by David Safier
On a campaign flier, Diane Douglas lists "Pro-Life" as one of the five reasons she's qualified to be our next Superintendent of Public Instruction. "Conservative Republican" also makes the list. The general rap on Douglas' run for superintendent is that she's a one issue candidate: Kill Common Core! But she hopes to do more than get rid of the new standards. She wants to make Arizona's schools a playground for the Tea Party. As superintendent, she would be more ideologue than educator.
Douglas is against Common Core Standards, true, but it's not really the standards which cause her the most distress. It's the "Common" part of "Common Core" she truly despises. As a devotee of the 10th Amendment, loved by states righters from segregationists to today's right wing, she wants education to be controlled by the states, without federal government involvement.
Douglas' pre-primary website was aimed squarely at her most ardent supporters, people who shared her Tea Party leanings. Since then, she's replaced it with a vanilla version better suited to the general election. On the original web pages, she wrote, "Common Core is to education what ObamaCare is to healthcare" and called it "Obama’s invasion of our children’s education." Her promise was that as superintendent, she would "Use every power of the office and all my energies to ensure the AZ Dept & our State Board of Education protect and defend our 10th Amendment right to direct and control the education of our children."
According to Douglas, from the first President Bush, to Clinton, to the second Bush, to Obama, the goal has been the same:
Our schools are under the control of the same Washington bureaucrats who have marginalized academic content — stressing culture over content, social engineering over student achievement and conspiring to rewrite the story of American pre-eminence in the world.
To Douglas the Bushes, father and son, were lefty internationalists just like their Democratic successors.
In that context, Douglas' dislike of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, which is used either as an alternative to or in tandem with Advanced Placement courses in schools across the country, should be no surprise. When she was a Peoria School Board member, she opposed renewing the district's IB program.
Douglas said, "I am vehemently opposed to this program. We're relinquishing our control to an international organization."
"IB's goal is to promote world government," Douglas said, adding that it is changing children's values to think globally, telling them what to think, not how to think.
"In my opinion, the IB program has no place in American education," she said.
Douglas' view of what should be taught in our schools is limited to what the far right considers "patriotic" and "moral." Under her leadership, schools would become a battleground where curriculum, textbooks and teachers would be scrutinized to make sure they taught about the world according to the Tea Party.
It's no wonder much of the Republican establishment is actively supporting David Garcia's candidacy. They're terrified of having a right wing ideologue as superintendent who would listen to her friends on the far right, like Russell Pearce — she had a love-in with him in an interview on his radio show — and ignore the wishes of more pragmatic, business-oriented Republicans. Two former Republican superintendents are supporting Garcia. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce gave him its first endorsement for a Democrat since 2006. Former Mesa mayor and recent Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Smith has recently joined the list of Garcia supporters, along with Rich Crandall, the conservative former Arizona state senator who recently served a brief stint as Wyoming's education director.
Here's a real shocker. Robert Robb, reliably conservative columnist for the AZ Republic, wrote recently,
David Garcia is probably the most qualified person ever to run for school superintendent. I first met him when he was keeping the operation going under the energetic but sometimes organizationally challenged Lisa Keegan. He knows what he is talking about, he knows the office's political territory, and his commitment to improving K-12 education is fierce.
Let me repeat: Robert Robb wrote those words. If Robb is touting Garcia's qualifications, that says something about how far concerns about Douglas have reached. After Robb praised Garcia, he gave Douglas a bit of backhanded praise, saying really, she's not as bad as everyone makes her out to be. Using a double-negative construction which is the definition of damning someone with faint praise, he writes,
Douglas' views shouldn't be dismissed as unworthy of consideration.
I don't expect that to show up on any of Douglas' campaign material any time soon.