House Ed Chair Paul Boyer, Rep. Drew John Endorse Tracy Livingston for Superintendent

Phoenix, AZ – Two more members of the Arizona House of Representatives, House Education Committee Chairman Paul Boyer (R-LD20) and Representative Drew John (R-LD14) today announced their support for Tracy Livingston as the  next Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“As Chairman of the House Education Committee, I am responsible for advancing policies that will strengthen every classroom in Arizona,” said Rep. Boyer. “As a teacher, I am responsible for the best interests of my classroom full of kids. Because I have to approach education from both perspectives, I am very encouraged by what I’ve seen and heard from Tracy Livingston. I’m supporting Tracy for Superintendent of Public Instruction because we need someone who understands the impact education policies have on kids, on teachers, and our classrooms. Tracy will fight to end Common Core and will champion giving parent’s choices and control over their kids’ education.”

Echoing the sentiments of his colleague, Rep. John had this to say: “Improving Arizona’s schools will require more than just good policies. We are going to need dedicated teachers who love their kids and what they do. And what better place to put just such a teacher than into the office of State Superintendent. That’s why I’m endorsing Tracy Livingston and why I hope you will support her.”

While 13 states currently elect their Superintendent, none of those elected in recent years appear to have spent the majority – or even a significant portion – of their careers in the classroom. Unlike them, Tracy Livingston has spent her entire career teaching kids and understands the needs of students, parents and teachers alike.

“The non-traditional student of 20 years ago is now the norm,” Mrs. Livingston noted, “and teachers are having to adapt, but school policy and administration isn’t keeping up. Teachers are facing a greater burden today than ever before, yet the enormous run-up in educational spending over these last few decades hasn’t reached the classroom. As a classroom teacher, I know we can do better – and I know what we need to do to make it happen. It’s time for a teacher to lead.”

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Mrs. Livingston is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelors in Broadcasting from the Walter Cronkite School, and a Masters of Education. First elected in 2014, Tracy is a member and former President of the Maricopa Community College Governing Board. Before that, she served two years on the Peoria Unified School Board. Tracy has also served as an elected Republican Precinct Committeeman in Legislative District 22 since 2011.

Tracy and her husband, David, have one son, Kyle, who is an EMT in Prescott, Arizona. David Livingston is a member of the Arizona House of Representatives. The family currently lives in Peoria with their two rescue Siberian Huskies, Katie and Spencer.

Guest Opinion: Arizona Board of Education Rubber Stamps Common Core for 7 More Years

State Board of Education Ignores  Governor, Parents, and own Policy and  Rubber Stamps Common Core for another  7 Years

After a raucous 2014 election year for the office for Superintendent of Public Instruction only 16,034 votes separated the outcome of the 2014 election results between Diane Douglas and David Garcia. One would like to suggest Douglas’ opposition to the top down federal one-sized-fits all standards helped ensure she was the victor. This was a coup for the parents who despised the unconstitutional federal outreach in their children’s classrooms – later only to learn the fox was in the hen house all along.

A quick history lesson on Common Core in Arizona. In 2010, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted Common Core standards for all public schools throughout Arizona. As these standards were being implemented, parents and practitioners alike started to have difficulty learning and teaching them.

This classroom battle came to a head in 2013 inciting a Republican primary challenge to then-Superintendent John Huppenthal who was fully engaged in implementing these standards that had to be rebranded to “college and career ready” due to public outcry.

Like so many top-down government mandates, implementing Common Core became a gravy train for special interests who only care about their profits, not about the outcome of our children’s future. These same corporate entities joined local business chambers to ensure they helped elect pro-Common Core candidates for local and statewide offices.

Meanwhile, grade school children who loved math started to hate math. Other children who loved writing, started to hate writing. Parents knew something was wrong.  In some instances, parents with higher degrees in engineering and math could no longer help their children with basic arithmetic homework.

As with the other 49 states, Arizona retains the authority to approve and modify its academic standards. More importantly, there is no federal law requiring the adoption of specific standards. Yet, 46 states originally adopted common core.

To address this, Governor Doug Ducey directed the State Board of Education (SBE) on March 2015. His direction was for the State Board of Education to “make right the situation…with full transparency.” Direction was given for “teachers and parents to bring [standards] forward together.”

