Throughout the month of May hundreds of Arizona Education Association (AEA) members from across the state will be working on completing a vision for Arizona schools in a COVID-19 health crisis society. The AEA Board of Directors voted to create a task force to set forth a vision for Arizona public schools as we plan for the next academic year.
“Arizona educators were asked in a matter of days to transition their instruction to one of distance learning and/or home packets,” says AEA President Joe Thomas. "As families stayed home to be safe, the inequitable resources of our current public education system became as clear for parents to see as they have been for educators who serve in our schools every day. We have much work to do.”
“Over the last month it has become clear that educators and schools are more than a place of direct instruction but are places of support and community for our students and families. This AEA task force has taken on this crisis as an opportunity to bring forward educator-led solutions for how we move forward into this new world,” says AEA Vice President and Task Force Chair Marisol Garcia.
Among other considerations, the task force will include recommendations that:
- keep central the health, safety, and physical and mental well-being of our students, our school staff, and the communities we serve;
- immediately address the structural inequities and systemic failures that rose to the surface during our time away from school buildings;
- create space for strong community engagement to partner in the succeeding work;
- divert from a focus on standardized testing and toward an emphasis of our schools as centers of creativity and critical thinking; and
- inclusion of the principles of social-emotional learning and trauma-informed classrooms in presenting safes campuses and educational opportunities for our students.
The task force’s charges include:
- Use existing data and member stories to identify equity issues and systemic failures and other opportunities to remove barriers to a quality education.
- Develop guidance for Arizona schools to move into a post-COVID-19 reality, ensuring optimal learning environments, healthy and safe students and staff, and build in institutional support for all members of the school community.
- Develop specific expectations and best practices to be included in Closure Action Plans in the event school facilities are ordered closed by local or state declarations.