Three Arizona Schools Candidates Hold Differing Views

Three candidates are running for the post of Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Arizona schools in the September 12th election. Current Superintendent Tom Horne is running as the unopposed Republican candidate, seeking his second term in office. Two Democrats are challenging Horne — Slade Mead and Jason Williams. Mead is a sports agent, a former state senator, a former Kyrene School District board member, and a former Republican. Williams is a former middle school math and science teacher, and a former executive director of a nonprofit organization that recruits teachers for low-income and rural areas.

Two major issues that will be facing the newly elected superintendent are the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) tests and school vouchers.

AIMS. This year was the first to require all high school seniors in the AZ schools to pass the AIMS test in order to graduate. The candidates have differing views on AIMS and its use.

Horne is a strong advocate of the graduation requirement, believing that it makes students accountable for what they learn. He commented that it makes Arizona schools students take their education seriously, because they will not be handed a diploma if they fake their way through school.

Williams would like the graduation requirement eliminated and to use AIMS as a benchmark for learning, gauging just how well Arizona schools students are retaining knowledge. He believes this would take the pressure off students, when used as a diagnostic tool. Williams disagrees with Horne concerning students taking learning more seriously because of AIMS. He noted that 15,000 students, who enrolled as Arizona schools freshmen in 2002, had dropped out of school before the Class of 2006 graduated.

Mead agrees with Williams that AIMS would make a better assessment tool for the Arizona schools and that the passing requirement for graduation be eliminated. He has stated that the current administration of AIMS is a “sham” with only a passing grade requirement of 59 percent. A “C” average student within the Arizona schools only need answer six mathematics questions correctly out of 56. He also would like to see AIMS administered as the state of Wyoming does its testing — students take the test directly on a computer, the results are instantly scored, and then the scores are immediately sent to the teachers for evaluation.

School Vouchers. Another hot button for many educators, parents and the community are school vouchers, whereby some students may attend private schools funded by the taxpayers. Under a newly passed budget, that state has authorized $5 million in private school vouchers for disabled and foster-care students. All three candidates are opposed to vouchers for private schools.

Incumbent Horne stated that Arizona schools already are the leading proponent for parental choice in the nation, with charter schools, open enrollment policies, and tax credits. He noted that the Manhattan Institute ranks the Arizona schools as number one out of 50 in parental choice. He also pointed out that the state constitution prohibits the use of public funds for religious or private schools.

Because the state legislature already passed the use of school vouchers into law, Mead only stated his opposition to them and that, if elected, he would ensure that the Arizona schools accounted for every cent used for school vouchers.

Williams pointed out that private schools do not automatically do a better job than public ones. He sees the voucher system as a way of giving up on public education in the Arizona schools.

Though these are the two hot-button issues in this upcoming election, undoubtedly there are many more for which the parents and communities of the Arizona schools should be concerned. Ensure that you check out the three candidates and what they have to say about all of the issues — and make your voice heard in September by voting for the candidate of your choice.

Overcoming Adversities and Successful Leadership: The US Senator Daniel Inouye Story

This groundbreaking leadership research by has received extensive endorsements and enthusiastic reviews from well-known prominent business, political, and academic leaders who either participated in the study or reviewed the research findings. You will discover the proven success habits and secrets of people who, in spite of difficult or life threatening challenges shaped their own destiny to become successful, effective leaders. The full results of this research will be presented in the upcoming book by Dr. Howard Edward Haller titled “Leadership: View from the Shoulders of Giants.”

The nine initial prominent successful leaders who overcame adversity that were interviewed included: Dr. Tony Bonanzino, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, Monzer Hourani, U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Dr. John Malone, Larry Pino, U.S. Army Major General Sid Shachnow, Dr. Blenda Wilson, and Zig Ziglar.

The data from the above nine research participants was materially augmented by seven other successful leaders who overcame adversity including: Jack Canfield, William Draper III, Mark Victor Hansen, J. Terrence Lanni, Angelo Mozilo, Dr. Nido Qubein, and Dr. John Sperling.

