Questions for Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates

Beyond the issues, here are some questions for the four candidates for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.

[editor’s note: All this week on, we are bringing you some questions for the various candidates for statewide office that aren’t necessarily being offered by the candidates themselves nor are they being asked. On Saturday, we started the series off with questions for the several candidates for Arizona’s Congressional District #7; at publication, none of the candidates had responded.]

elex2014questionsOne of the statewide offices up for grabs is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The office is filled by John Huppenthal, whose recent online activities have landed him in a bit of hot water.

Schools in central cities are a big deal. Many parents feel they have to make a decision between living in an urban environment and all of its inherent conveniences or live in the suburbs with good schools for their children. This isn’t a uniquely Phoenix or Arizona thing; this is a nationwide story. If we want Phoenix to have a vibrant, dense, and family-friendly urban core, it will need to have quality public education opportunities.

Here are my questions:

  1. Many parents have to make the choice between living in urban cores with inner-city schools or in the suburbs with high quality schools. Do you (a) agree with their premise and (b) if so, how will you work to achieve parity so these central-city schools are of the same high quality as their suburban counterparts?
  2. In his book Triumph of the City (the book club selection for The Downtown Phoenix Podcast‘s THE URBAN BOOK CLUB…but I digress), the urban economist Dr Edward Glaeser comments: “If America imitated the best aspect of European socialism and invested enough in public schools so that they were all good, then there would be little reason for the rich to leave cities to get better schooling. If America allowed vouchers or charter schools that would foster more competition in urban school districts, then their quality would rise and might even become a draw for prosperous parents.”  In other words, Dr. Glaeser posits that urban schools should be fully funded and completely public (the “socialist left,” as he says) or completely private (“free-market right”). Which solution agrees with your policy proposals and how will you work with the State Legislature, school districts, teachers’ groups, parents, and all stakeholders to realize your proposals?

Here are the candidates running and their website information: