Scottsdale Parent Chides Columnist, Scottsdale School District

To: Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic Columnist

I read the article you wrote in the AZCentral regarding HB 2002 and wanted to reach out to you to inform you that Mark Finchem’s bill and bills other legislators are working on to protect our children in the K-12 schools are absolutely needed. Activism is permitted in the classroom and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.

I am a parent with a son in the Scottsdale Unified School District who, for the past 15 months, has been providing credible evidence of activist curriculum and teaching instruction that is allowed to continue because of Arizona’s weak education laws and the state’s lax education accountability system.  All levels of district leadership, including Governing Board members, have been provided ample opportunities to remedy these issues, but they simply refuse to compel district leaders to comply. In fact, certain individuals in leadership positions who should be the gatekeepers are the very ones ushering more of the activist curriculum in. District leaders permit teachers to pollute the academic environment by pushing various social, economic, or political adult-themed political narratives with “curriculum” of their choosing. This is beyond inappropriate.  Districts are not in compliance with, nor have they been for years, basic state statutes like A.R.S. 15-721 and statutes that  relate to Arizona’s unique decentralized “local control” structure codified in A.R.S. 15-351.

My sister has been a teacher for 25 years, and clearly there are many teachers who are doing their job well. Those teachers should be singled out, the exceptional ones given bonuses and elevated to leadership positions, while the activist teachers and district leaders should be shown the door. Parents are leaving the public schools in droves, particularly in Scottsdale, and it is precisely because of the low quality curriculum, and lack of leadership and oversight.  

The issues’ I’ve identified sadly extend to the Arizona Department of Education and our state teaching colleges like ASU. I’ve been communicating for months with various legislators, State Board of Education members, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and even Dawn Wallace, Governor Ducey’s Office of Education Director and providing them with specific evidence of issues that need to be investigated and addressed. The State Board of Education is looking into what investigatory powers and oversight authority they have with respect to districts not in compliance with state statutes and situations of activism that go unaddressed at the local level, in addition to issues within the ADE. 

The Superintendent and Governing Board have the duty to ensure that all activities and all personnel are in accordance with the laws of the state of Arizona, the rules of the Arizona Administrative Code, and the adopted policies of the Governing Board, among other critical responsibilities. This is not happening.

The type of curriculum at the Scottsdale Unified School District is night and day different from what my daughter encountered at her charter school just a few miles away. Hers was deep reading with complex themes that dealt with virtue and vice, but pointing children toward uplifting sentiments so that they developed a strong moral compass. The charter school also had a very strong History program (not Social Studies) and read many rich primary source documents that the students discussed via Socratic seminars. My daughter and her classmates were all writing 10 – 15 page papers in their junior and senior years, which is in stark contrast to my son drawing his name in block letters and never writing one proper literary analysis paper in his entire time at SUSD. I was completely comfortable with the curriculum and the professionalism with the teachers and leadership at my daughter’s charter school, while I feel distrustful and extremely disturbed by what I see occurring at the public school my son attends. 

Something is seriously wrong.

I’ve provided a local reporter with the Scottsdale Independent significant documentation and copied her on many, many emails to district leaders and Governing Board members. You can read the article to get a feel for some of the issues, but I have significant documentation to support the allegations. My work experience as a CPA with a fraud and litigation background has trained me to build a documentation trail and that’s what I’ve done. Other parents have formed a separate parent group as state mandated Site Councils that should serve as the parent oversight are not functioning as designed by district leadership. The entire system was so poorly designed from the beginning and is broken. Parents are to have “local control”, but that’s a false narrative. Rather, problems continue to get brushed under the rug by district leaders who don’t want to be held to account.

There are parents across this state who are, in fact, communicating serious issues within our K-12 system, and we’re just now getting legislators to take parents’ concerns seriously. These legislators are being courageous and working to safeguard the children and attempting to reinstate academic scholarship in the classroom. Parents need the State Board of Education members to also work to better understand what parents face at the local school district level, and institute a whistle blower policy, a Parental Bill of Rights framework, and a much stronger accountability system. 

Parents are going to continue to push their legislators and other state agencies to take the issue of K-12 education seriously. The kids deserve better.

