New Book by David Garcia, Arizona Candidate for Governor, is a Blueprint to Dismantle Public Education

An upcoming book by Governor candidate David R. Garcia entitled School Choice is a blueprint on how to dismantle public education in Arizona, complete with practical tips on how to implement school vouchers and ESAs (“empowerment scholarship accounts”).

The Blog for Arizona exclusively obtained a review copy of the 196-page book, which will be published one month after the primary elections on September 28, 2018, by The MIT Press.

The book is not an academic work. Garcia says it is for a “general audience” on page 97. It is a how-to playbook for the anti-public-school, pro-school-voucher agenda pushed by Gov. Doug Ducey and the Koch brothers, complete with strategies, arguments, legal precedents to cite, successful examples and historic points of reference.

Garcia is facing Democrats Steven Farley and Kelly Fryer in the primary. Gov. Doug Ducey is running for re-election.

As the 2018 midterms approach, Arizona is one of the biggest political battlegrounds nationwide and public education is a major issue. The Southwestern state features one of the top 9 most important state legislature races in the US in the midterm elections. Arizona is expected to decide the control of the U.S. Senate in this year’s congressional midterm elections.

Book has a strong bias against public schools

David N. Gibbs, Professor of History of the University of Arizona also read the manuscript at my request and pronounced it “disturbing,” because Garcia’s website says, on the one hand, that he wants to “Replace Privatization Schemes with Good Public School Choices,” and that he will “Oppose Vouchers that are harmful, unaccountable and discriminatory in any shape, form or disguise. When elected, David will fight to end voucher schemes.”

Democratic candidate for Governor David Garcia

Democratic candidate for Governor David Garcia. He writes, “Arizona parents are regarded as consumers and encouraged to vote with their feet by exiting traditional public schools in favor of charter schools,”

But Gibbs said: “You can cite this book and can find information in it to support your case for charter schools and vouchers.” Gibbs leads the effort Kochs Off Campus! — a nonpartisan group of Tucson residents, UA faculty, and students concerned about the undue influence of right-wing money on public education.

“David Garcia’s book School Choice betrays a strong bias against public schools and in favor of privatization. While he does acknowledge some criticisms of school vouchers, charter schools and the like, the overwhelming tone is one of support. The language is tendentious and revealing, with advocates of vouchers and charter schools characterized as “pro-choice” activists, which implicitly disparages advocates of public schools as anti-choice.”

“This is the language of right-wing advocacy more than scholarship. When Garcia discusses Arizona’s leading role in promoting charter schools, one senses a measure of personal pride in the narrative. Milton Friedman is quoted liberally, and with a generally positive tone. Overall, reading the book gives me a strong sense that the author is an advocate for privatized education. His views on education do not seem very different from those of Doug Ducey — or Charles Koch.”

A Manchurian Candidate

Indeed, many Democrats consider Garcia a “Manchurian Candidate,” a person running for office who publicly supports one group to win an election, but who uses his executive or legislative powers to assist an opposing group.

For example, Garcia’s book offers legal tips for school voucher operatives to use. “ESA programs has been defended as constitutional even in states with Blaine amendments that prohibit direct government aid to religious educational institutions,” citing the court ruling in Niehaus v. Huppenthal, Maricopa County Superior Court of Arizona. 310 P.3d 983 (2013).

University of Arizona History Professor David N. Gibbs

University of Arizona History Professor David N. Gibbs says Garcia’s book “the language of right-wing advocacy more than scholarship.”

On page 80, Garcia adds a school-voucher strategy tip, “For this reason, I anticipate that ESA programs, rather than vouchers, will be expanded in the future. The legal precedent is set to allow policymakers seeking to provide students access to private religious schools through school choice policies to accomplish their goals through ESA programs.”

Garcia’s School Choice is a blueprint to dismantle public education in Arizona. Charter schools suck the lifeblood out of Arizona public schools, because 83 percent of funding for charter schools comes from the state, compared to only 44 percent for district public schools.

