This winter, we witnessed athletes from around the world show what it means to expect more. Canada had never won a single gold medal on their home turf. They expected more and set the record for the most gold won in any Winter Olympics. The United States set out to dominate the medal count. We won 37. That’s an all time record.

In Olympic competition, we expect nothing but the best of athletes.  In turn, athletes expect the best of themselves, aiming for a spot on the ceremonial platform and work their whole lives for a shot at the gold.

Now take that Olympic example of high expectations and apply it to Arizona’s education system.  Do we have the same expectations for our students? Do we encourage students to have the highest expectations of themselves? In sports, average isn’t good enough.  There’s much to be learned from a culture that sets the bar high and motivates everyone involved to rise to the occasion.

Quality Counts, an annual report card published by Education Week, grades all 50 states in the U.S. on six areas of education performance and policies, ranked Arizona an overall “C-“.  Although Arizona’s grade is just slightly below the national average, the state’s ranking dropped from 43rd to 46th place this year.  Maryland received the highest grade (B+), followed by Massachusetts and New York, both of which received overall “B” grades.

Arizona’s lowest marks were in the areas of K-12 achievement (D); teaching profession (D); and school finance (D+).  The state’s highest grade was in the standards, assessments and accountability category (A-), an area in which most states scored high. With our state’s future success being largely dependent upon young people’s ability to compete in the global economy, Arizona has significant opportunity to improve support, performance and investment in education across the entire education continuum – from birth through career.

For the good of education and Arizona’s long-term prosperity, it’s time we took the lead of our world’s best athletes.  In this new environment, average isn’t good enough.  Let’s set our expectations high, commit to working hard, rally the support of the community and… Go for the gold!  Learn more about how you can take action today.