The answer to most of the challenges facing education is an excellent classroom teacher. Each one of us can name a teacher who made a positive impact in our lives and inspired us to be more than we thought we could be. For me, the list is long. I had many great teachers.

It is difficult for teachers to make that important human connection with each child when classes are too large. At some point, education becomes less about teaching and more about crowd control.

Data shows that the optimal class size in the youngest grades is 20 and fewer. This coincides with data that also supports the importance of learning to read by the end of third grade.

In addition, the classroom teacher has been asked to do more and more. In an effort to improve outcomes for our kids, countless programs are implemented through our teachers. While well-intentioned, these programs tend to overwhelm and water down the ability of teachers to build authentic relationships with students. Many times, the resources for these programs would be better focused on hiring more teachers and reducing class size.

I have called on educational leaders in Maricopa County to free teachers from programs created to cater to the lowest common denominator, and allow teachers to have autonomy and unleash their creativity to truly inspire students.