Republican Gov. Ducey and Libertarians disparage public schools as “government schools.” The explosion of charter schools has been an effective way to sabotage public education statewide. In Arizona, charter schools enroll 16 percent of the state student population, but they get 26 percent of state education funding.

On April 6, 2017, Ducey signed into law Senate Bill 1431, allowing parents to use prepaid bank cards to pay for education-related tuition and fees, textbooks, and curriculum for religious and for-profit private schools. This met an immediate negative response from the public. Parents, students and teachers in the statewide Save Our Schools movement have put a public initiative on the ballot (Proposition 305) to overturn’s Gov. Ducey’s “ESA” school voucher program.

Assistant Professor Jonathan Anomaly

Assistant Professor Jonathan Anomaly

A textbook for a right-wing class on education

“Arizona parents are regarded as consumers and encouraged to vote with their feet by exiting traditional public schools in favor of charter schools,” Garcia writes on page 37.

Garcia’s book is tailor-made for a Koch brothers course on public education. For example, Libertarian Assistant Professor Jonny Anomaly of the Koch Brothers’ “Freedom School” at the UA in Tucson describes education as a “good,” like a box of cereal, which students “consume.” Anomaly makes a bogus economic analysis of “markets for education,” as if education were a product to be bought and sold.

Gibbs says, “If you wanted to present a libertarian or right-wing course on education, you could use this textbook quite easily, because is so much information to support your case. You Can trot out that he’s a democrat and can’t be accused of only using Republican sources.”

In April 2018 UA professors and activists laid bare the Koch Brothers’ agenda to use Arizona’s universities to advance their anti-worker, anti-consumer and anti-public school agenda. At least 150 people attended “Dark Money, Charles Koch, and the UA Freedom Center” at the Tucson UA campus in April.

The speakers called on University to rigorously scrutinize the so-called “Freedom Center,” and called on Koch-funded Gov. Ducey to end the unique $2.5 million budget line-items especially for the Freedom Center.

“Arizona parents are regarded as consumers”

Garcia was the director of Research and Policy for the Arizona Department of Education for Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan while she was setting up Arizona’s charter school system.  As a legislator, Keegan was the prime sponsor of Arizona’s charter school laws, some of the most comprehensive charter school laws in the country.

Garcia writes on pp. 36-37: “Charter schools represent a major advancement in school choice policy due to the speed in which policymakers embraced charter school laws, the rapid growth of these schools, and student enrollment, and because in a few states, there are a sufficient number of charter schools to constitute a viable alternative sector of public schools. Arizona, for example, is home to over six hundred charter schools, representing 30 percent of all public schools and 17 percent of all public school students.”

Garcia writes: “Arizona has a strong charter school law, and these schools are positioned as competitors to traditional public schools. Policymakers leveraged charter school expansion to encourage an education marketplace by removing barriers to new charter school start-ups, empowering authorizing bodies to approve charter schools in any school district in the state without the permission of local school districts, exempting charter schools from most state requirements, including the requirement to hire certified teachers, and awarding organizations fifteen-year contracts to operate charter schools, the lengthiest such contracts in the country.”

Garcia even says on page 46, “Finally, there are indications that students who participate in the Arizona ESA program were enrolled in school districts with higher percentages of white students and wealthier than the general student population.”

Friedman: No school if you can’t pay

Starting on page 15, Garcia’s book lays out the thinking of Milton Friedman, an economist who first proposed universal school vouchers in 1955.

Gibbs says: “The book ignores damning findings by author Nancy MacLean, which she found in his private communications in 1959. What Friedman said he would really like to do is privatize education completely so that people would have to pay for the full cost of education. If you can’t afford it you can’t go to school.

“The book doesn’t mention that,” Gibbs said. MacLean is the author of the bestseller Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.

“There is a hidden agenda in Garcia’s book of a generalized removal of public engagement of public education, as shown in the private statements by Milton Friedman. The fact that Garcia doesn’t even discuss these things strikes me an error by omission.”

Garcia writes that “The core of Friedman’s universal voucher proposal is to improve the delivery of services through choice and competition,” on page 21.

