Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

By Loretta Hunnicutt |

From the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to local school board positions, several conservatives are currently leading or have already won key races on the education front in the 2022 General Election.

As of press time, Republican candidate for SPI Tom Horne had increased his lead in his challenge of incumbent Kathy Hoffman. Horne previously served as SPI from 2003 to 2011, prior to successfully running for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. If the results hold up, Horne says his focus as SPI will be on improving student performance and eradicating Critical Race Theory-based curriculum from Arizona’s public schools.

In the Peoria Unified School District race, Heather Rooks won a hard-fought and challenging race. Her efforts to expose the Social Emotional Learning-based policies and practices in the district eventually led her to request an injunction against an activist parent. As reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, Rooks, a mother of four school-aged children, obtained the injunction based on threats from Democrat activist, Josh Gray.

Two other conservative candidates, Amy Carney and Carine Werner, secured seats on the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board. Their victories serve as a powerful repudiation of out-going Governing Board Member Jann-Michael Greenburg. Greenburg was sued by parents who accused him of trying to silence them after they exposed his secret Google Drive dossier on them. As AZ Free News reported in April, that dossier included a trove of political opposition research on parents, who opposed the district’s adoption of Social Emotional Learning and Critical Race Theory.

In the race for Flowing Wells School District Governing Board—an area known for being blue—conservative Brianna Hernandez Hamilton is currently holding on to one of two open spots. A mother of three very young children, Hernandez Hamilton ran with the slogan: “Parents + Teachers = Quality Education.”

Kurt Rohrs, a long-time education activist and frequent contributor to AZ Free News, won a spot on the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. Rohrs, like Horne, focused on improving student performance and eliminating the divisive Critical Race Theory from the district’s curriculum. Many see Rohrs’ presence on the board as an opportunity to restore calm to the district which had become the center of controversy thanks to out-going board member Lindsay Love.

In the race for Dysart Unified School District Governing Board, conservative Dawn Densmore was retained by voters. As current president of the board, Densmore successfully led the fight to end the district’s relationship with the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA). Jennifer Drake also won a seat on the board.

Sandra Christensen is set to win a seat on the Paradise Valley Unified School District Governing Board. Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid are in the lead for spots in Fountain Hills. Paul Carver should take a win in Deer Valley. Jackie Ulmer appears to have been successful in Cave Creek as well as Rachel Walden in Mesa and Chad Thompson in Gilbert. In the Higley Unified School District, conservative Anna Van Hoek also won a seat on the board.

In a tweet from earlier this week, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos summed up what many parents have been feeling over the past few years – left out. In response to the National Education Association’s claim that teachers “know better than anyone” what students need in the classroom, DeVos responded, “You misspelled parents.” 

Arizona Families Need Tom Horne as Our Next State Superintendent

Arizona Families Need Tom Horne as Our Next State Superintendent

By Christine Accurso |

Arizona families need a complete change in our state’s Department of Education. The current superintendent, Kathy Hoffman, has not served Arizona’s children well, and she needs to be replaced. With the election upon us, NOW is the time for change.

For far too long, the Department of Education has placed its focus on teachers. But while the needs of teachers are important, the primary focus should always be on students. That’s why we need someone who will change the focus of the entire department to a service-oriented organization—and who will build a team that wants to serve the people of Arizona. The public servant that we need is Tom Horne!

Tom will not need any training. He successfully led this department before, and he will hit the ground running to get our children back on track immediately. Tom is an attorney and has served in the legislature and as our state attorney general. He supports the new ESA school choice law and wants to see that program serve our children well. Tom has met with many of Arizona’s families and has truly listened to our needs. I have full confidence that he will address them immediately when he is in office.

In contrast, under Kathy Hoffman, our children’s test scores have been plummeting. She pushed for extended school closures during the pandemic. She violated our families by releasing sensitive, private information on our children during the data breach of 2020. She pushed for professional development under gender and sex topics and equity, diversity, and inclusion. She also pushed to repeal the “No Promo Homo” law and started a “Q chat” on the ADE website where any child can be easily groomed or confused when exploring their sexuality online, away from their parents. The last four years have been dreadful for everyone except the unions who back her.

The role of the Superintendent is to execute the state education laws and the State Board of Education policies. The Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) law is administered by the Superintendent, and the State Board of Education writes the policies and rules around this program. It has been in effect for over 10 years. As our current Superintendent, Kathy Hoffman has publicly stated that she wants to see an end to the program and has proven in the last four years that ESA Students who are in the program are not her priority. The fact that she picks winners and losers and plays games with our children’s education proves that she is not a good leader. Every single child matters and deserves an education that they will thrive in.

It’s time to turn our focus back to the children of Arizona. The most important focus is the academic success of our children in the core areas of study. This is a very important race, and I implore all of the people in Arizona, especially parents and grandparents, to support Tom Horne so that our children will be front and center again. Our children deserve the very best, and our families deserve to have a fully functioning Department of Education.

Christine Accurso is a wife, mother, and ESA parent who led the charge for the Decline to Sign Movement. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Majority of Arizona Students Continue to Fail Statewide Testing, Per Latest Report

Majority of Arizona Students Continue to Fail Statewide Testing, Per Latest Report

By Corinne Murdock |

The latest Arizona Department of Education (ADE) report reveals that a majority of Arizona students continue to fail the statewide assessment.

This year, only 41 percent of students passed the English Language Arts (ELA) portion, while 33 percent passed the mathematics section.

The ADE revealed these declining results last Wednesday in a press release. However, ADE presented the results as overall gains, noting that students experienced increases of three percent in English Language Arts (ELA) and two percent in mathematics. 

Yet, last year’s results may not be weighed against these most recent results — the 2021 assessment report disclosed that “a significant number of students” weren’t tested, and therefore those results shouldn’t carry as much weight. Test results from Hoffman’s first year in office, 2019, were only slightly better than those this year: 42 percent of students passed both ELA and math.

It could be argued that those results were part of an upswing in testing that occurred under Hoffman’s predecessor, Diane Douglas. In 2016, 38 percent of students passed ELA and math. In 2017, 39 percent of students passed ELA and 40 percent passed math. In 2018, 41 percent of students passed both ELA and math. 

Additionally, only a few percentage points were gained overall despite the ADE dedicating millions of COVID-19 relief funds to improve test scores.

Superintendent Kathy Hoffman said that she’s petitioning the state to increase funding by lifting the aggregate expenditure limit (AEL) to further improve test scores.

“If we want to continue increasing scores, defunding our public schools will have the opposite impact,” said Hoffman. “The infusion of federal dollars shows that increased funding can increase learning outcomes, not just on test scores but in our student’s abilities to thrive and contribute to our state.”

In an interview with “The Conservative Circus,” Hoffman’s opponent, former superintendent and attorney general Tom Horne, declared that the statewide assessment results constituted an emergency. He noted that student proficiency had fallen far from his 2003 to 2011 tenure, when Arizona students were over 60 percent proficient in math and over 70 percent proficient in English.

“It’s hard to imagine it could be worse,” said Horne. 

Horne claimed that Hoffman was focused on implementing systems that distracted from proper education, citing social-emotional learning (SEL) as one problematic distraction. 

“With social-emotional learning, the teachers are discouraged from imposing discipline because it might hurt some kids’ feelings,” said Horne. 

During the interview, Horne also opined that the ADE links to sexualized LGBTQ+ chat rooms for minors weren’t legal. As AZ Free News reported this week, Hoffman was sued last month for linking to these chat rooms on the ADE website. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.