Be sure to read an article by the Ahwatukee Foothills about The Thunder Project!
The relationship between Fantine and Cosette from the recent film Les Miserables, effectively shows how parents always want the best for their children. Fantine, even though she loses everything, tries to provide all the necessities for her child, Cosette. She eventually sells her teeth, hair, and even her body; however, she overcomes everything constantly by keeping her child in mind. Before her death, she sings a little song showing her love toward Cosette, and telling Valjean, a kind and rich man, to take her child: “Take my child, I give her to you keeping…And tell Cosette I love her and I’ll see her when I wake” (MilknCookies414, 2013). For Fantine, it is probably the most difficult choice to beg a stranger to take her child; however, even right before her death, all she could think about is what or who will afford her daughter the best life. This love is not just made up for a heart-warming movie or novel scenes, but it definitely is the love and care of all ordinary parents toward their children. In the lives of children, there are numerous of choices children or their parents make for as they grow. When children grow old enough to go to school, education becomes the main concern of their parents because it could be one of their child’s life changing decisions. The education choices could be strictly narrowed down to public education verses private education. They both have different kinds of benefits, but most parents eventually choose for their children to attend public schools; a statistic by U.S. Department of Education shows that the percentage of enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, 90%, clearly beats the private schools, at 10%. (U.S. Department of Education, 2012) There are numerous triumphs of public education, and most notable of these successes comes from public education’s easy access and diversity.
The United States Education Department released a controversial report comparing public and private schools in terms of student achievement as measured on the federal math and reading tests known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. As a result, “The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, quickly asserted that the study showed public schools were “doing an outstanding job’’” (Public vs. Private Schools, 2006). With the same result, the researchers end the report saying “the country should stay focused on the overarching problem: on average, American schoolchildren are performing at mediocre levels in reading, math and science — wherever they attend school.” If the education system is almost the same, why is it necessary for parents to be so picky, and send their children to private schools, shelling out unnecessary money? Through public schools, students can be taught well. It is just a matter of how much students desire to learn and how much parents care to keep their children on the “right” track.
Furthermore, public school prepares students for the competitiveness of society. Even though it is still in small environment, the competition is fiercer than in those small private schools. Common public schools are usually bigger than the average private school. More people means more competition. Students will learn more through competitive environment and build up and learn how to survive. The SAT is one of the most significant tests during high school. Both private and public school students study for the same exact test and research shows that:
“It is no surprise that the average SAT score at Thomas Jefferson is 1470, with a 690 average in verbal and 760 in math. This average surpasses the national average by a couple of hundred points. The SAT scores alone prove that magnet schools have the potential for being just as good as the best private schools” (Walker, 1999).
The goals of high schools, both private and public, are to lead students one step closer to success in life, and prepare for college. Seeing that there is no big gap between private and public schools in national testing, what effect do both kinds of high school have? Regardless of how much parents support high school education, society sees college education more important. When children are thrown into adult society, and required to write a resume for a job, they will most likely not be asked to report about high school.
Public education may not be the best; however, it does have numerous strengths. It is free and available to everyone, and the competition rate is much higher than private schools. Public schools should not be generalized into ideas a lower rank than other educational systems just because of a few negative facts in isolated schools. There is a well-known quotation saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover” (Elliot, 1860). Public schools seem to have less of everything than private schools; however, they have enough to compete and prove that they are not far off from private schools.
Elliot, G. (1860). The Mill of the Floss. London, UK: William Blackwood and Sons
MilknCookies414. (2013, Feb). Come To Me (Fantine’s Death) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rT8zzvLgXuk
Public vs. Private Schools. (2006, July) The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www .nytimes.com/2006/07/19/opinion/19wed2.html?_r=4&
Walker, R. (1999). Public Education vs. Private Education. Ethics of Development in a Global Environment. Retrieved from http://www.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/school_child/public.htm
U.S. Department of Education. (2012). National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65
Intellectual, societal, and technological standards are progressively proliferating day by day. Our children are one step behind those of Japan, Denmark, China, and Czech Republic. (Bennett, 2006). It is only necessary that our generation meet the standards of the rest of the world. This is attainable only by the augmentation of time spent focusing on academics. Homework is a vital part of successfully achieving academic ascendancy. Public schools incorporate daily assignments to help students prioritize, manage time, become responsible, review the lesson learned, and comprehend the curriculum.
