Tom Horne visits local CAS Elementary and Middle Schools
Iliana Gamez/The Daily Dispatch
During his visit to CAS elementary and middle school on September 6, 2006, Arizona State Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Horne demonstrated his interest and dedication to the school system. In a short but insightful interview Horne talked about his visit to the Douglas CAS campus, his thoughts on education, main focuses and testing results in Arizona schools.
Horne will be visiting a lot of schools in Cochise County; he is choosing one school for each location. Horne says he's proud to visit CAS because they are a high performing school with a high percentage of students passing AIMS. Horne has served as a Paradise board member for 24 years and as President for 10 years and oversees 1800 schools in Arizona. Paradise Valley School District is the third largest district and I am very proud to be involved and able to make a difference in our schools. Horne said, "I have always felt that character schools are good for the district because competition makes everyone better. I think they're a highly performing school and I can see the children's faces are enlightened with happiness. CAS is doing a good job at teaching them about social graces and that will develop productive individuals."
Horne says his emphasis has been academic rigor for the last four years. "We are holding school, teachers and students accountable and as a result test scores have gone up" said Horne. He is also a great believer in Character Education and Character Counts, a program now practiced in over 500 schools throughout Arizona. According to Horne, this education program focuses on 6 pillars of character; responsibility, trustworthiness, respect, fairness, caring and citizenship. Horne said, "By helping the Shelter for Battered Women, CAS students are showing responsibility, character and citizenship." Horne believes education is a broad and important area to cover; students need to be challenged in all areas of development. "Just as important as it is to develop student's academic abilities, it's important to develop their character traits so that they use their academic abilities to better their community."
Arizona is one of the lowest ranking states when it comes to AIMS and other proficiency tests; however Horne seems optimistic about Arizona schools. "Over the past four years proficiency has gone up from 55% to 70% and we now perform above the national average in the Terra Nova Test, a test used to compare ourselves with other states." Hone also mentioned that the AZ average increased more than the National average among Scholastic Aptitude test and ACT results. He feels students in Arizona are improving academically and stepping up to the challenge.
Horne is very supportive of teachers; he feels they have the noblest profession, one that gives rewards other than financial that no amount of money could buy. "One of my initiatives is to support teachers in maintaining discipline in the classroom, because I think good discipline is a pre condition to academic achievement," said Horne. Teaching is very serious to Horne and he feels teachers need to take education seriously and install the same sentiment in their students.
Horne will be seeking reelection as AZ State Superintendent of Public Schools and hopes to continue the emphasis on academic rigor in the classroom. If elected Horne will serve a four year term, beginning in 2006 and ending in 2010. Elections will be held in November, 2006.