As a newcomer to Arizona since June 2014, and with an absorbing job that has been my focus for the last 15 months, I have largely stood back and watched the state’s education politics. For a small (-population) state such as Arizona, it has been an eventful 15 months:
- The (former) incumbent state superintendent was overthrown in the 2014 Republican primary because of racist comments he wrote on the internet.
- The woman who beat the incumbent state superintendent in the primary won the general election in the closest statewide race of 2014, by approximately one percentage point, or 18,000 votes — which I would consider a Florida landslide.
- The new state superintendent has been in regular political battles with the state board of education, including several trips to state court over who has the authority to hire/fire a handful of board employees.
- The state’s testing system switched to a new vendor and coverage, like many other states.
- The legislature and local public school districts have continued a multi-year battle in court over school funding.
- The first-year governor has both appointed a panel to propose a new education funding system for the state and (semi-separately) proposed to tap into a land trust to pump additional funding into K-12 schools on a temporary basis.
- The first-year governor has been opposed in this last proposal by the state’s first-year treasurer, who is from the same party as the governor.
To all the major actors in the state: I am a political junkie who spent almost two decades in Florida, but you really didn’t need to do this just so I would feel at home.