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Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

No one has the job of improving student learning

Arizona Freedom Alliance on April 30, 2014

[AFA Editor:  AFA has long held the position that the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has no authority over the implementation of Common Core.  It's primarily why we believe candidates for this job should run on their qualifications for the job itself.  Electing a governor who is strongly against Common Core and will replace the Board of Education is the best way to get rid of Common Core in Arizona.]

Robert Robb is an opinion columnist.  AFA does not always agree with his position but has always found he makes a reasoned argument based on his research on most every issue he addresses.  Here's his column from 4/30/14:

Let's look at Arizona's system of K-12 education through the perspective of a management consultant.

Arizonans have a shared goal: To substantially increase student learning. So, who is responsible for making that happen? Who should be held accountable if it doesn't?

We elect a state superintendent of public instruction. Surely that's the fellow who's responsible and to be held accountable.

As it turns out, however, the state superintendent has little actual authority over what happens in public schools. He doesn't decide what gets spent where. He doesn't decide what gets taught. He doesn't decide what students should learn or how to measure whether they have learned it.

Instead, the state superintendent acts as sort of a compliance officer, making sure schools are following the rules set by others (emphasis added).  Makes you wonder why the position is elected rather than appointed.

We also elect a county school superintendent. But he has even less to do with the substance of K-12 education than the state superintendent. His main function is to calculate the property tax rate for each school district, based upon what they are entitled to collect locally. There's little reason for this office to even exist, elected or appointed.

State law says that the state Board of Education is the "policy determining body" for K-12 education. Board members are appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the Arizona Senate.

The state superintendent is automatically a member. Some members have to hold designated positions, such as being a university president or a classroom teacher. There are three lay members.

The board decides what students should learn and how to measure whether they have learned it. At least in general terms.

But no one who matters reports to the board or is directly accountable to it. The state superintendent is supposed to be the executive arm of the board. But he is directly elected by the people and not truly subject to the direction of the board except so far as he decides to be. And the board is certainly in no position to hold the state superintendent accountable for his performance.


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