I spoke with another investigative reporter this evening who has asked me to provide him evidence of examples of some of the problematic curriculum and other issues within the ADE. If you would like further details, I can be reached at (480) 250-3355. 

~ Kristen Williamson

Representative Mark Finchem Introduces Bill to Create Teacher Code of Ethics Prohibiting Political Advocacy in the Classroom

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Mark Finchem (R-11) has introduced legislation (HB 2002) that requires the State Board of Education, in coordination with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to create a code of ethics for teachers that prohibits political, ideological, or religious advocacy in the classroom. While the practice is already prohibited in Arizona State Statutes, there is no code of conduct or code of ethics.

“HB 2002 is a response to many calls from parents to end political activity in the classroom,” said Representative Finchem. “I respect the important role that teachers play in society, but this is a parental authority matter. If parents want to shape the political views of their children, that is their right. However, it is not the proper role of the state and, by extension, teachers.”

“I have good friends who are teachers and they tell me that although they do not promote political agendas in their classrooms, some of their peers do.A code of ethics prohibiting political activity in the classroom shouldn’t be an issue if that behavior isn’t presently happening. But where it is, it needs to come to an end.”

Kelli Ward: The Lonely Leader of #NeverMartha Republicans

By Calamity June

Ever since Donald J Trump became the Republican Party’s standard bearer, a counter movement known as “#NeverTrump sprung up to stop the freight train of the Trump movement. These “Never Trumpers were not liberal Democrats, however. They were, and are, so-called Republicans, who just can’t stand the fact that President Trump defeated their favored candidate in the Republican primary.

In Arizona, we have a similar phenomenon that is every bit as destructive. “Never Martha” Republicans may well have cost the GOP a critical Senate seat. And thanks to this group of sore losers, we’re stuck with Kyrsten Sinema for six long years.

The #NeverMartha Republicans are led by Kelli Ward, who ran “one of the worst campaigns in recent memory.” For the 2nd political cycle in a row, Ward was overmatched, and soundly defeated in the Republican primary.

But that isn’t necessarily disqualifying. People run and lose all the time. Most candidates who fall short, however, have the decency and the desire to unite the party behind the GOP standard bearer, be it for President, Governor, or in this case, United States Senate.

But Kelli Ward? Not so much.

We had our first clue that Kelli would not be unifying the party when she refused to sign the AZGOP’s Unity Pledge. The vast majority of candidates, including Governor Doug Ducey and Congresswoman Martha McSally, signed the pledge immediately, signaling that they would be 100% supportive of the Republican nominee. But not Kelli Ward. Not only did she refuse to pledge her support for the GOP nominee, she engaged in a physical altercation with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his staff, as she attempted to strong arm him from the race.

It got even worse after Ward’s terrible primary showing against Martha McSally. After garnering just 28% of the vote in the primary, Ward again refused to endorse McSally. While she eventually sent out a mealy-mouthed “endorsement” of the Republican ticket, her actions made clear her disdain for party unity and her commitment to the #NeverMartha agenda. Despite the primary election being over, her campaign continued to sponsor an attack website on Congresswoman McSally, calling her “Martha McFake,” refusing to take it down until she was called out on social media last week. So for the final weeks of the campaign, as undecided voters looked for information about both candidates, there was a good chance they’d stumble upon an attack website, sponsored by none other than Kelli Ward.

Lest there be any question that Ward was working against Martha McSally, look at her actions just prior to early voting. In a September 26 facebook post, she directed her supporters to vote for the slate below. Nearly every Republican nominee is listed, except one: Martha McSally. Incredibly, Kelli Ward promoted a slate of candidates that excluded the Republican nominee for US Senate, who happened to be running against an avowed socialist with a history of disparaging Arizona.

As we all now know, the GOP lost the US Senate race by less than 2%. It begs the question: how many votes did Kelli Ward and her #NeverMartha minions cost our candidate…and why should anyone trust her to be a unifying voice when her entire history is one of division, backstabbing and negative attacks on fellow Republicans?

They shouldn’t. And they won’t.

