Arizona's future depends on world-class education for our kids
Arizona Republic
April 13, 2008


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - April 13, 2008

Author: Susan Carlson, Special for The Republic

The capacity of countries ... to compete in the global knowledge economy increasingly depends on whether they can meet a fast-growing demand for high-level skills. This, in turn, hinges on significant improvements in the quality of schooling outcomes and a more equitable distribution in learning opportunities."

Thus begins the forward to the McKinsey report, How the World's Best-Performing School Systems Come out on Top. "Success will go to those individuals and countries which are swift to adapt, slow to complain and open to change," says Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD.

The OECD is an international organization that brings together the governments of 30 member countries committed to democracy and the market economy sharing expertise and exchanging views with more than 100 other countries and economies from Brazil, China, and Russia to the least-developed countries in Africa. The McKinsey report is the result of research initiated by the OECD, comparing the top-performing school systems worldwide and focusing on those elements that affect teaching and learning. Researchers analyzed the achievements of the best-performing school systems based on the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), surveyed current literature and interviewed more than 100 policymakers and practitioners.

They concluded that the best-performing school systems worldwide have three things in common: they focus on getting the right people to become teachers; they develop them into effective instructors; and they ensure that the system is able to deliver the best possible instruction for every child.

Converging factors in Arizona, including increased K-12 graduation requirements and the need to properly educate ELL students, underscore the importance of teacher quality. We need to attract the right teachers to educate our students, particularly in math and science.

Achieving world-class education is a worthy goal for Arizona children and our economy. So, how does Arizona attract the right people when the rhetoric in the media is so negative about teachers and education? How do we attract the top 10 percent to teaching with an average entry pay of about $33,000? How do we keep the right people in the classroom and recognize their skills and successes?

Citizens and policymakers should act upon these questions, among others, for Arizona's future.

Susan Carlson can be reached at 602-261-6700 or by e-mail at

Edition: Final Chaser
Section: VALLEY & State
Page: B4
Dateline: AZ
Record Number: pho100325182