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Yuma County school superintendent leads state board
Yuma County School Superintendent Tom Tyree has been appointed as the president of the Arizona State Board of Education.
Tyree, who has been in education for over 42 years, was appointed to the state board in 2010 by Gov. Jan Brewer and served as the vice president for the past two years.
He said that he is looking forward to serving in this new position and is grateful for the opportunity to do so.
“First of all, it's just a real honor to get to serve on the state board and especially to be able to work with the quality of the people that are on that board. It's an outstanding board, very strong people intellectually, people who are really good as it relates to the policy making that we do,” he said.
Tyree, who has served as the county superintendent in Yuma for the past decade, said that with a lot of initiatives at the state level seemingly centered around the Phoenix area, he hopes to make sure Yuma's voice is also heard.
“In my capacity as president of the board, I bring to it a perspective that comes from outside of Maricopa County and a perspective that represents the rural part of the state... Yuma is a special place, there have been a number of people throughout the years that have served in various capacities where they have served on state boards and other positions and have represented us so well. I just hope that I'm able to continue that tradition.”
Tyree said that his role as president will consist of continuing to work further with the board as well as legislators, the governor's office and the Arizona Department of Education to craft education policy.
Currently, he said, they are involved with the implementation of the Common Core standards and the transition into the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessment.
“We have a number of decisions that we will be addressing going forward during this next year and some of the other things that will go along with it,” Tyree said. “For example, how we're going to determine the A-F grades that schools are assigned ... Yesterday we just finalized some language as it relates to the evaluation of teachers in Arizona; those are policy things that we'll continue to address as we go forward.”
On a personal level, he said that he would like to see the state board work more effectively with policy makers. Sometimes policy is created and the board is left to work out the issues of how it will be implemented.
“I don't think we should be making policy in isolation from each other,” he said. “As policy or as legislation is created in Arizona, I'd like to see us work together on putting that together on the front end – it's my belief that if we would work more corroboratively that the end product will be a lot better... I'll try to work personally as best as I can, as the president of the board, to work collaborate with those policy makers as I represent the board.”
He added that he would also like to work more with educators in the field, getting their input before policy is put into place. Recently, they reached out to human resources personnel in districts around the state before finalizing various categories that teachers would be evaluated in.
“I think that was very helpful in giving the board a perspective... Since they're the ones that have to work with the teachers it was very helpful to know what they thought, and I think we came up with a better product because we involved some of those people.”
Overall, he concluded that he hopes be a strong advocate for public education in Arizona during his 12-month term.
“I'm excited to be able to serve in this capacity and I look forward to the things that I will be involved in... My intention is to obviously serve all of the state of Arizona, but I'll always carry the perspective of being from Yuma and being from a rural county.”