“Vouchers changed the role of government from funding and providing  education to funding and approving educational providers,” Garcia writes on page 22. “In other words, state government would still fund education, but it was no longer the primary entity responsible for providing public education. Rather, this responsibility could be filled by many other institutions, organizations, or enterprises,” Garcia writes.

Gibbs says: “From standpoint of the Koch brothers, they want to make their agenda bipartisan so that whatever party wins, their agenda is still implemented. The effect of the book is to normalize and make sound reasonable the idea of vouchers and charter schools in the Democratic party. It’s not enough that we have the Republicans Party advocating for these things.”

“States also look to other states for new ideas on school choice policies,” Garcia writes on page 172. “For example, given the favorable court rulings on ESAs, states looking to expand school choice policies aggressively are likely to pursue ESA programs over school vouchers. These states will watch how ESA programs play out in leading states such as Arizona.”

 

27 responses to “New Book by David Garcia, Arizona Candidate for Governor, is a Blueprint to Dismantle Public Education

  1. Critics of Larry Bodine’s post about David Garcia’s upcoming book are over the top and hyperventilating. What’s going on here? I haven’t had access to the book, but it strikes me as disingenuous that Garcia would publish this dry and yawn-inducing “education” text on vouchers (that just so happens to layout a blueprint for implementing them) after the primary and just in time to signal the dark money folks where he really stands. Timing is all and these are fraught times. Or have I fallen down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories?

    • betts* putnam-hidalgo

      Anne Shoben this is not the first time I have heard this observation. The book is not self-published. It is part of a series on important issues in public education by MIT. I really REALLY doubt that they publish according to the Arizona election schedule. And if you can find a blueprint for any action in the book, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn that you can buy. A hit piece is a hit piece.

      • betts* putnam-hidalgo, touche. I’ve just read your earlier post and I admit I’m over my head here. You clearly know what you’re talking about, as least as far as the field of education policy goes, but…as I said…these are fraught times. To a lay person like myself, the evidence of dark money influence is pervasive. The Kochs have got their camel’s nose not only under the UA’s tent flap, but into the public school system as well. Then there’s Betsy DeVos, whose billionaire husband is a member of the Koch cabal, who seems intent on gutting the American public school system and privatizing it. The subject of vouchers in this election season is toxic; paranoia is in the air. It shouldn’t be surprising that some of us view with dark suspicion a book that with scholarly objectivity seems to embrace them.

        • betts* putnam-hidalgo

          For what its worth, I too am a member of Kochs Off Campus, so I too am well aware of their influence and the toxicity with which they do their work. I have been out in front on trying to get them out of TUSD, speaking at (and singing at) Board meetings, doing FOIAs, etc. Yes, these are horrendous times. One reason (I believe) that we should be really clear who the real enemies are and who are the people who we disagree with but are otherwise not the enemy. The not-lovely thing about elections here though is that members of one’s own party can be just as vicious as members of opposing parties. We have to do better.

  2. A point of clarification RE Kochs Off Campus! —
    Speaking from my own experience as a member of the group, Kochs Off Campus! is a grass-roots group which is run democratically. Our members exercise leadership and participate in various ways as the need arises. At this point in our development, we have no single leader and do not function in that fashion.

  3. Former BfAZ blogger/educator David Safier’s take on Garcia’s book: https://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2018/08/10/a-review-of-david-garcias-book-school-choice. Safier is now at the Tucson Weekly.

  4. Roberto Reveles

    If this hit piece was intended to soften support for David Garcia or shift it to either of the other candidates, it’s an utter failure. Democratic candidates’ supporters should stick to promoting their own candidates and save their attacks for the real adversaries in the general election. Fellow Democrats, reject these last-minute hit pieces. We’ve got a winning candidate in David Garcia and I’m proud to increase my efforts to ensure victory for a public that desperately needs our Democratic progressive policy goals and our enduring humane and moral values. David Garcia, you’ve got my vote!

    • For another view, read Steve Irvin-ABC15, at https://www.facebook.com/149350038423901/posts/2608144085877805/

      Where exactly does David Garcia stand on school choice?

      It’s a legitimate question in a race that’s all about the future of public schools in Arizona.