In response, the Arizona SBE created a review process that included 17 members representing different sectors of communities across Arizona. Six of these members were parents from various parts of Arizona. This group was called the Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC), consisting of educational experts and parents. Its task was to recommend updated standards to the SBE per the Governor’s request.

However, for the past year and a half the standards were only being reviewed by “technical professionals” and lobbyists in closed-door meetings. These individuals were largely pro-common core individuals. Multiple requests were submitted to the Arizona Department of Education to include parents or people with opposing viewpoints, but these were turned down each time.

On December 14th, the ASDC was scheduled only 3 hours to review and possibly approve hundreds of standards. Up to this point, the ASDC had no substantive discussion on the standards and very little time to study the latest version of the standards.

After two and a half hours of presentations and public comments, the ASDC had 30 minutes to discuss and feel comfortable recommending hundreds of pages of standards. They were concerned that many issues with common core remained. Further, there was no evidence that hundreds of public comments were received or one standard changed by public comments. Many of the ASDC were concerned.

Thus, the parents requested additional time to discuss the standards and voted 8-7 vote to delay approving any current recommendation of these newly revised standards to the SBE until at least January 2017.

It should be noted that the clear expectation from ADE and the SBE staff was for the ASDC to rubber stamp the draft and not ask too many questions. At the same time, the Executive Director and President of the State Board of Education posted an agenda item on the SBE’s December 19th  agenda for the SBE also to rubber stamp the standards. Most of them had never read these “new” standards in any substantive detail.

On December 19th, the SBE shocked the public and the ASDC by rubber stamping the recommended standards. The request of the Governor to have standards brought forth by teachers and parents were largely ignored. Not one person in opposition appeared to speak in public because they trusted that the SBE would respect the direction of the Governor and the ASDC to do their job and recommend standards to the SBE.

In a shocking irony, the very person—Diane Douglas–who promised to “stop common core”, recommended the ‘revised’ standards; standards virtually identical to the common core state standards foolishly adopted by the SBE in 2010.

It is no wonder why President-elect Donald J. Trump is in line to become our next President. No one trusts the government. If a process is in place it should be adhered and there shouldn’t have a go-around if the vote doesn’t fall in your favor. Our Republic doesn’t exist to be overrun by bureaucratic tyrants.

As members of this subcommittee we waited patiently for the review and public commenting period to end. We welcomed proponents of these standards to our public meetings and only gave them the deepest respect at our meetings even though they didn’t always model the best public decorum they would want their children or students to convey.

We call upon Governor Doug Ducey to request that the SBE reconsider the vote; respect the public; and follow the process established.

We also call upon Governor Ducey to seat people on the SBE that truly respect the parents of our State who are deeply concerned with the direction of public education in our State.

Respectfully Submitted By

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 Bolick; High School Parent

Jennifer Reynolds: Arizona’s Common Core Rebrand is Just Lipstick on a Pig!

by Jennifer Reynolds, publisher of Arizonans Against Common Core.

A Rebrand of Common Core is coming unless we stop it through our combined voices speaking against the proposed 2016 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Standards. Very little has changed with these 2016 Standards and we will still have Common Core!

As suspected the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and State Board of Education (SBE) are trying to “Rebrand Common Core” with their latest 2016 draft of the English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Standards. The ADE Working Groups were tasked to review and incorporate our public comments which have been ignored. Our pleas to take out the “prescriptive examples and developmentally inappropriate standards for ELA and Mathematics” have been brushed aside, and the ADE Working Groups proceeded with the 2nd rewrite with very little changes to the Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards (aka Common Core). If you put lipstick on the Common Core pig, it is still a pig!

Here are the reviews that our combined groups- Arizonans Against Common Core, Opt Out AZ and “Mommy Lobby AZ”- submitted to the SBE K-12 Standards website on October 3 for the draft 2016 ELA and Mathematics Standards. Parents voices were NOT heard, our comments were NOT incorporated, and here we have another “Rebrand of Common Core” if we let this happen just like we saw in 2013 with the renaming of Common Core to “Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.”

WE NEED YOUR VOICES at the Arizona Standards Development Committee Meeting on December 14:

December 14, 9am at the ADE building (1535 W. Jefferson, Phoenix, AZ 85007). If you have commented on the draft 2016 ELA and Math standards AND/OR if you are fed up with what is happening in your child’s classroom with the Common Core standards and testing please show up and let your voices be heard. Nothing will change in Arizona if the 2016 ELA and Mathematics standards are approved by the Arizona Standards Development Committee and the State Board of Education which will happen with a subsequent vote. Common Core will be here to stay if we don’t rise up and stop it!

