Our Schools

“Knowledge is Power”

What better way to impart to our children the knowledge and strength they will need to face the adult world than to provide them with a first-rate public education? Few areas of public policy are as important for the future of our state as the education of our children.

Our state and local public school districts have the primary responsibility to put together the nuts and bolts of the educational process. It’s through these basics, aided by the partnership of parents, students, teachers, and administrators that the everyday experience of learning takes place.

But we in Arizona are not doing our jobs. Arizona ranks 2nd in the country in school dropouts, and 49th in the country in education spending per student. One in ten teenage girls are pregnant before the age of 17. And these statistics are from the period prior to the most recent series of draconian budget cuts aimed at our schools and universities, which will, undoubtedly, exacerbate these problems.

Rebecca, Kent's niece

But these are more than mere statistics. These are lives in jeopardy. These are children crying out for us to do our jobs. These are families, and voters, asking why their elected officials don’t fulfill the promises that they make, and rise to meet their own rhetoric.

During these hard economic times of budget shortfalls and rising costs, education cuts seem to some to be necessary. But it's shortsighted to solve these problems on the backs of our children; parents would never try to balance a family budget by asking their children to eat fewer vegetables! In the short term, our funding for education must remain level. In the long term, as our economy rebounds, this funding must be increased to a level commensurate with our political rhetoric on the importance of education.

Kent pledges, once elected, to do everything in his power to reverse the devastating cuts to our educational system imposed by our Legislature over the last two years; as the economy improves, Kent will fight to assign a great deal of any increased state revenues to Arizona's educational system. Nothing is more important to him than the quality of the education we provide to our children.

To begin with, we need to pay our teachers salaries that recognize the importance of their profession, and which are commensurate with their level of education. It's crucial that we keep the most effective teachers in Arizona, and that we stop the "brain drain" of teachers to states and professions that pay higher salaries.

The most important age groups to target are those that are most formative. Countless studies have shown that investing in the education of children up to the 3rd grade is in the long run, both frugal and cost-effective. Every dollar spent getting children off to the right start in life will save as much as ten dollars that might otherwise be spent on the same individual later in life. (These extra costs are frequently incurred within the criminal justice system!) If a child is hooked on learning when young, the rest of their educational years will be an exciting adventure into the world of the unknown.

The extra investment in the short term will be far offset in the long term by children who are better educated, who stay in school, and remain excited about learning for the rest of their lives.

Kent proposes that the Arizona Legislature take a systematic approach to helping parents prepare their children for success in school. We should have programs to encourage parents to read with their children on a daily basis, thus instilling the critical love of reading that is important to the learning process. Once elected, Kent will work to convince the Legislature to support programs that provide nutritional counseling and education for parents, so that their children develop to their potential physically as well as mentally. Kent believes the Legislature should also support early childhood education through daycare centers, as well as in public schools.

The No Child Left Behind and the AIMS testing systems have failed because they focus on testing what our children have already learned, as opposed to focusing on teaching them how to learn. This is akin to testing nothing but the caboose of a train, and ignoring its engine. With a proper focus on the quality of children's entrance into formal education, the exit from high school will naturally be a success!

Kent proposes that the Legislature reevaluate the laws, which govern Arizona's charter schools. Many charter schools, although lacking in facilities, nonetheless provide quality educations; however, Kent believes that charter schools are draining valuable funds from our public schools, and are undermining the integrity and infrastructure of our public school system, one of our country's most admired, influential, and seminal achievements. The education of our children should not be outsourced and privatized; instead, the public school system should be upgraded, updated, and fixed from within. It is up to the Legislature to make sure that our school districts have the resources to do this.

Our children are digital natives growing up in a world where they interact naturally with a bewildering array of electronic devices. The older generations are digital immigrants, but must be supportive of our children, who will compete with other digital natives from around the world. Our schools need to provide up-to-date technology for our children, while still grounding them in the history of human thought and experience.

And last, but not least, our Universities and Junior Colleges need our strong and continued support. We have created world-class communities of learning that our children, and their children, will depend on for their post-secondary education, and we must continue to adequately fund them. Remember that the educational adventure that our children embark on in their formative years will ideally culminate with them landing college degrees, high-paying jobs, and successful lives, and will thus produce adults who will have the intellectual skills to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

Kent’s vision is that Arizona no longer has the 2nd highest dropout rate in the country; instead, we should have the number one college graduation rate in the country. (Back to Home Page)