State Board of Education Ignores Governor, Parents And Own Policy

Governor Ducey addresses the Arizona State Board of Education on March 23, 2015 [Photo from governor's office]

Preempting the Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC) that was about to conclude 18 months of work, on December 19 the State Board of Education (SBE) voted to impose Common Core standards on all Arizona schools—likely at a tremendous cost to the state’s recent education gains!

In 2010, the SBE adopted “Common Core” for Arizona schools.  Parents and teachers soon started having difficulty learning and teaching them.

Like many government mandates, Common Core benefited those who place profits above our children’s future.  Children who loved math started to hate math. Children who loved writing started to hate writing.  Parents recognized a problem.  Sometimes, parents with engineering and math degrees couldn’t help their children with basic arithmetic.

In March 2015, Governor Doug Ducey directed the SBE to “make right the situation…with full transparency,” and allow “teachers and parents to bring [standards] forward together.”

The SBE formed a 17-member committee (ASDC) representing parents, teachers, school administrators, and the business community from across Arizona, and tasked it with reviewing existing standards, developing better standards, and then making a recommendation to SBE.

The standards were reviewed primarily by “technical professionals” and largely pro-Common Core advocates.   Public input was sought, but it’s unclear how the opinions of parents and others with opposing viewpoints were considered.

On December 14, the SBE scheduled only three hours for ASDC to consider approval of the final draft math and ELA standards for K-12.  The ASDC previously had no opportunity to discuss the latest standards as a group.

After two-and-one-half hours of SBE presentations and public comments, only 30 minutes remained for ASDC to discuss and responsibly consider recommending hundreds of pages of standards. Serious concerns remained and it was uncertain whether all public comments were incorporated.  Several ASDC members requested additional time to “get it right.”  ASDC voted to delay further consideration and possible recommendation to SBE until a January 2017 meeting.

It appeared that ADE and SBE staff expected ASDC to “rubber stamp” the draft without delay.  SBE’s December 19 meeting agenda already included an item for approval of the standards, although ASDC had made no recommendation.

Shockingly, on December 19, SBE approved the standards, violating its own public policy which was to await the ASDC recommendation. The spirit of Governor Ducey’s request was not honored.  The public trusted the SBE to respect the governor’s direction and allow a recommendation from ASDC after careful, thorough review and consideration of the standards.

Ironically, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, who promised in 2014 to “stop Common Core,” voted in favor of these ‘revised’ standards, which are in large part the same Common Core standards SBE adopted in 2010.

As members of ASDC, we patiently listened to all sides, and objectively considered and respected all opinions.  However, SBE prevented us from responsibly completing the task prescribed by SBE’s own policy and by Governor Ducey.  We were not allowed the time to adequately read and study the standards before we voted.

We respectfully ask Governor Doug Ducey to: 1] request that SBE rescind its improper vote, respect the public, and follow its own established policies; 2] appoint people to SBE who truly respect Arizona parents who are deeply concerned about public education in Arizona.

Respectfully Submitted by the following members of the State Board of Education’s Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC):

Scott Leska; Public School District Elected Board Member

Grant Peterson; Middle School Parent

Dr. Richard Rutkowski; Business Community Member

Olga Tarro; Elementary School Parent

Maureen Tozzi; Business Community Member

Shawnna L.M. Bolick; High School Parent

About Letter to the Editor 355 Articles
Under the leadership of Editor in Chief Huey Freeman, the Editorial Board of the Arizona Daily Independent offers readers an opportunity to comment on current events and the pressing issues of the day. Occasionally, the Board weighs-in on issues of concern for the residents of Arizona and the US.