      In politics, the answer should be a sound bite. Garcia is a professor, so good luck with that.

      Some Democrats have been fuming about Garcia, because he literally wrote the book on school choice. “School Choice,” by David R Garcia is scheduled for release one month after the primary on MIT press.

      Hello? Optics? You wrote a book called School Choice, the same label given to the system crafted by Republican lawmakers since the 1990s in Arizona… the policy that has given us self-dealing for-profit charter schools, and private school vouchers, and millions of dollars of waste and corruption… and nobody gets to read the book until after the primary?

      Garcia told me, the book isn’t about where he stands. “I’m a professor. This is what I do,” he said. “You will not find my personal opinion in the book.”

      Garcia says the book is an academic treatment on the issue as a whole, not just in Arizona but across the country. Again, optics… giving credence to the Milton Friedman argument which has served as the model for Betsy DeVos and Charles Koch… it doesn’t look good.

      Garcia is definitely against private school vouchers, which he sees as siphoning dollars away from public schools into private hands with no accountability as to how those dollars are spent.

      Arguably, some charter schools do the same thing. But not all do. He points to charters founded by civil rights organizations like Chicanos Por La Causa, which cater to disadvantaged kids in low income areas.

      “There’s a place in the middle here,” he told me.

      But c’mon, there’s some obvious waste of taxpayer dollars too. Isn’t he at least against self-dealing, a practice that’s illegal in district schools?

      Not… necessarily. Garcia says he wants transparency and accountability. “We need to have an understanding of how public dollars are being spent,” he said. I pressed him on this, and he would not say he’s against self-dealing… until and unless we have a full accounting from all charter schools.

      Would he support specific legislation for that? He doesn’t say, reverting to the “we need transparency” talking point.

      Garcia does say charters have contributed to segregation. He believes charters need to follow the law on enrollment practices, and says, as governor he would appoint state board members who align with his philosophy.

      Garcia is also a former charter school board member, a background which caused the American Federation of Teachers to endorse one of his Democratic party opponents, Steve Farley. Garcia is endorsed by the Arizona Education Association, the teachers’ union which joined forces with Arizona Educators United under the #RedForEd umbrella.

      (Garcia, Farley, and Kelly Fryer are all against private school vouchers, and opposed expansion of them.)

      In 2014, Garcia was endorsed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce in his bid to become state superintendent. That same organization is now backing Governor Ducey, and has filed a lawsuit to keep #InvestinEd off the ballot. (In fairness, in 2014, the other choice was Diane Douglas.)

      Garcia’s experience in state government includes working as a senate education analyst, a non-partisan position, and as research director for former state superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan.

      Keegan, a Republican, was a staunch proponent of private school vouchers.
      “Back in the 1950s, Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman first proposed the idea of school vouchers… For those who would ask, ”Why vouchers?” my response is, ”Why not?'” Keegan wrote those words in an Op-Ed in the Arizona Republic in 1999.

      Keegan also championed a bill which would do away with teacher certification requirements, allowing schools to staff the classroom with anyone who had a bachelor’s degree.

      Garcia maintains his position on vouchers hasn’t changed. So how could he work for someone whose policy position was diametrically opposed to his?

      “I follow data,” he told me. “I was never asked. It wasn’t my job.”

      Uh… ok… giving the maximum benefit of the doubt here… maybe it wasn’t. But if he’s always stood against Friedman’s ideas, why would he have any part in an administration which was trying to codify them?

      Many teachers and parents are already backing Garcia, and judging by the GOP’s $7 million attack ad buy to defeat him, he may have a real shot at beating Ducey.

      He’s obviously well-versed on policy. Like his Democratic opponents, he’s rock solid on restoring education funding. But some Democrats take issue with his charter school background and his study-it-first philosophy, and it’s more than a little concerning that he won’t back specific legislation to deal with for-profit charters and self-dealing.

      The crisis in our schools is happening now. Voters want action now. Garcia is a professor, attempting to be a politician. He should be mindful of the optics and expectations if and when he is chosen to lead.