Fair Arizona Independent Redistricting Citizen Committee Launched; Announces Former State Rep. Jill Norgaard As Chairman

Phoenix, Arizona – Fair Arizona Independent Redistricting (FAIR) is pleased to announce its formation and launch as a citizen committee dedicated to ensuring a fair, balanced and unbiased redistricting that accurately reflects the culture and values of the hardworking Arizonans who call our state home. In the coming months, FAIR will be meeting with community leaders, citizen workgroups, industry and faith community stakeholders, and subject matter experts. The 2021 redistricting will shape the next generation in Arizona’s future and FAIR is committed to seeing it done right.

“The 2020 census and 2021 independent redistricting are nearly upon us and it is imperative that those processes reflect Arizona’s unique and diverse citizenry in a fair and balanced manner, free from the influence of out of state power brokers and activists,” said FAIR Chairman Jill Norgaard. “The 2021 redistricting will shape the next generation in Arizona’s social, political and industrial future and the Fair Arizona Independent Redistricting citizens committee is dedicated to ensuring it is done with integrity.”

Arizona, like many states, must redraw its congressional and legislative districts every ten years to reflect changes in its population. Redistricting will take place in 2021 following the completion of the upcoming United States Census. Historically, the Arizona Legislature has controlled the redistricting process; however, in 2000 Proposition 106 was passed that delegated this power to a bipartisan independent commission. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is comprised of two Democrats, two Republicans, and one independent chair.

Fair Arizona Independent Redistricting (FAIR) is an independent citizen committee dedicated to ensuring a fair, balanced and unbiased redistricting that accurately reflects the culture and values of the hardworking Arizonans who call our state home. 

Two-Time Loser Seeks to Make it 3 for 3

By Calamity June

On Monday, as Arizonans returned to work from the Thanksgiving holiday, many must have thought that they were experiencing a tryptophan-induced flashback, as for the 3rd time in 3 election cycles, Kelli Ward announced that she was once again running for office.

Yes, the same Kelli Ward who was badly embarrassed by octogenarian John McCain in 2016. And the same Kelli Ward who failed to attract 30% of the vote in her bumbling and incompetent 2018 campaign against Sheriff Joe and Martha McSally. And yes, the same Kelli Ward who has shown herself to be nothing more than a pathetic, self-promoting politician who couldn’t campaign herself out of a wet paper bag.

And now Kelli Ward wants to lead the Arizona Republican Party?

Let’s review the role of the AZGOP chairman. First and foremost, the chairman must be a leader who brings together all factions of the Arizona GOP. Kelli Ward has never even garnered 40% of the Republican vote in Arizona, let alone anywhere near a majority. And her failed campaigns have been studies in division, personal insults and attacks on any Republican who doesn’t support her. In 2018, she refused to sign an AZGOP unity pledge, and famously would not even endorse our Republican nominee until over a month after the primary. In a race decided by less than 2%, how many votes did her immature pouting and dithering cost Martha McSally?

Next, the party chairman must be able to raise money, and lots of it. In the most recent campaign cycle, the party raised and spent over $10 million in support of Republican candidates. This is accomplished by reaching out to local, state and national leaders, garnering confidence from the donor community, and putting together a plan of action that donors can invest in. In contrast, Ward barely raised enough money in both of her failed campaigns to cover her overhead, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on out of state consultants and seeing her entire campaign team quit in protest. Her disastrous stewardship left her campaign in tatters, with over $100,000 in debt. It’s hard to see many donors investing in that sort of chaos.

Finally, the party chairman should be a winner. That certainly doesn’t describe Kelli Ward. She was such a a weak statewide candidate that a George Soros-funded SuperPAC actually tried to help her become the GOP nominee last summer. She squandered her opportunity to unify the GOP after Senator Flake announced that he wouldn’t be running for re-election, and despite being the only announcned candidate for montnh, failed to bring the party together. There’s a reason that the Arizona House Democrats reacted with glee to today’s announcement. After two failed statewide races, it’s hard to imagine anyone thinking of Kelli Ward as a winner.

Sadly, the one talent Kelli Ward seems to possess is not really in the AZGOP job description.

