SAFFORD — When it comes to school choice, David Garcia is very clear in his belief: The first choice should be a public school.
“The best bang for the buck is a quality public school,” he said.
Garcia met with a handful of voters at Casa Manana in Safford on Friday. Garcia is running for the Democratic nomination as state superintendent of public instruction in 2014.
“I’m a choice advocate,” Garcia said. “And one of those choices is public schools. It’s what I’ve chosen for my daughters.”
He also said public schools should be the priority when it comes to state funding, noting that Arizona’s empowerment scholarships work around laws that prevent the state from funding private schools.
“Until the state fully funds my choice (public schools or public charter schools), the state should not fund empowerment scholarships,” Garcia said.
Empowerment scholarships direct state funds dedicated for public education directly to parents of disabled children, nondisabled children who received a grade of D or F in a public school the year before, children of active duty military and children in foster care or adoption, and allows the parent to fund the child’s education at any school the parent chooses — public or private.
Garcia also talked about Common Core, the new graduation standard adopted by the state. He said he doesn’t have an issue with national education standards but is concerned about accountability at the national level.
“National accountability is coming. And I think it’s the wrong way to go,” he said.
As to the standards, Garcia said the 21st century will demand that graduating seniors not only have diplomas that show what they know, but something extra that shows what they can do, such as proficiency in multiple languages or a certified technical education certificate.
“We need to get students ready for the blank page. Because there are no multiple choices in real life,” Garcia said.