Like any issue, there are advocates and critics of this subject. Advocates against the implementation of homework argue that too much homework is excessive and demeaning to a student. “A recent Associated Press-America Online poll found that the average elementary school student does 78 minutes per night and middle schoolers 99 minutes, amounts far exceeding suggested guidelines of 10 minutes per grade per night.” (Bennett, 2006). There is little correlation between assignments and achievement in elementary and middle school. In high school, excessive amounts of homework are considered to be “counterproductive” to students. The time spent on homework since 1981 has increased 51%, according to a study of 2,900 students in 2004. (Wallis, 2006). Harris Cooper, a homework critic, confirmed through studies, that homework does not account for achievement in elementary school. Cooper also concluded from his research that students who are: “doing more than 60 to 90 min. a night in middle school and more than 2 hr. in high school is associated with, gulp, lower scores.” (Wallis, 2006). Teachers in low test scoring countries like Greece, Thailand, and Iran assign copious homework than American teachers do. The author further stated that: ‘“…homework is damaging our kids’ interest in learning, undermining their curiosity.”’ (Wallis,2006). To summarize this critic’s argument, she is simply stating that homework itself is not causing the harm, rather it is the plethora. Adjusting the amount of assignments assigned is a simple refute to the critics’ advocacy against homework in general. This problem of academic decline, in comparison to other countries, is proportional to profligate homework assigned. It is easily solved with an abatement of the current amount given out.
According to recent statistics, Chinese students are surpassing the US academically through its graduation requirements. Their curriculum is advanced due to its forced implementation of more difficult courses. “…(to graduate from high school, students must complete biology, chemistry, physics, algebra and geometry), but the Chinese school year is a month longer. When regular school time is combined with homework, Chinese students spend twice as much time on academics.” ( Less Homework, More Trouble, 2006). Adding even one more month to the public school year can make a drastic difference. More time spent on challenging students with homework will only result in an increased ability to prioritize the important parts of their lives. With homework assigned, it helps for the younger generation to schedule school activities before recreational activities. (Benefits of Homework). Arranging everyday activities in order of vitality is imperative for future success. Eminence in a child’s future career is directly proportional to the ability to prioritize important events and tasks.
Managing time is one of the many characteristics that make up a productive member of society. “Once they start studying their lessons in the allotted time, they start learning the art of prioritization and also learn how to complete their tasks in a scheduled time. This helps them in managing their time and studies independently which instills self-discipline in students.” (Benefits of Homework). Homework is a daily routine that instills a professional sense of time management. Throughout the twelve years in a public school system, managing time is exercised daily through assigned homework.
Success is more attainable academically; if the material taught every day is reviewed. Homework is an essential tool in review. By utilizing assignments, instructors are able to determine whether or not the curriculum is being comprehended by specific students. Any pupils who need extra assistance with a concept can be easily identified through the completion and accuracy of their homework. It also acts as a bridge between home and school. This bridge connects parents with the ongoing activities, projects, and events. Homework“ …also helps them recollect and convey information and implement the information whenever need arises. Students are taught to focus and work on their own which gradually develops their interest in new subjects.” (Benefits of Homework). Thus, homework incites students to have an inquisitive attitude towards the curriculum.
Critics for the complete removal of work assigned to be done at home, can only attribute that it is the plethoric amount assigned, rather than homework itself. Public school’s utilization of homework only accounts for a student’s ability to prioritize paramount tasks, manage time, be incumbent, review the concept taught, and fully understand the curriculum. With the world’s academic standards expanding beyond the horizon, our arms must be invariably reaching to grasp this stretch of knowledge.
Bennett, S. (2006, July 2). Homework does not=A’s. USA Today. Retrieved from
Wallis, C. (2006, August 29). The Myth About Homework. Time. Retrieved from
Benefits of Homework. Retrieved from
(2006, July 2). Less Homework, More Trouble. USA Today. Retrieved from
Governor Jan Brewer is in talks with the GOP-led legislature to determine funding for Arizona schools. School superintendents across Arizona are not sure how much money they will have to employ teachers. They are also awaiting lawmaker’s decisions on performance funding, school standards and other policy changes that could impact school funding. The funding could further impact the rest of the decisions that are about to take place with the new legislature that has passed.
