by David Safier
A few things before I begin. First, this isn’t an official endorsement from the Weekly. David Garcia is my personal pick for Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction. Second, I’ve supported Garcia since early in his campaign and held a fundraiser for him at my home. However, I’ve taken the time to learn about the positions of his primary opponent Sharon Thomas, watched the public television debate between Garcia and Thomas and heard Thomas speak in person, so I know enough about her to make an informed decision.
I’m confident David Garcia will make an outstanding Superintendent of Public Instruction. His qualifications in terms of educational background, job experience and personality put him well above Sharon Thomas and miles above the Republican candidates.
Garcia is an Associate Professor of education at ASU. That means he’s studied the subject of education in depth; it also means he’s taught teachers. He’ll bring an understanding of education issues to the job Arizona hasn’t seen in decades (It’s been something like 30 years since we’ve had an educator as Superintendent). To those qualifications Garcia adds practical experience working in the Arizona Department of Education as an Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction under two Republican superintendents. He also worked as an education research analyst at the state legislature. Garcia is a Democrat who knows how to work with Republicans and has gained their respect for his expertise even when they don’t agree with him, which will be an invaluable tool when he works on education issues with the legislature.
Garcia’s positions on education are progressive but not doctrinaire. He’s a realist who understands where Arizona schools are right now and wants to move them in a direction he (and I) believe will benefit Arizona’s children. To see his positions on the issues, you can go to the Issues page of his website.
As a college professor, Garcia works with some of the best and brightest students in Arizona, but his personal history also gives him an understanding of the needs of Arizona students who don’t have an easy time in school. A Hispanic from a working class family and a native Arizonan, Garcia went to public school here and was an underachiever in high school. When he finished, he decided to go into the army to get his act together. After he completed his service, he went back to school as a first generation college student and earned his PhD in education policy and research. Right now he has two young children enrolled in public school, so he has an up-close-and-personal relationship with our schools.
Garcia is in the best position of any candidate to move Arizona’s system of education forward. He has earned my strongest endorsement.