First TUSD Governing Board candidates’ forum



9 candidates are seeking the 2 positions open on this voluntary board for Tucson Unified School District, currently held by President Adelita Grijalva and Michael Hicks. Read more in my previous post on these 9 candidates, running in a nonpartisan race.

Another forum coming up on Monday September 15 at Democrats of Greater Tucson at high noon. See Blog for AZ Calendar for more details.

Board member Hicks and candidate Debe Campos-Fleenor spoke on Monday August 25 to the Tucson Republican Women’s Club at the Viscount Suites Hotel.

Tucson Education Association has endorsed  board member Adelita Grijalva for this TUSD School Bd.

Vote wisely on or before November 4, 2014.

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Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).


  1. Bd. members Michael Hicks & Mark Stegeman speaking at Pima County Republican Club on Sept. 9, 11:30 a.m. Sabbar Shriner’s Temple, 450 S. Tucson Blvd. They both spoke there previously on March 25, 2014, along with candidate Debe Campos-Fleenor.

  2. Whoa! I specifically answered that I thought that the question posed a “false dichotomy”….doesn’t that get at some of what you were looking for John?

  3. 8 of the 9 candidates were at this forum moderated by former Mayor Tom Volgy. After introductory statements they answered 2 questions sent to them about how to help school staff w/ low socio-economic/minority students and describe 2 specific things to improve education at TUSD. Then 6 other questions were presented about the deseg plan & culturally relevant classes, how to insure that discipline administered fairly, choice between increasing teacher salaries or reducing class size, how to increase transparency, whether the $300,000 marketing campaign was well spent, and how to tell a neighbor why to send their children to TUSD. Then shorter questions were asked to only 3 of the candidates about school vouchers, under-performing schools, mandatory P.E., empty school sites. In attendance tonight were three other board members – Dr. Mark Stegeman, Cam Juarez, Kristel Foster, plus TUSD Superintendent HT Sanchez, Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik, former Councilwoman Molly McKasson, and over 100 voters & children.

    • I was disappointed in all the candidates’ responses to the “class size versus teacher salary” question because they all answered the question. I was hoping someone would reject the premise of the question. When the legislature cut funding to the schools, the district responded by letting class size creep up and salaries creep down. If/when there is money available, both of these problems need to get fixed. This illustrates what is wrong with “multiple-choice thinking” as demanded by the AIMS and similar tests: In real life, you do not get to pick the single best answer from a short list. In real life, you have to deal with more than one problem at a time.

      We don’t want single-issue candidates, because we live in a multi-issue world.

      • Thanks John for your comment. It was a difficult question for the candidates to answer. I did not like the format of the forum especially that last section when Betts Putnam-Hidalgo did not get to answer any of those four questions presented.

        • At one level it is entirely correct to say that the candidates struggled to answer the salary / class size question. However, that leaves open a couple of super-important issues.

          1) Should this have been a stumper? I say it should not have been, for at least two reasons. (1a) This is the sort of topic a school board member — or candidate — should be up-to-speed on. They should think about this 25 hours a day: If we had some money, what would we spend it on? (1b) Even if they weren’t prepared in advance, basic reasoning skills should suffice. When you get a question, you should always start by asking yourself whether the question ill-posed. I believe in giving the customer what he wants, but very often what he wants and needs is not even remotely similar to what he is asking for. Very often when the customer asks for something overly specific, the only correct response is to offer him something else instead. Politicians generally are notorious for not answering the question that was asked. Sometimes, however, this is the right approach. If the question as stated has no correct answer, the only reasonable response is to answer a slightly different question. Survival in the real world requires dealing with a long string of ill-posed questions. The fact that our schools don’t train people to do this properly is embarrassing and scary.

          2) Even if you think this is intrinsically a hard problem, we should still expect Governing Board members to be able to handle hard problems! Easy problems get solved by the students. Harder problems get dealt with by the teacher. Still-harder problems get escalated to the assistant principal. And so on through eleventeen layers of bureaucracy. Then, if people don’t like the way the superintendent is handling it, the Board gets involved. Folks who can’t handle truly, exquisitely hard problems shouldn’t be running for the Board, because that’s the only type of problems the Board ever gets to see.

  4. Just read from Star article that candidate Francis Saitta will not be in attendance tonight. All other eight are scheduled to be there.

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