  5. betts* putnam-hidalgo

    Well if the point of a blogpost is to generate buzz, this one certainly does. However it does so in a way that has become very typical of our current political landscape…with innuendos, assumptions and snide partisanship built into so-called news. I was asked by a few people to read the manuscript because of my longstanding interest in ed policy. The article was written before I had a chance to add comments, but I don’t think my comments would have been accepted anyway, given the tone of the article. My comments, like the book, do not make wild claims that can’t be substantiated, and (again, like the book) are actually pretty dull unless you love and follow this stuff as much as I do. They stick to the accurate and don’t utilize a lot of hyperbole (like that this book is a blueprint for…well, anything, actually) While there is a detour or two, they don’t go into wildly unrelated stuff, like the UA’s Johnny Anomaly who the author has not even bothered to find out no longer works for UA OR the Freedom Center, as he was a one year appointment. With that preamble, here are my comments

    To begin with the title of the article is so misleading as to be a complete lie. If you read the quotes in the article, you will find them to be very un remarkable–and thats because if you read the book there is no smoking gun whatsoever. To call this a blueprint is just a complete falsification of a pretty dry and colorless ed policy book that is a description of a seismic shift in public education policy directions. IF you read a lot of education policy books written by education policy wonks, this book does not stand out in the least. School choice is very frequently written about in just this way–a very so-called balanced approach, ostensibly apolitical, and purely descriptive. None of this is to say that I find the book completely blameless to some of the claims made about it. The problem with the books’ approach is that while it states the truth, or A truth, it is wholly incomplete–but it is the opposite of a blueprint for the destruction of public education. Such exercises in so-called objectivity actually excise a great deal of the real issue with vouchers and ESA’s and charters (particularly the privately run version)–which is that the entire movement has indeed been funded by Democrats and Republicans alike with a lot of money who have become disillusioned with public education and especially teachers unions and the power they wield. Helped by right wing organizations like ALEC and others like Democrats for Education reform, the idea has indeed spread like wildfire. In fact, just ask Bill and Melinda Gates, or the owner of Facebook, or Cory Booker how popular the idea of completely “charterizing” a public school system can be and how it can be done. Or read Dianne Ravitch’s chapter about the “Billionaires Boys Club” for further information about who the bipartisan “reformers” (read: privatizers) are. But don’t look for that kind of language or blueprint in THIS book–because the imputed advocacy in this book is far more subtle. The approach places public schools on an even playing field with the charter movement, when we know full well that that playing field is completely tilted–from legislation to funding to oversight–in the direction of the charters. As Garcia refers to in the manuscript, the original idea of charters was far more visionary than what they have become in the hands of these so-called reformers. The current charter movement has nothing to do with its origins, and has become a privatization movement, something Dr. Gibbs rightly refers to in his comments. HOWEVER the tone of the article and its inaccuracies have enveloped a pretty innocuous book in the sick swamp of electoral politics, and therefore the actual analysis of the book as a policy DESCRIPTION (not recommendation, not prescription, not guideline) has lost any validity whatsoever. Tucson, you have absolutely got to do better than this.

    • Sanda Schuldmann

      Thank you for the in-depth and valuable contribution. Thank you for attempting to explain and substantiate that this is a partisan article, trying to insinuate that Garcia is someone that voters shouldn’t trust! It is sad that this comes from this person, whose blogs I normally tend to believe!

    • Michael Bryan

      Thanks, Betts, for a wonderful and thoughtful comment.

  6. Michael Bryan

    I think clearly Mr. Bodine is suggesting that (gasp) a politician may be saying one thing and believe the opposite. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if Larry’s contention holds water, but his allegation is hardly breathtaking.

