Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Every race is important on November 2 because our country and our state are at a crossroads. (All together now, “Duh.”)
But one race that will shape the future of our state is Superintendent of Public Instruction. Democrat Penny Kotterman (who has been a teacher for 18 years) is running against Republican John Huppenthal (who has been a politician in the Arizona Legislature for 18 years). That one statement probably helped my indecisive progressive readers make up their minds, but for the rest of you, I will “write on”.
To put it simply, a vote for Kotterman is a vote for the children of Arizona. A vote for Huppenthal is a vote for right-wing ideology + for-profit schools. (For an issue by issue breakdown on the vast differences between Kotterman and Huppenthal, check out this article on AZCentral.)
My biggest gripe with Huppenthal is that he would not support 84% of the children under his care (shudder) as Superintendent. Huppenthal is all into charter and private schools, but 84% of Arizona’s students attend public schools. Huppenthal also favors white-washing education in Arizona at all levels.
On charter schools, grom Blog for Arizona:
Huppenthal loves to talk about “school choice,” which is a euphemism for backdoor vouchers like private school tuition tax credits as well as straight-up private school vouchers, both of which he supports. If you want to see Hupp get enthusiastic, watch his eyes light up when he talks about private schools and home schooling. His eyes shine when he talks about charter schools as well. Traditional schools? He can take ’em or leave ’em. And if he was given his druthers, he and many other Republicans would leave ’em with minimal funds and minimal support…
Of the 6 accomplishments he lists [on his giant publicity sign], two are about private and home schools, one is about charter schools, one is about deaf and blind kids, and one is about kids with autism. The sixth brags that he helped create the justly maligned English language immersion program for ELL students.
Accomplishments about bringing more funds or better programs to the vast majority of students in traditional public schools? Not a whisper When Hupp was talking to his anti-traditional-public-school base during the primaries, he avoided public schools like the plague.
Beyond the charter school issue, state Republicans like Huppenthal and soon-to-be former Superintendent of Public Instruction (and hopefully unemployed) Tom Horne aren’t satisfied with targeting Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) ethnic studies programs. Huppenthal vowed to target the “ethnic studies” and education departments at the University of Arizona, according to the Capitol Times, Arizona Public Media, and Blog for Arizona.
Well, Johnny, I hate to break this to you, but there isn’t an “ethnic studies” program or department at the UA. There are departments and classes that teach students about diverse groups– Mexican American Studies, Latin American Studies, Africana Studies, East Asian Studies, Native American Studies, Native American Languages, Judaic Studies, Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Women’s Studies. There also has been quite a bit of academic discussion about the state’s assault on “ethnic studies” and low self-esteem among Mexican American students, genocide, HB 2281 itself, and more. (Those elitists!)
Are these the departments you want to white wash? Is this the free speech you want to silence? In a diverse world, isn’t it important for people to learn about each other and talk with each other as equals?
Oh, wait, I forgot. Free speech and open communication across races and cultures won’t work because we might actually find common ground and ruin Republican talking points that demonize “the other.”
If you know a child in public school in Arizona, vote for Penny Kotterman on November 2 because she cares about their future.