Opinion

Carney: Survey says? Increased transparency needed in SUSD

Posted 10/12/22

Sadly, educators and students alike are counting down the days they have left in the classroom until retirement or graduation sets them free. Free to move on to the next — more enjoyable …

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Opinion

Carney: Survey says? Increased transparency needed in SUSD

Posted

Sadly, educators and students alike are counting down the days they have left in the classroom until retirement or graduation sets them free. Free to move on to the next — more enjoyable — chapter of their life.

According to a recent Hanover School Climate survey given to students, staff, and parents in Scottsdale Unified School District, only 33% of the 6-12th graders said they like school. Further, only 21% of the students surveyed say they enjoy learning.

We take this at face value, but has anyone ever asked why?

We must take seriously the declining morale and lack of motivation plaguing our education professionals and students that walk the halls of our schools nine months of the year. SUSD needs to find ways to strengthen our community’s resolve.

We mustn’t wonder why our academic scores have plummeted in recent years when the majority of the Scottsdale students surveyed say they aren’t enjoying learning or coming to school. We want all our students to feel welcome in the school they attend and be motivated to learn there. That’s why it’s up to our district leaders to look further into why our students feel negative about their current educational experience and help them improve their motivation to learn and engage in their studies.

After Hanover Research delivered an online presentation during the Aug. 16 SUSD board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel showed that his focus continues to be on the district’s reputation under his leadership over genuine concern for the students and parents in SUSD schools. His only comment was to reiterate that more parents supported the direction the district was heading than not. Unfortunately, Dr. Menzel failed to publicly acknowledge that two-thirds of the students surveyed aren’t motivated to learn or don’t enjoy their educational experience in our schools.

We must prioritize understanding why our students feel unmotivated to come to school and make necessary changes before we can expect higher academic achievement outcomes.

In addition to the students surveyed, the Hanover report also revealed that respondents expressed lower levels of agreement regarding leadership being in tune with their concerns, having a clear vision, and being transparent in decision-making. Based on the findings from this survey, the report recommended that the district explore perceptions of SUSD’s direction and engage the community in decision-making.

Hanover Research recommended that the district increase transparency and communication with the community by conducting further interviews and focus groups on understanding the perceptions of SUSD’s direction and leadership and how to best support its parents, students, and staff. SUSD would be wise to take that recommendation to heart.

As a mother of six students educated in the district, I’ve seen firsthand the negative impact of the COVID lockdown and mandates on our students. We must acknowledge not only the learning loss but also the loss of motivation and love for learning. I’m running for a seat on the school board because I want to be a part of improving our district’s morale, culture, and educational opportunity.