Why I am running for Superintendent of Public Instruction
I am a parent
Approximately 20 years ago, I attended a PTSA meeting at my daughter’s school. Little did I know the impact that evening would have on me. One of the reports given by the principal boasted that 70% to 80% percent of all students in grades five through eight had earned a “Certificate of Merit” or higher for the marking period.
My daughter was only in the second grade at the time, and not knowing what a Certificate of Merit was, I turned to the more “seasoned” parent seated next to me and whispered: “What’s a “Certificate of Merit?” She happily explained it was for those students who had all “B’s” or higher on their report cards. The assembled parents were delighted, the principal was so very proud, but I sat there stunned. I couldn’t help but wonder how it was possible for such a staggering percentage of students, across four grade levels, to be performing in the top twenty percentile academically. The accountant in me thought, “Holy cow, they’re cooking the books!”
That event forever changed my outlook on my daughter’s education. I researched what she should be learning at her grade level and compared it to what her school was actually teaching. I gave up relying on her report card grades as an indicator of how she was doing in her classwork, and instead focused on her ability to demonstrate mastery of any particular subject. In addition, I began reading and studying about our education system’s history and transformation. I learned about “OBE” – Outcome Based Education, social promotion, whole language, and the newest iteration of “new” math. As my daughter approached high school graduation, I also found myself at a threshold, and life presented me with a proverbial fork in the road. I could easily transition back into my former profession as a financial analyst or I could serve my community. I chose the latter.
School Board Service
With the blessing of my family, I ran for a seat on our local school board. Elected by the voters in 2004 and again in 2008 to the Peoria Unified School Board (one of the largest districts in the state), I was twice elected by my peers to serve as the board president. The controlling precept for my service was my belief that parents--not the village—have the authority and responsibility to direct the education and upbringing of their children. I am proud that during my time on the Board, student achievement, graduation rates, and financial accountability increased while administrative costs decreased and school tax rates declined by 32%.
A new challenge arose when non-elected members of the State Board of Education unilaterally adopted the federal Common Core program. The more I learned, the more concerned I became about the curriculum and the manner in which “national standards” would be implemented; local control would ultimately be ceeded to the federal government. I began speaking out against Common Core to parents, school board members and state legislators. Unfortunately, Common Core Standards were not widely known or understood at the time, and awareness existed in only the vaguest of terms due to the clandestine implementation of the scheme.
Current picture of education in Arizona
We now clearly understand that a major piece of President Obama’s plan to “fundamentally change” America is federalizing the control of our education system through ObamaED, a.k.a. Common Core.
Over the past 30 years we have “reformed” education time and again – America 2000 (G H Bush); Goals 2000 & School to Work (Clinton); No Child Left Behind (G W Bush) and now Common Core (Obama) – at great expense to the American taxpayers while decimating the quality of our children’s education. I don’t have to tell you that our system remains broken; our children uneducated or under-educated and ill prepared for success in their adult lives.
These systemic problems will only get worse under Common Core. Our schools will formally be under the control of the same Washington bureaucrats who have marginalized academic content – stressing culture over content, social engineering over student achievement and conspiring to rewrite the story of American pre-eminence in the world. Our education system was the envy of the world for over 200 years prior to the involvement of progressive educators and the federal government.
Here in Arizona, we have laws protecting school choice and parental rights. If Common Core remains, we will see the complete erosion of those protections. In 2005, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled in the Fields v. Palmdale case that “parents lose their constitutional rights at the school house door.” Oh really! How many people are aware of this, and how many understand the the broader implications of such a ruling. Private and home schools will ultimately be forced into compliance rendering true school choice irrelevant.
My vision for Arizona:
I will use the power of the office to address graduation rates, teacher certification, simplifying and clarifying education funding and post-secondary remediation rates to name a few. However, the president is correct, Arizona education and America will be fundamentally and irrevocably changed if we don’t stop the federalization of education; local solutions won’t matter.
My goal is and always will be to do everything in my power to ensure that all our children receive a content-rich education. Students should graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to participate in our rapidly changing world and to pursue happiness as they define it for themselves - not as the government assigns it to them. They will be prepared to participate in our system of self-governance as well-educated American citizens.
When elected with your help, I will:
Use every power of that office to ensure the AZ Dept & our State Board of Education protect and defend our 10th Amendment right to direct and control the education of our children.
Testify before legislative committees to restore the constitutional authority for state and local control over our education system.
Work with our Republican legislators to protect our children, and their families, from the unconstitutional invasion of their privacy through massive federally mandated data collection.
I need your help: I need your efforts to collect petition signatures, $5 contributions and seed money! Most of all I solicit and need your vote!
Thank you and God bless!