To those who have a hard time turning away from a train wreck, the next two months should be riveting.

Kelli Ward or someone from her campaign is welcome to provide a guest opinion of their own for posting on Sonoran Alliance.

The Ugly Truth About Proposition 126

Proposition 126 is not a tax cut. It is not pro-business. It is not good for Arizona.

Arizonans will have the choice Nov. 6 on whether to pass Prop 126, a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to permanently exempt the service industry from sales taxes. What may sound like a generous proposal to cut taxes is, in reality, an unfair handout to privilege some businesses over others.

  • Prop 126 benefits the service industry while narrowing the tax base, making it more likely that, when push comes to shove, marginal income-tax rates will be raised on everyday Arizonans. Indeed, if the state ever needed to raise revenue, it would be cut off from a significant sector of the economy, forcing it to turn to raising much higher taxes on everyone else.

After all, Prop 126 is not a tax cut. It is a roadblock to keeping tax rates low across the board. It would hamstring our state’s lawmakers, making it much more difficult for them to craft flexible, uniform and fair tax policy.

  • What’s more, Prop 126 is not “pro-business” — it is pro-some businesses, and not others. There are several other ways Arizona could make it easier for businesses to thrive. Doling out special benefits to some while sticking others with the bill is unfair. It’s also bad policy.

While Prop 126 would affect all 7 million-plus Arizonans, it would help only some. During a time when our state’s economy is dynamic and rapidly growing, we need a tax policy flexible enough to keep our taxes low and treat Arizonans fairly.

We won’t get that with Prop 126. On Nov. 6, Arizonans should send this amendment packing.

Latest Poll Shows Martha McSally Narrowly Leads in US Senate Race

Democratic Surge in Early Ballots has Tightened the Race

PHOENIX (Nov. 5, 2018) – The latest poll from OH Predictive Insights and ABC15 Arizona (ABC15/OHPI) shows that Martha McSally, Arizona’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, has a one-point lead over Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, with 49 percent of the vote. Green candidate Angela Green receives zero percent of the vote, down from one percent since our last poll. Since dropping out, Green no longer has the Election Day Independent voters, who we saw her take more of in a previous OHPI poll(8%).


The survey was conducted November 2 to November 3, 2018 with a sample of 631 respondents qualified as likely voters. All live-callers were used to collect the sample, yielding a +/-3.9% MOE.

“Arizona is seeing a historic midterm election turnout and Democratic voters are defying past historic early voting trends,” said Mike Noble, Chief Pollster and Managing Partner of Phoenix-based research company OH Predictive Insights. “The race has tightened and it’s fitting that the winner will be decided based on who can best turn out out their voters on Election Day.”

Since our last poll, conducted on October 22, the largest change has been the late return of a surge of Democratic ballots in Pima County. This is done by a bloc of Democratic voters who we were unsure would turn out in the general election: Steve Farley Democrats. This group is considered new primary voters who voted for Farley and not David Garcia in the Arizona primary election: OHPI analyzed them in September.

Farley Democrats started returning their ballots en masse within the last two days of early voting, especially standing out in Pima County with a ten-point Democratic advantage of 43 percent. In Maricopa County, the largest county in the state with 60 percent of the electorate, Republicans also have a ten-point lead with 43 percent. This indicates a lagging Hispanic turnout with engaged white Democrats, which is a trend OHPI was looking for and did not see materialize until recently.

The key comes down to Sinema’s voters being more energized, while Republicans need to turn out their voters on Election Day. OHPI found that 88 percent of Sinema’s voters have already turned in their ballots, while only 70 percent of McSally’s voters have done the same. This is ultimately a breakdown by region, where 86 percent of Pima County’s voters have already voted. Only 74 percent of those in the rural areas have done so, with more being Democrats.

A Republican turnout operation will be crucial to combat Democratic excitement. While many more of the votes for Sinema are already cast and guaranteed, McSally needs to pin her votes down and solidify them.

