Category Archives: Charter Schools

New Progressive Enthusiasm and Energy at Arizona’s State Capital

Democratic Lawmakers rally at the Capital Rose Garden on the first day of the Legislative Session. Photo courtesy of Lynsey Robinson, Second Vice Chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party.

There is a new Progressive Enthusiasm and Energy at Arizona’s State Capital

It can be seen in the hallways where people crowded the Democratic offices of the House joyfully discussing the legislative prospects for 2019.

It could be seen with the female Democratic legislators wearing white to honor the suffragette movement of 100 years ago.

It could be seen in the early morning rallies with progressive organizations and legislative leaders passionately expressing hope for their ideas and proposals for the New Year.

It could be seen on the House Floor where the parties are at their closest margins since 1966 and some state offices (Education and Secretary of State) were held once again by Democrats.

Democrats, encouraged by the 2018 elections, are ready to shape the legislative agenda and propel the state in a forward direction. Thanks to the gracious invitation of Legislative District 18 (where the author is also a PC) State Representative Mitzi Epstein, this writer was able to witness the events of the day including Governor Ducey’s State of the State Address.

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An Interview with Superintendent of Public Instruction Elect Kathy Hoffman

“I am looking forward to being the voice for public education and elevating the voices of teachers and students," says Kathy Hoffman.

“I am looking forward to being the voice for public education and elevating the voices of teachers and students,” says newly-elected Kathy Hoffman.

During the 2018 election campaign in Arizona, one person personified the Cinderella theme of coming from nowhere to win statewide office.

No, it was not Katie Hobbs. It was not Kyrsten Sinema. It was the incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman.

A speech therapist, Hoffman achieved the “Impossible Dream” of Arizona electoral politics this year by her meteoritic rise to become the state’s top educator. She bested seasoned political veterans David Schipara in the August primaries and Frank Riggs in the November general elections. After Senator-Elect Sinema, she was the top vote-getter among Democrats.

A new star in the Democratic Party, Ms. Hoffman sat down with the Blog for Arizona a third time to reflect on her victory, discuss her transition, and chart a course for her first year in office. The questions and responses are below.

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Wealth Redistributed

Noliwe M. Rooks, director of American studies at Cornell University

Noliwe M. Rooks, director of American studies at Cornell University

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I was recently in a public forum on education when a school board member asked me whether my call to address inequities in our schools was a call for the “redistribution of wealth.” I told him local control dictates that our Governing Boards, representing the communities in which they live, are best positioned to decide how to allocate district resources for the maximum benefit of all their students.  I hoped, I said, they would do that.

His question though, caused me to think about this term, and why it seems to be a lightning rod for conservatives. Social scientist researcher Brené Brown believes it is because of the “scarcity” worldview held by Republicans/conservatives. “The opposite of scarcity is not abundance” she writes, “It’s enough.” Basically, “they believe that the more people they exclude from “having”, the more is available to them.” And, in this binary way of thinking, the world is very black and white (pun sort of intended), e.g., if you aren’t a success, you’re a failure, and should be excluded. Of course, this sort of mindset is a gold mine for those who fear-monger to garner support for their exclusionary agendas. “We’ve got to stop the illegal hoards from coming across the border” the narrative goes, or “they’ll be stealing our jobs and elections.” Continue reading

LD9 Debate Reveals Stark Contrasts between Democrat & Republican Candidates (video)

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (right) and Republican challenger Ana Henderson.

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (right) and Republican challenger Ana Henderson.

Can’t decide how to vote in the November 6 election? If you live in Legislative District 9, check out the LD9 debate before casting your vote.

The debate video below reveals clear differences between the candidates on key issues such as the minimum wage, food security, the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), climate change, abortion, gun violence, and more.

Five people are running for the three LD9 Legislative seats: incumbent Democrats Reps. Randy Friese and Pamela Powers Hannley (me), Republican challenger Ana Henderson, and Senate candidates former Democratic representative Victoria Steele and Republican write-in candidate Randy Fleenor.

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) conducts candidate debates, videotapes them, and stores them on their website and YouTube channel. If you live in a district other than LD9, check out the CCEC archive for the other 2018 debate videos. For Southern Arizona Legislative Districts, here are links to debates for LD2, LD3, LD10, LD11, LD8, and LD14. (The LD9 debate is embedded below.

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The Arizona Republic endorses Kathy Hoffman for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Four years ago it was widely assumed that David Garcia would be elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. His opponent, Diane Douglas, barely ran a visible campaign for the office. But due to a GOP voter registration edge in Arizona and mindless GOP tribalism in the voter booth, Diane Douglas won in the shocker of the 2014 election.

Douglas has been controversial and a complete disaster during her tenure as Superintendent of Public Instruction. This is why she was defeated for reelection in the GOP primary back in August. Hindsight is always 20-20. These Republican voters should have been more discerning back in 2014 instead of voting out of GOP tribalism. They could have saved everyone a lot of unnecessary trauma from the antics of Diane Douglas. Republicans should keep this lesson in mind this year.

The Arizona Republic endorses Democratic candidate Kathy Hoffman for Superintendent of Public Instruction. What’s the best quality to help Arizona public schools: Experience or energy?

The race for superintendent of public instruction hinges on the answer to one simple question: Is experience or energy needed more?

The superintendent doesn’t have the power to boost teacher pay or raise taxes to bolster education funding, the two issues driving current education debates. That’s up to the Legislature, the state Board of Education and local school boards.

But this race matters because the winner will oversee the Department of Education – which is basically broken [after the disastrous tenure of Diane Douglas].

There has been heavy turnover during outgoing superintendent Diane Douglas’s tenure. Many experts have left, and morale is in the tank for those who remain. Not surprisingly, this office is no longer producing the helpful training, reliable policy direction and robust student-achievement data that Arizona’s public schools need.

It needs a fixer – someone who can break up the status quo and reinvigorate the department.

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