and staff was not given consensus to continue the possible resolution.