Additionally, five internationally known and respected leadership scholars offered their reviews of the leadership research findings including: Dr. Ken Blanchard, Jim Kouzes, Dr. John Kotter, Dr. Paul Stoltz, and Dr. Meg Wheatley.

This is a short biography of one of the principal participants who generously contributed their time and insight for this important research into the phenomenon of how prominent successful leaders overcome adversity and obstacles. This is Senator Daniel Inouye’s story.

Daniel Inouye is the eldest son of Japanese immigrants who worked on the Hawaiian sugar plantations where Daniel was born and raised. He lived in what he described as a “Japanese-American ghetto.” He went to the local Hawaiian school, at which “the student body was 90% ethnic Japanese.”

As a young boy, Daniel accidentally fell and broke his left arm in a terrible compound fracture. The local doctor, an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, set the arm. It mended, but not well. In his autobiography, Inouye wrote, “My arm hung limp and crooked and I could barely move it” (1968, p. 49). After two years of searching his parents, “contacted the best orthopedic surgeon in Hawaii,” who reconstructed Dan’s “left arm and made it good as new.” That incident formed the basis of Daniel’s career goal: to become an orthopedic surgeon. He told the orthopedic surgeon who repaired his arm and restored it to full use, “I’m going to be a doctor, like you.” He faced racial discrimination when he was nominated to the local honor society in high school and was made to feel most unwelcome there.

While still in high school, Dan became a volunteer with the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Then the “entire world turned upside down” on December 7, 1942. After the bombing, the secretary of the local American Red Cross chapter called young Daniel into action immediately, having him “help with injured people who had been rescued from fallen debris, as well as the other wounded that needed treatment.” Daniel shared that his life had been changed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor:

The war came along, and the challenge was immense, not just physical, but emotional. My loyalty, together with those of my generation, was questioned. We were looked upon as enemy agents, and our friends of Japanese ancestry were placed in camps, without any trial. And that was something that, though I was fairly young, I felt had to be overcome.

Though Daniel was of Japanese descent, he was “100% American.” The following year, when President Franklin Roosevelt finally allowed the Nisei (second-generation Japanese-Americans) to join the United States military, Daniel attempted to enlist, but he was turned down. Unwilling to accept “no” as an answer, he requested information from the draft board concerning his rejection. The clerk found that Daniel was “working 72 hours a week at the aid station” of the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Dan was told, “You’re already making an essential defense contribution, and you’re enrolled in a pre-med course at the University, and Lord knows we’ll be needing doctors.” So he dropped out of the University of Hawaii and quit his job with the Red Cross. Then he re-applied.

This time his application was accepted. Inouye was bright and eager to serve. “In the military, there was another challenge, or obstacle.” Dan said, “I was the assistant squad leader. Then, the youngest person was about two years my senior, and the oldest was about 15 years my senior.” Because these were Japanese-American soldiers who all came from “a society where age makes a difference . . . where elders are looked upon with a bit more respect than the younger ones, it was a challenge. So,

I had to work overtime at that, to justify that position.”
He was promoted rapidly, first to corporal and then to sergeant. Daniel and his unit were sent to Italy to fight. He earned a battlefield commission to second lieutenant while fighting in Europe. In one battle in Italy, near the end of World War II in Europe, young Lieutenant Inouye had his right arm essentially shot off. In spite of the intense pain, he insisted on remaining at the battle scene, directing and protecting his troops, though he had tourniquets on his right shoulder and the stub of that arm. He was decorated for his heroism, receiving a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and the Distinguished Service Cross. He was also recommended for, and later received, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Lieutenant Inouye was transferred back to the United States to receive treatment and rehabilitation for his wounds.