Methodology: This all live-caller survey was conducted via 50% cell and 50% landline poll. The poll was completed by OH Predictive Insights on November 2, 2018 and November 3, 2018, from a likely 2018 General Election voter sample. The sample demographics accurately reflected party affiliation, gender, region, and age. The sample size was 631 completed surveys, with a MoE of ± 3.9%. Numbers may not total 100%, due to rounding. Poll report for the General Election poll can be viewed here.

OHPI / ABC 15 Releases Latest Poll on Arizona Statewide Races

OHPI/ABC 15 has released its latest polling data on Arizona statewide races and it appears that Republicans are leading. The one race that is closest is the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction race where Frank Riggs is slightly ahead of Kathy Hoffman.

According to Chief Pollster and Managing Partner, Mike Noble, “The superintendent race is the one to watch. Kathy Hoffman and Frank Riggs are neck and neck, with 12 percent of voters still undecided. It’s anyone’s ball game.”

Here are the numbers:

Steve Gaynor leads Secretary of State race.

Gaynor has only nailed down 63% of Lean Conservative voters, with another 12% leaning
his way. 16% of them remain undecided, the largest of any ideological group.

Kimberly Yee leads Arizona Treasurer race.

With undecided voters beginning to make up their minds, it seems they are leaning towards Yee. She has gained 5 points to Mark Manoil’s 1 point, since our last poll.

Mark Brnovich leads Attorney General race.

January Contreras has gained a large amount of male support, with an 8-point increase since our last poll. Even with this loss, Brnovich still holds a 14-point lead.

Frank Riggs narrowly leads Superintendent of Public Instruction race.

This is the closest race, with Riggs holding a 4-point lead and 12% of voters still undecided. Among those who believe education is a top priority, Hoffman leads by 60 points.

Doug Ducey leads Arizona Governor race.

Since our last poll, Ducey has maintained his nearly 2 to 1 lead, gaining 3 points. David Garcia has gained 2 points.

Methodology: This 42% cell phone and 58% landline poll was completed by OH Predictive Insights on October 22, 2018 and October 23, 2018, from a likely 2018 General Election voter sample. The sample demographics accurately reflected party affiliation, gender, region, and age. The sample size was 600 completed surveys, with a MoE of ± 4%. Numbers may not total 100%, due to rounding. Poll report for the General Election poll can be viewed here.

About OH Predictive Insights

Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights provides accurate polling, focus groups, data analytics and advanced targeted marketing to political and non-political clients alike. With leading professionals in the advertising, communication, polling and political arenas, OH Predictive Insights will service political and non-political clients looking to improve their footing on key stakeholders and consumers.

Torkelson: Voters asked to retain Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick

On his first day at the Arizona Supreme Court, Justice Clint Bolick posted a sign in his office. It had two simple rules he expected staff to follow.

Rule One: Call me Clint; Rule Two: There are no other rules.  Although the first rule was never followed, I can think of no better example of the humility with which Justice Bolick has approached his job as the 44th justice of the Arizona Supreme Court—always taking his work, but never himself, seriously.

I had the honor and privilege of serving as Justice Bolick’s law clerk for almost two years. From the moment he took the bench, he demonstrated a passion to execute his civic duty and fiercely protect both the federal and state constitutions. He did this every day with a smile, a venti Starbucks hot chocolate, and respect for his colleagues and attorneys who argued before him.

Of the attorneys who argued before him, those surveyed gave him a 100 percent score on legal ability, integrity, and administrative performance.  The high marks extended to those that worked behind the scenes, as well.  Court staff joked he needed a Supreme Court greeter vest because he always stopped to say hello to everyone.

In November, voters will be faced with a survey of their own.  On the back of the ballot Arizonans will determine whether to retain Justice Bolick on the high court.  This vote is based upon whether he has the judicial temperament, ability, and skill to remain on the bench.  I know Justice Bolick exhibits these characteristics because I saw it every day without waiver.

Since his time on the court, Justice Bolick has written 32 opinions. Of the 15 times he wrote for the majority, 14 of them were unanimous opinions. This amounts to hundreds, if not thousands, of pages where Justice Bolick outlines exactly how he came to his decision.  Importantly, in not one of those decisions will you find “the party’s identity” a deciding factor.