Silva, C. (2013, May 13). Arizona public schools wait for budget answers. Retrieved from http://www.azfamily.com/home/Arizona-public-schools-wait-for-budget-answers-207264471.html
Sandy Lowe is currently serving as board member at the district. She has two sons that graduated from Corona del Sol. Mrs. Lowe continues to be active in the public school system. She has B.S. in Social Work and an M.B.A.
Why I’m Optimistic about Education Today
May 10, 2013
All one has to do to negate just one article about what is bad in education is to look at our students today, especially in TempeUnionHighSchool District. What they will find are:
Students that are excelling beyond anyone’s expectations in all fields whether it be Math, Bio-Med, Science, Art, Music, or Culinary (just to mention a few). They are passionate about learning and have the support to succeed.
Students that overcome serious obstacles in their young lives, and still manage to not only graduate, but earn scholarships and awards for their courage, effort and success. These are the kids that face personal addictions, violence, homelessness, bullying and abuse, but manage to stay focused on learning because they understand the significant impact education has on one’s life.
Students that overcome physical, emotional and learning challenges in our classrooms. It may take them longer to pass a test, a class or even to graduate, but they do despite sometimes an uphill battle.
Students that are selfless in giving their time to help others. They give up free time and their talents to help others in their community that is less fortunate then they are.
And standing close behind all of these achievements are families, teachers, principals and community volunteers that lend moral and/or financial support, a helping hand in passing a tough class, or perhaps just a word of kindness on a day that isn’t going so well. It’s that special teacher that buys clothing for a needy student or stays late every day to tutor a failing student (without anyone knowing) or that principal that finds a way to help a family struggling with a tragedy that truly makes a difference and gives us reasons to celebrate. There will always be challenges in our lives, but the good news is we continue to move forward with optimism about the future because of our outstanding students!
Education throughout the history of mankind has done wonders. Without education paving the way for new advances in medicine, technology, and philosophy, human culture would be a fragment of what it is today. However, these progressions often overshadow another benefit to education such as money. Public education rids people of many unwanted crimes while saving the government and tax payers countless amounts of money.
Those who receive a high school diploma have access to a myriad of benefits. One of these benefits is the ability to find work more regulatory than those without a degree. Thus, without a degree it is easier to slip into poverty: “Social scientists generally agree that unemployment, especially persistent unemployment, leads to individual poverty and that residential concentrations of poverty lead to higher crime” (Labor Markets, Employment and Crime, 1997). According to the Office of Justice Programs, unemployment can lead to poverty. Unfortunately, poverty can lead to crime which in turn costs the government money. Without providing a basic high school education to young citizens, the community is sentencing many of them to a life of crime. Therefore, the importance of public high schools is greater than ever. With more students getting a valuable education, the schooling will provide our community with less crime and more law abiding citizens. This also reveals another benefit that can actually help the economy.
Today in America, millions of people are in our prison systems for various crimes. Some for petty theft, and some more serious crimes, like murder. It costs a huge amount of money, resources, and man power to run these prisons.
Table 1. Percent of Criminals
Note 1. Statistics on inmates convicted and unconvicted. Based on percentages. 1,822,555 inmates were surveyed for this information.
This is why public education is so important to the community and even the economy. This demonstrates this correlation between education and those who are sentenced to prison. On average around forty percent of these inmates do not have a high school diploma; likewise ,around ninety percent do not have a college degree. These huge percentages of uneducated individuals make up the majority of the prison system. By putting more focus on public education, a profound difference can be made in the lives of these children.
Educating the masses can provide the country with much needed benefits. With less people committing crimes and providing their efforts toward useful jobs, it will increase the economy while keeping the community safe. Providing a basic education to our citizens is a win-win situation.
Characteristics of inmates: Education of prison and jail inmates. (2005). Retrieved from
National Institute of Justice . (2007). Labor markets, employment, and crime. Retrieved from
The Modern Titanic
Imagine you are on a ship, the ship of society. Government is on one deck, recreation on another, and education on yet another. When everything is fine, society keeps functioning and the ship remains afloat, as it is supposed to. The problem arises when the ship begins to leak. Perhaps it hits an iceberg, or an engine breaks down. Then, slowly but surely, the entire ship goes down. In such a situation duct tape will not solve the problem. There would need to be an increase in investment to patch up the hole permanently or replace the engine. As of now, one of the weakest parts of the ship is the education deck. It is creaking and groaning, yet it continues to hold up. If the future were certain, it would be easier to ignore the weaknesses and maintain faith in society. But it is not. Why? The future is not in the hands of us, the students; it is in yours. You have the power to provide the fuel for our education and our future. We depend on voters.
