Q&A: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidates on Arizona Schools’ Challenges

At a controversial time in Arizona education, two candidates vie to replace the current superintendent, Diane Douglas, who lost the Republican primary [voting deadlines & details]. In&Out Publications asked each candidate to briefly answer these questions:


hoffmanKathy Hoffman (Democrat)

What’s the biggest challenge faced by Arizona schools, and how would you face it?
Due to our teacher shortage, large class sizes and under-qualified teachers shortchange our children’s future. Only through adequate funding can we find innovative ways to address the teacher shortage.

Are charter schools, as currently operated in Arizona, a good or bad idea?
This is a complex issue because there are many types of charter schools. Arizona needs to re-examine charter school policies to ensure that all children receive a high-quality education.

Are state-funded vouchers for private-school payments a good or bad idea?
I do not support expanding the ESA (voucher) program as it would it further defund our public education system and remove those students with disabilities from their top-priority selection.

Are Arizona teachers and support staff being paid enough?
Overall, there are far too many teachers, as well as support staff, who don’t make enough to care for the needs of their families. This must change.

Do Arizona schools have enough funding for supplies and capital expenditures?
Arizona made more cuts to education funding than any other state, which directly impacts the purchasing power of schools. The cost of funding classrooms has shifted to teachers and families.


riggsFrank Riggs (Republican)

What’s the biggest challenge faced by Arizona schools, and how would you face it?
The acute teacher shortage. We must ensure K-12 funding keeps pace with student enrollment growth and inflation, and pay educators competitively with neighboring states in the Southwest and Mountain West.

Are charter schools, as currently operated in Arizona, a good or bad idea?
A good idea, because they serve 188,000 K-12 students, but we need stronger governance of charter schools and more transparency and accountability for how charter schools spend taxpayer funding.

Are state-funded vouchers for private-school payments a good or bad idea?
A good idea for serving special segments of students (special needs, foster children, military dependents, low-income) but no replacement for public district schools, the backbone of our K-12 education system.

Are Arizona teachers and support staff being paid enough?
No, as evidenced by the well-documented teacher shortage and high attrition rate. We must be more competitive with neighboring states if we want to recruit and retain the best teachers.

Do Arizona schools have enough funding for supplies and capital expenditures?
No. We need a reliable, dedicated funding source for the soft and hard capital needs (supplies, equipment and facilities) of both school districts and charter schools.


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North Phoenix News staff writers and editors often work together to produce articles like this one.

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North Phoenix News staff writers and editors often work together to produce articles like this one.

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