Senator Inouye told me, “I specifically chose to do my rehabilitation as far away from Hawaii as possible,” because he had always been sheltered. He explained, “I had experienced only limited contact with anything outside my Japanese-American neighborhood.” He wanted to see how other people lived, and became cultured in the ways of the “hoale” [white] world in the process. “I underwent a ‘Pygmalion transformation,’ learning how to formally dine with silver and china, attending cultural events and meetings with as many different types of people as I possibly could.”

Inouye shared that his generation, “in Hawaii, [came] from [Japanese-American] ethnic enclaves [who] spoke a strange brand of pidgin-English. So I felt that if I lived in a community where you were literally forced to change your way of communicating, it would help. And it did.” Daniel specifically noted, “In fact, the highest compliment paid was when I returned home to Hawaii, and I opened my mouth to see how [my mother] was, she said, ‘You speak like a ‘hoale’!” During his lengthy rehabilitation, Daniel decided to finish college, get a law degree, and then enter into public service.

He left the U.S. Army as a captain, returned to the University of Hawaii, and married a Japanese-American girl, Margaret Awamura. He completed “law school with a Juris Doctorate at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in just two years,” and then returned to Hawaii, where he “took and passed the Territorial Bar exam.”

In 1959 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the new State of Hawaii, becoming the first Japanese-American ever to be elected to the U.S. Congress. Inouye was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962, and has been re-elected every six years since then. Senator Daniel K. Inouye is the third highest-ranking member of the United States Senate.

Copyright 2006 © Howard Edward Haller, Ph.D.

Standardized Final Exams For Arizona Schools-Better For The Students Or Just Another Measurement

There is currently a bill in the Arizona state legislature, proposing that the state create standardized final exams for specific core high school courses within the Arizona schools. The bill was introduced by the Senate Education Committee Chairman and has the support of many key educational figures.

Arizona schools chief Tom Horne supports the bill, as does several educational researchers. Paul Koehler, director of WestEd (a nonprofit research agency) also lends support, stating that state standardized final exams gives the state and Arizona schools a “broader and more logical profile” of Arizona schools students’ performance.

Along with high school core courses, art and music also would receive the Arizona schools’ standardized final exams; and grades three, six and seven would receive state-designed final exams in social studies.

Each district within the Arizona schools could choose to administer only the state final exams or in addition to their own exams.

The idea of standardized end-of-course exams comes from the Advanced Placement courses that allow Arizona schools’ students to earn college credits while in high school. Other states already successfully use the state standardized final exam system. New York gives special diplomas to their students who successfully pass the state standardized end-of-course exams.

Consistency and Accountability

State standardized testing for the Arizona schools is believed to ensure consistency in teaching across the state. The Arizona schools can, at the state level, determine if individual schools are offering the same quality teaching and learning as schools in other areas of the state. Arizona State University professor Thomas Haladyna believes the state-design and mandated final exams will allow the Arizona schools to determine if children are receiving a good education, eliminating the haphazard teaching that occurs in the schools today and instituting a more systematic approach to teaching.

Enough Is Enough

Currently, the teachers or districts design final exams for all coursework. The Mesa school system is the largest district in the Arizona schools. They already use district-wide final exams that are created by district teachers, who meet to design the end-of-course exams. Their testing director Joe O’Reilly voiced concerns that the district will lose the local involvement they currently have with state-mandated and designed final exams. He questions the lose of immediacy that the district now has, where exams are given, graded and returned the next day. Besides losing more control to the state, O’Reilly cannot understand how a multiple-choice test can measure student performance in music, painting, or in a chemistry lab.

Arizona schools’ parents already complain to school administrators of the amount of homework their children receive in reading, writing and math classes. They continually question whether the overload of work is to help their children learn or to raise the schools’ test scores on the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) exam, securing more funding for the schools.

Arizona schools parents have a right to be concerned, since the proposed final exams will not be used to determine student promotion to the next grade or whether a child graduates high school or not. The Arizona schools’ standardized state final exams only determine the rating of each school’s performance and will be used along with AIMS test scores and other factors, such as graduation and student attendance rates.