And there is no reason you would.  Justice Bolick is the only Independent to ever serve on the Arizona Supreme Court.  Indeed, independence is the cornerstone of his jurisprudence. The only common denominator throughout his writings is the plain language of the law.  What it says is what it means.  If you don’t like what it says, look to the Legislature.

Some say true bravery comes in dissent.  Justice Bolick has never shied from writing in opposition.  In fact, he began his first dissent praising our freedom-loving state, while noting the very words on the Supreme Court building, “Where law ends, tyranny begins,” informing readers of a “draconian” Arizona law affecting a homeless man.

Beyond judicial temperament, ability, and skill, Justice Bolick also has an unparalleled dedication to our great state.  I remember two times where Justice Bolick was overcome with excitement. The first was when the Pokémon Go craze was at its height and some of the clerks found a Pokémon on his desk.  The second was when he found out he would once again be teaching, this time Constitutional Law at ASU.  Teaching, in any form, has always been a source of pride for Justice Bolick.  It is why he insists on hiring an intern to work alongside his clerks every semester in chambers. There are countless mentees, just like me, who are forever grateful to learn from him.

Before November, I hope you read his opinions (azjustice44.com) and watch the oral arguments (azcourts.gov). There you will see a justice whose impartiality and independence allows him to look beyond party and political favor to address each case anew.  When you reach the back of your ballot consider what Arizona needs in the black robe.  Then, grab a hot chocolate and join me in voting to retain Justice Bolick.

Ashley Torkelson is currently an attorney serving in the United States Air Force. The views expressed are those of Ms. Torkelson only and not those of the United States Air Force or Department of Defense.

Clean Election System Abuse Continues as Candidates Funnel More Taxpayer Money to the Democrat Party

By Free Enterprise Club

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission claims they care about keeping special interests out of the political process by providing candidates with taxpayer funds to run for office.

But as was discovered in 2016 election cycle, politicians and political operatives know how to cheat the system and the unaccountable Clean Elections Commission just doesn’t seem to care.

An examination of campaign finance reports filed by publicly funded Clean Election Candidates in 2018 show over $100,000 being funneled to the state, county and local political parties, as well as to other political operations such as the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (ADLCC).

As was the case in prior elections, the democratic candidates running in the least competitive legislative districts are the biggest contributors to these electioneering efforts.

One of the worst offenders is candidate Lynsey Robinson from conservative legislative district 12 in the East Valley.  She gave a staggering $22,590 to the Democratic Party Operations, which is over 50 percent of the total amount she receives from Clean Elections!  If her intention was to win her race, sending over half her money to the Party seems like a poor strategy to do so.

Other giveaways to political groups include:

$21,442 from Jo Craycraft, candidate for Senate in LD 1
$18,980 from Hazel Chandler, candidate for House in LD 20
$18,500 from Chris Gilfillan, candidate for House in LD 20
$14,170 from Mark Manoil, candidate for State Treasurer
$12,400 from Kiana Sears, candidate for the Corporation Commission
$9,520 from Kathy Hoffman, candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Interestingly enough, the largest benefactor of these public funds was the ADLCC, a Political Action Committee chaired by legislative democrats to elect democrats around the state of Arizona.  Traditionally, victory PACs such as this provide money and support tocandidates—they don’t receive money from them. This is because committees such as this fundraise for the express purpose of playing in election races.  However, they do so independently of any candidate because it is against the law for organizations and PACs to coordinate with candidates on their election activities.

That makes the expenditure to the ADLCC even more suspicious.  Either a candidate is giving them money to use in other more competitive races (which is wrong and must be stopped), or they are giving them money to provide services to their campaign (which is likely illegal.)  Either way, the ADLCC’s taxpayer gravy train is an offensive abuse of the system and should be stopped immediately.

The unaccountable Clean Elections Commission has made it clear that they don’t care how our money is wasted, which is why voters must vote YES on Proposition 306.  Prop 306 would prohibit candidates from funneling taxpayer funds to political parties and political special interest groups.   If there was any question that the exploitation of the system would continue and proliferate – this year’s election season proves otherwise.

Voters should put an end to it by Voting Yes on Prop 306.