In the November 2012 election, voters rejected the proposed budget override for the Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) by only 51.7% (Martinez, 2012). Therefore, the TUHSD governing board has decided to present the issue again in November of 2013 and ask the voters to rethink their decisions. The best way to do so is to understand exactly what the override is, and what the money coming from it will be used for. In 2008, voters passed a 10% override, allowing the district to spend their tax money on a very specific list of expenses. This override has been in place since then, and the money, as per the district office, has been used to fund basic instructional programs, athletics and extra-curriculars, gifted and English language learner programs, staffing for smaller class sizes, fine arts and career technical education programs, facilities maintenance programs, and staff development (Baca 2012). Your tax funds have helped enrich our schools and our community. Recently, regulations regarding district funding have changed, allowing for a maximum of a 15% override, not just 10%. Thus, when the district had to resubmit the override at the 2012 election, the board decided to increase it to 15%. TUHSD estimates that this would generate an additional $3.3 million to be used for additional reduction in class size, reduction in student to counselor ratio, reduction and elimination of course and activity fees, expansion of non-traditional learning programs, tutoring and intervention, and transportation for such tutoring and intervention (Baca 2012). Voters rejected the 15% override. As for the 10% override in place since 2008, it is now in the final year before it must be re-approved by voters. If this does not happen, it expires and a three-year “phase down” begins. Now we have come to the real issue. Whether the district chooses to put a 10% or 15% override on the ballot in 2013 is yet to be decided, but regardless of which is chosen, it is imperative that voters pass this measure to ensure the continued success of our schools and to prevent our schools from spiraling into unsatisfactory education.
The override’s impact on specific schools will become painfully obvious if the program is abandoned. Although this is not the only far-reaching effect, it will be the first domino in a series of unprecedented impacts. Mr. Richard Foreman, a former Tempe Union governing board member, is still highly involved in Tempe’s education. He was able to outline what would happen were the override to fail once again: The override is set to be phased down over three years. This means that override funds will dwindle by 33% per year for three years until it is completely eliminated. Unfortunately, the effects would grow with the decline in resources. In the first year alone, the district would lose programs and faculty. Difficult decisions would have to be made regarding which programs should be cut. We would have to face questions such as: Should we fund P.E. or art? Which teachers can we keep, and which do we have to lay off? Which sports can we no longer fund? In the second year, schools will lose entire programs. Class sizes will increase, and the decline in money flow will lead to systematic layoffs and vacancies that cannot be filled. Many wonderful teachers will be encouraged to retire. The third year will illustrate the true proportions of such a disaster. Elective programs may completely disappear. With no more chances for extra pay, teachers will leave for wealthier opportunities. Entire buildings may be shut down to avoid the cost of air conditioning in the Arizona heat. Eventually, schools will end up laying off teachers and anyone above average will leave for better pay. Tempe Union will lose its competitive edge. And the worst part? This is not an exaggeration (Foreman). Now you’re thinking: ‘Well, maybe there are other ways to get funding’. Sadly, in light of the recession, the sequester, and the already relatively low levels of funding afforded to TUHSD, any additional cuts would be devastating and leave a long lasting impact. Foreman continues: “The impact would be generational…it takes a long time…to recover” (R. Foreman, personal communication, March 25, 2013). Reviving programs, hiring additional teachers, and fixing facilities takes time and money. Dr. Kenneth Baca, superintendent of Tempe Union High School District, explains how cuts will not end there. As all of the above impacts set in, the quality of education in various schools will begin declining. This will cause students to leave the district, looking for better schools. The problem is that the district gets funds from the state based on student enrollment. As enrollment declines, so will funding, which will lead to even less quality schools, which will in turn lead to even less enrollment and thus less funding. This creates a continuous cycle. (K. Baca, personal communication, April 2, 2013). By the time funding becomes available, the impacts will already have set in. Students will have already graduated and, voters, whether they have schoolchildren or not, will begin to feel the hit: “What we found was that properties near schools with a rating of 4 or 5 stars were almost completely insulated from declining values while those near schools with 1-3 stars experienced massive losses in value over that 3 year period” (Corsini, 2011). Various studies have proven that there is a direct correlation between successful schools and property values. It is proven that there is “a fundamental tie between healthy schools and good neighborhoods irrespective of the number of kids” (R. Foreman, personal communication, March 25, 2013). People are more willing to pay for houses in stable neighborhoods, near successful schools. It is empirically proven that homes near failing schools are not as valuable. If the override does not pass, home values will fall in the Tempe area, and it will take years for realtors and homeowners to recover. Such effects have already taken place in areas like Levine and near the Phoenix Union District. We cannot allow this happen in Tempe, as it will impact each and every homeowner in a nearly irrevocable manner. The common voter is also affected by our schools’ success in terms of pride. Mr. Foreman notes that our excelling district has a national reputation, with schools coming from across the U.S. to offer scholarship money and to recruit students (R. Foreman, personal communication, March 25, 2013). In such a way, we develop a sense of community pride that allows us to be proud of who we are, where we live, and how we educate our kids.
