School Board members across the state are awakening to the realization that the Arizona School Boards Association does not represent their interests. The ASBA offers training to public school districts and lobbies and monitors legislative activity often in conflict with Board members.
Many former supporters say that the extensive training classes for school board members provided by the ASBA all but attempts to neuter them. They point to the retraining of members who might stray from their policies.
One Gilbert Governing board member recently urged fellow Board members to drop the District’s membership, claiming the organization is politically biased and at odds with her positions on key issues according to the Arizona Republic.
Gilbert School Board member, Julie Smith, says the reasons for withdrawing from the private, non-profit organization include her belief that the association has “railed against” things she supports, such as charter schools, school choice, the state Legislature and its Republican majority.
The ASBA has long used taxpayer money to lobby and campaign against measures being considered by Legislature that affects school funding or school reform.
Smith’s reasons for wanting the district to pull its membership are common complaints by other Board members around the state. She cites an incident in which ASBA trainers used her actions to demonstrate that disagreeing with the superintendent is an ASBA “don’t.” Part of the School Boards Association’s training, Smith told the Republic, was “to try to ensure cooperation with the superintendent.” TUSD held three retraining sessions since John Pedicone became Superintendent to create a cooperative attitude.
Smith told the Republic that another example of the group’s “do nots” was that members “shouldn’t read or discuss curriculum with the community … or suggest alternatives (to the curriculum).” This practice is being encouraged by the ASBA and is evident in the Tucson Unified School District’s refusal to allow public input, and limited review of th new Multicultural Curriculum being prepared by critical race theory proponent Dr Augustine Romero.
Smith, a mother of four who has two children enrolled at a Gilbert public school and two others in a charter school, was a vocal opponent of some aspects of the district’s curriculum according to the Republic. Smith also feels the Arizona School Boards Association is partisan and claims trainers criticized the GOP; the group’s website states it’s nonpartisan.