One would think that a former Superintendent of Public Instruction (and current nominee for that same position) and a person who says he is worried about what goes on in Arizona public schools would find time to visit…public schools.
Not Tom Horne.
Please click on his Twitter account. Since his debate with current Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, do you know how many social posts show him visiting the Arizona public schools he professes to care about?
Kathy Hoffman by contrast has visited Glendale, Taylor, Snowflake, Scottsdale, Mesa, San Luis, Phoenix, Wickenburg, Vail, Benson, and Douglas.
It does not matter where the schools (rural, urban, suburban) are or whether these schools are in blue, red, or purple political-leaning parts of the state. Superintendent Hoffman, now that there is a degree of normalcy following the worst days of the pandemic, is visiting schools and community centers around the state to listen to children, teachers, parents, and administrators and discuss both successful educational programs at their schools and to listen to their concerns about moving forward.
In Snowflake and Taylor, the White Mountain Independent reported that Superintendent Hoffman visited Taylor Elementary and Snowflake High School. There she listened to educational stakeholders talk about their classes and urgent issues like funding, staffing (teachers and maintenance crews,) class sizes, and budget cuts. She also toured several classes specializing in Career Technical Education (CTE.) When asked by a local reporter, what she thought of the career programs at Snowflake High School, Superintendent Hoffman replied:
“I am so impressed by the Snowflake schools, such consistent leadership in the schools. Students are the future, and it’s exciting to see them being able to transition into a career.”
In San Luis, according to a local television news network, Superintendent Hoffman praised the self-exploration courses, funded by a partnership between the Arizona Department of Education and the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, taught at San Luis Middle School. These courses help the children find career goals to pursue. The Superintendent also noted the new buildings on site and technological advances the school has made since her last visit two years ago, saying:
“It’s beautiful to see they have new school buildings, so having a bit more classrooms that can help with classroom sizes. Seeing the new technology, I heard from a student they have laptops they can use.”
When the Superintendent visited Douglas, Arizona, last week, she, as reported by the local Douglas Dispatch, was shown the new facilities at the high school. She spoke with the students and teachers, wanting to learn more about them and their classes. At one of the schools, Ray Borane Middle School, she took questions from the students for about 30 minutes. She also noted that much more work needed to be done by way of renovations and upgrades to some of the existing buildings, saying:
“It’s really frustrating for me to see the lack of commitment from our state for those types of things,” she said. “Back in the recession around the 2008–2010 time frame, Arizona cut more (funding) from public education than any other state in the country. That was when we had this massive drop off, about a third of our whole education budget for the state was cut, which they said was justified because of the recession where they had to cut corners and gutted the funding for public education as a way to balance the state budget. But year after year after year, the state has failed to restore that funding. It’s only in the last couple of years we have begun to move forward in the right direction. We’re still not where we should be as far as those pre-recession levels. We’re seeing a little more out of this last legislative session. We’re also dealing with the aggregate expenditure limit that I know your district leaders are very much advocating of suspending and hopefully repealing the spending cap.”
While the Superintendent is going around the state visiting children, teachers, parents, and administrators to get a gauge of the education temperature around the state, she has also been working to help teachers as evidenced by the third collaboration with Donors Choose to help instructors obtain needed supplies for the classroom.
That is in addition to her continual work to increase the number of counselors in schools (an achievement Politifact just gave a positive review on) and finding new outlets like the partnership with Northern Arizona University to develop strong teacher residency programs.
Again, when one looks at Tom Horne’s Twitter, the closest thing you see to anything educational over the last several weeks is a video of him playing the piano. He is not showing pictures of him visiting schools in the White Mountains or downtown Tucson. There are no posts of local news reports of him meeting with education stakeholders to talk about their achievements and what they want to do and need to improve.
That will not suffice for Arizona’s children.
They need a Superintendent that will go where they are no matter how far.
They need an Educational leader that will be interested in their goals, hopes, dreams, and concerns.
They need an educator that will fight to lift them up and move all public schools forward.
Tom Horne is not that person.
Kathy Hoffman is.
Voters need to remember that on November 8, 2022.