  7. Sanda Schuldmann

    Jenise it absolutely does, and it is exactly what this is. DIRTY POLITICKING. I do not think that Red for Ed and Invest in Ed would be endorsing a candidate that is against what they fought for and what he supports. It is a pathetic effort to undermine the candidacy of a great guy, who has got the attention of the nation, and who has been declared the only option for Democrats to defeat the corrupt Republican Doug Ducey. He is clearly the front-runner. It is also clearly the choice of the majority of Democrats currently serving in the legislature! I much rather trust the candidate that says we need to raise taxes on the top 1% than the candidate that like Ducey says he can raise the funds for education and NOT RAISE TAXES! I am sorry I contributed to you Mr. Bodyne. I find it sad that you go so underhandedly trying to sabotage the clear choice of AZ Democrats! AT least have the courage to advocate openly for Mr. Farley, your choice, rather than try to pretend to INFORM your readers about negative” hidden, dark side” of the front-runner. Furthermore, this book is not what David Garcia advocates or beliefs are. His policies on education are clearly stated here:
    https://dg4az.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Garcia-Education-v3.pdf

  8. David N Gibbs

    Correction from David Gibbs

    First, in the above article, I state: “There is a hidden agenda in Garcia’s book of a generalized removal of public engagement of public education, as shown in the private statements by Milton Friedman. The fact that Garcia doesn’t even discuss these things strikes me an error by omission.”

    I have overstated here. It should read instead:

    “There appears to be a hidden agenda in Garcia’s book of significantly reduced emphasis on public schools. And he fails to mention the private statement from Milton Friedman about his real educational objectives, which is an error by omission.”

    Second, I use the use the phrase “pro-choice” in quotation marks, suggesting a direct quote from Garcia’s book. The phrase pro-choice should appear without quotation marks.

  9. Too bad this didn’t come out before the ballots were mailed out.

  10. Jenise Porter

    If the author of this piece is s a supporter of another candidate, does that make this article less than acceptable?

    • Sanda Schuldmann

      Of course, it is, it is dirty politics! David Garcia’s plan for education can be found here:
      https://dg4az.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Garcia-Education-v3.pdf
      At no place in the book does he endorse vouchers or

      David Garcia is endorsed by Red for Ed, he did not support Prop. 123, like Farley did! HE bravely says that the top 1% needs to contribute more in taxes, while Farley promises, like Ducey, that he is against raising taxes and still will be able to come up with the money for education. To say that Garcia is for the destruction of public education is simply FALSE! Reviews are nothing but the reviewer’s opinion. In no way does it mean that this is what David Garcia believes in or advocates!

      • Which David are you supposed to believe? The one who wrote that flyer, or the one who wrote this book?

        • Sanda Schuldmann

          READ the BOOK and your sarcasm is pretty sad! I believe David Garcia who will win this primary, and I hope all the Farley supporters will join us in November!~

      • Michael Bryan

        I don’t take a position on whether Larry’s allegations are true, but don’t you think the GOP will say things ten times worse? Garcia had better be able to handle much worse than this if he is the nominee.

  11. Dr. Marvin J. Christensen

    David Garcia has had my support as a candidate for Supt of Public Instruction and Governor…NO LONGER!!! If what is written in this BLOG is accurate, Garcia is a hypocrite , and cannot be trusted to lead our state. If the views cited in this BLOG reflect the real David Garcia, he should be defeated in this primary election! I hope my fellow retired educators share the opinion.

    • Sanda Schuldmann

      It’s not! It is the Farley disguised propaganda smearing machine Dr. Christiensen! Why don’t you read betts* putnam-hidalgo’s post above? He has spent his entire life studying the education system.
      Blog for AZ’s Larry Bodine is a Farley supporter and that’s his right. What it isn’t right is to insinuate untruths!

    • Roberto Reveles

      robertorev@msn.com Dr. Marvin J. Christensen, to use your “if” premise, IF you switch past support for Dr. Garcia on the basis of debunked hyperbolic blogging by a partisan adversary, and IF you don’t at least scan through the pages of Dr. Garcia’s academic history of charter schools, methinks your fellow retired educators who do take the time to analyze both Bodine’s partisan hit piece and Garcia’s academic work will clearly NOT share your unstudied and superficial opinion. Hopefully, Dr. Christensen, you’ll rediscover the enlightenment that springs from academic curiosity and as a good educator you’ll reassess your hasty rush to judgment and once more support Dr. Garcia whose commitment to public education is demonstrably a core value that’s driving his successful campaign for Governor of Arizona.