CAN’T ATTEND THE MEETING? Who to contact about the Rebrand of Common Core?

Governor Ducey initiated the “Arizona Standards Development Committee” to “review and replace the Common Core Standards”(http://education.azgovernor.gov/edu/arizonas-academic-standards) on March 23, 2015 and these are his direct words, “As you know, I am against Common Core and spoke out against it on the campaign trail. That has not changed. Like you, I have high expectations and am for high standards for our students. We cannot excel without them. So, Arizonas standards must reflect the goals, expectations, and input of Arizonas parents and teachers. I encourage every Arizonan to get engaged in this process of creating new standards and assist the State Board of Education in the work ahead. Attend public meetings. Make calls. Write letters. Use social media. Make your voice heard. If like me, you are opposed to the federal governments increased involvement in our K-12 system, this is the quickest, best and most responsible way to fix it. If Arizona is going to be the best place in the nation to educate a child, then Arizonans must lead the way.” (http://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/im-arizona-standards) ”

Contact Governor Ducey’s Senior Education Policy Advisor Dawn Wallace: dwallace@az.gov or 602-542-1316.

Diane Douglas ran on the campaign promise to “Stop Common Core.” Contact Superintendent Douglas and her staff who ran the ADE Working Groups and who are “Rebranding Common Core:” Superintendent Diane Douglas: Diane.Douglas@azed.gov or 602-542-5423

Carol Lippert, Associate Superintendent, High Academic Standards: Carol.Lippert@azed.gov or 602-364-1985.

Jonathan Moore, Deputy Associate Superintendent, K-12 Standards: Jonathan.Moore@azed.gov or 602-364-2810.

Suzi Mast, Director of K-12 Mathematics Standards: Suzi.Mast@azed.gov or 602-364-4030.

Sean Ross, Director of K-12 ELA and Humanities Standards: Sean.Ross@azed.gov or 602-542-6342

Executive Director at the State Board of Education (SBE)- Karol Schmidt: Karol.Schmidt@azsbe.az.gov or 602-542-5057

Let our voices be heard that “WE WILL NOT ACCEPT A REBRAND OF COMMON CORE on our watch!”

For our precious children,

-Jennifer Reynolds
http://arizonansagainstcommoncore.com/

If you are just now waking up to the WAR that has been going on all around you for the last 5 years, READ MORE HERE

Recall Amateurs Fail To Do Their Homework

As we noted in a prior post, the young amateurs heading up the recall effort have no idea what they’re doing.

Yesterday, Max Goshert filed a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office claiming that Michael Bradley, Chief of Staff to Superintendent Diane Douglas, was engaging in political activities on taxpayer time and harassing members of the recall committee.

Recall Chairman Max Goshert alleges that Bradley sent an email to the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators inquiring into Goshert and his involvment with the organization. (At least someone was doing their opposition research.) Goshert was tipped off by someone who obtained a copy of Bradley’s email that was sent on September 1 at 1:58 PM.

Bradley’s email states:

“Does he [Goshert] in fact work for your organization? Are you a nonprofit allowed to participate in recall elections? If not, then why do you have his recall efforts on your site? Do you support removing Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas from office?”

What Goshert and his entourage of recallers failed to realize is that Bradley had taken a sick day on September 1st. This was verified with Department of Education spokesman Charles Tack.

In effect, Michael Bradley was on his own time acting as himself inquiring into Max Goshert’s profile. This was not an act of harassment and the Attorney General’s Office will reach the same conclusion. No harassment, no foul.

Incidentally, Goshert did have a dedicated profile page on the AzABSE website which has since been removed. (Here is a screenshot of the cached paged.)

Again, leaders of this recall effort have demonstrated their incompetence in heading up a statewide political campaign.

Taxpayers will now have to foot the bill for an investigation of a false accusation against Michael Bradley.

This is also an excuse for the anti-Douglas establishment (Democrat Party) to stay away from this effort (in addition to the nude photos of its founder Anthony Espinoza, an elementary school teacher who posted nude photos of himself on his Tumblr account.)

Read Arizona Republic education reporter Cathryn Creno’s article on this fiasco.