Republicans simply can’t help themselves when it comes to education.
In 2014, GOP candidate Diane Douglas relied on a fear-inspiring emotional appeal to trounce fellow Republican and incumbent John Huppenthal for the Arizona Superintendent of Schools job. She went on to beat Democrat David Garcia in the general election, earning votes by warning that the “federal” Common Core curriculum would radicalize Arizona public education.
Last week, we witnessed something similar when House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Mesa Republican, called out current Superintendent Kathy Hoffman in a speech to conservatives. Bowers said the superintendent’s efforts to revise the state’s sex education standards are consistent with the Planned Parenthood agenda that promotes promiscuity and ultimately results in more government funding for the organization.
Consistent with the campaign strategy Douglas followed five years ago, Bowers and other Republicans have warned that without the GOP, Arizona parents are in danger of public schools sexualizing their children and more incidents of teachers sexually abusing their students.
Arizona’s failures in education point directly back to Bowers and the State Legislature, not to Hoffman, who happens to be a Democrat. The superintendent has responded appropriately to GOP lawmakers who are joining this fear campaign by calling on Bowers and other Republicans to join her in “. . . finding solutions to the real crises facing education in this state, like our persistent shortage of highly qualified teachers, one of the lowest rates of per-pupil spending in the nation and the physical safety and mental health of our students.”
Arizona voters should have learned their lesson after the election of Douglas in 2014. Shortly after she took office, her failures as a superintendent prompted an immediate recall campaign, sparked a nasty fight with Gov. Doug Ducey and the state Board of Education, and resulted in standardized test scores going down, not improving.
Politics and education simply do not mix.
Nevertheless, GOP leadership has already committed itself to inspiring fear among voters entering the 2020 campaign season. Instead of focusing on issues that need to be solved to improve education in Arizona, Bowers and other Republicans choose to divert the public’s attention with unproven conspiracy theories.
The consequence of that strategy will further degrade education in this state.
Reprinted from Sierra Vista-Herald/Review