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Moran: Public schools play vital role in Arizonans' lives


Did you attend public school? Is your life better because of public education? Recently I’ve heard local and national politicians say that our public school system is “broken” or “beyond repair." Some even say the entire system should be thrown out. These statements are misguided and misinformed. Imagine your life without public education. How would your story change?

I currently serve on my local school board, Litchfield Elementary School District (LESD79), and have since 2018. One or more of my children have been enrolled in LESD79 for the past 17 years.  Two of my children graduated from the Agua Fria Union High School District and currently attend Arizona State University. I’m proud that my children have been exclusively educated by public schools and am happy to report they were taught the skills necessary to be productive, successful citizens. Public education success stories are alive and well in our community. I encourage you to examine the positive impacts of public schools and take action to support, not undermine, them.

Critics who say public schools are failing like to point to lower test scores. It is true that test scores decreased during and after the pandemic; however, LESD79 has worked to identify gaps and implement specific, intentional programs for students to expedite academic growth. Every dollar of pandemic funding has been put toward learning recovery which has resulted in steady improvement in academic achievement.

Skeptics who say public schools are deteriorating may point to teacher shortages. It is true that some educators have left the profession in recent years; however, LESD79 has made a concerted effort to promote a more balanced and productive workplace, as well as implemented innovative programs that make it easier for aspiring teachers to obtain their certification. Some of the best teachers in Arizona work for LESD79 because we respect the professionalism our educators bring to the classroom, which is critical to cultivate talented current and future teachers.

Here are more facts to dispel some of the common misconceptions:

  • Students are lead in the "Pledge of Allegiance" every morning.
  • Our local school boards have never discussed adopting critical race theory curriculum.
  • Elementary students are taught how to read and write in cursive.
  • Middle school students are taught the Constitution. High school students must pass a civics test to graduate. Most importantly, public schools still teach the basics — reading, writing and arithmetic — at more advanced levels than ever before.

I am passionate about public education because of my family history. My great-grandparents never learned to read or write. My grandparents attended public schools.  My father attended public school, and through the Air Force ROTC program, went on to obtain multiple degrees, including a law degree. My family went from illiterate to a juris doctorate in two generations thanks to grit, determination and public education. Like countless others, public schools have been vital to making my family’s American Dream a reality.

If your life has been positively impacted by public schools, please join me in working to strengthen public education, instead of tearing it down. Here’s what you can do:

  • School Support — volunteer on campus, attend an athletic event or schedule a tour to witness the amazing work of students and teachers.
  • District Support — vote yes to maintain or increase local funding for teacher salaries, safety and building maintenance through election ballot measures (overrides and bonds) and consider attending a school board meeting to witness your local elected officials hard at work.
  • Teacher Support — write a note of gratitude or donate supplies to a classroom (search donorschoose.org for opportunities in your neighborhood).
  • Student Support — participate in the Arizona Public School Tax Credit to provide additional funds for extra-curriculars including athletics, music, band, art and other student enrichment programs.
  • Public Education Support — vote for lawmakers at every level (local school board to POTUS) who are committed to protecting and improving public education. The success of public schools is not a partisan issue.

My story would not be the same without the positive impact of public education. I believe public schools are vital to our country’s future. Let’s work together to champion an effective public school system that strengthens and benefits current and future generations.