Despite all of the above benefits and implications of the override, it still failed to pass in the November election. The number one reason for this: taxes. Ironically, if the 10% override were to pass, there would be absolutely no increase in taxes, and, the district estimates suggest that if the 15% override were to pass, the increase in taxes would amount to only $17 annually, only $1.50 a month!
Note. Tax implications of proposed 2013 override. Adapted from “Fact Sheet,” by K. Baca and G. Wyman, 2013, 2012 by TUHSD. Adapted with permission.
Just think about the figures for a couple seconds. For about $1.50 a month, you can help our schools excel and you can boost your property value! That definitely seems like a worthwhile tradeoff. In addition, you are helping to educate the future workers of Tempe. Think about it this way when prioritizing education in the budget: without successful schools and a great education, there is “no pharmacist to write the prescription for you and no doctor for your operation (R. Foreman, personal communication, March 25, 2013). Less education will actually lower your standard of living, regardless of the number of school age children in your area. Finally, higher taxes actually lead to lower ones in the long run: “The most common reason for voting against the override is higher taxes. It is also a reason to vote for it. Not because any of us want to pay more taxes, but because the investment will improve our schools, which will make [Tempe] much more attractive to businesses, which will yield economic development, which will add significantly to the taxpayer base. Sharing the community’s tax burden among more than just homeowners will lower our taxes” (Bartle, 2012). It is astonishing to think of the far-reaching impacts of the override. An increase in businesses and the resulting economic upswing will benefit everyone, again, regardless of the number of school age children in the community.
With this in mind, it becomes virtually impossible to think of an argument against the override that outweighs what has been set forth by proponents. The override must pass to improve schools, help teachers, maintain the district’s reputation, increase property values, and lower taxes. If this Titanic were to sink, more than just a few lives would be lost; the future of our district will be in peril. TUHSD is an important link in Arizona education and can provide a strong precedent for the future of school funding throughout the state, and across the country. Do not just grab a lifeboat and expect to escape the vortex to the bottom of the ocean, because that vortex is strong and will pull you down along with the rest of the ship. Instead, grab a ballot this coming November, and check yes. As Dr. Baca has explained: “When you’re paralyzed into inaction, people suffer…we need to exchange the fear for hope…we’re going to be able to pass that override” (K. Baca, personal communication, April 2, 2013).
Baca, K. (2012). “Fact Sheet”, Tempe Union High School District Information
Bartle, S. (4th October 2012). Bartle: Vote ‘yes’ for lower taxes, higher property values. Retrieved from http://www.inmaricopa.com/article/2012/10/04/scott-bartle-musd-budget-override
Corsini, K. (6th April 2011). Do Schools Really Affect Property Values?. Retrieved from http://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2011/04/06/school-districts-real-estate-prices/
Martinez, D. (9th November 2012). Local school governing boards gain Ahwatukee representation: Bond approved for TUHSD while override fails. Retrieved from http://www.ahwatukee.com/news/article_36fdf81a-2a9b-11e2-9fd2-0019bb2963f4.html
 The original article was talking about Maricopa, not Tempe, but it was in regards to an extremely similar situation, making it applicable to Tempe.