Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Arizona's New Government

They were all sworn in today - the new governor and secretary of state and treasurer and superintendent of schools.  I probably should have capitalized all those positions, but I am going to have the officials earn those big letters before I award them here in The Burrow.  It's a small statement, but one I can get my heart around.

In this state, that's a big deal.

The outgoing Superintendent of Schools, John Huppenthal, took a small man's revenge on a big city's school district.  Friday, his last work day in office, Huppenthal filed papers alleging that the Tucson Unified School District was not in compliance with the court's ruling on their ethnic studies program's revisions.  Never mind that his attack on the MAPS program was a small minded attempt to keep culturally relevant instruction out of the classroom; the courts ordered a change and TUSD complied.... or thought it had complied until rumblings from Huppenthal's office last week led to an exchange of letters and the court filing on Friday.

It's not his job anymore, yet he's left a mess for his successor.  She, a former school board member with a contentious local history, cites motherhood has her most important job.  I won't argue the point, but her opponent in the election, a professor, a PhD, a published thinker on education, had real plans for our students.  Ms. Douglas wants to take Washington out of our local schools by dismantling the Common Core standards adopted last year. She's not interested in increasing funding or in delivering the dollars assigned by the voters but diverted by the Legislature over the past few years. 

She has a lot to do to earn her capital letters.

Doug Ducey, our new governor, ran Cold Stone Creamery before he ventured into state government.  He touted himself as a business man, but the statistics for his franchisees make him more of a pyramid schemer than a builder of new wealth.  He promises to balance the budget and improve life for Arizonans and bring new business to our floundering state, but with an education system on the brink of disaster, I'm not sure what carrots he'll dange at the end of his stick to encourage employers to move valuable job opportunities our way.  He's pledged to leave the tax structure alone; where will all that new money come from? 

He, too, will have to work for those big letters.

Secretary of State is the position Jan Brewer held before she was bumped up into the Governor's chair after Janet Napolitano left for DC.  I vowed that I would never ignore the bottom of the ticket again after she ascended to the governorship and took our state in a redder direction.  I voted for the opponent; like all the major races this year, my candidate lost.  I'm holding my breath than this office, which oversees such things as the amount of dark money which can be spent in a campaign, will show more transparency than it has in the past. 

I hope I don't turn blue before Michelle Reagan earns her capital letters.

Through all of this I hold my little piece of paradise close to my heart.  Legislative District 9 is sending Victoria Steele and Randy Friese to Phoenix.  They are pro-choice, pro-gay rights, supporters of sensible gun control legislation ..... and they listen.  In an ever increasing cacophony of competing rhetoric, very little of which is based on fact or reason, listening may be the skill most valuable of all.

They have already earned their capital letters.  Here's hoping that my State Representatives can encourage their colleagues to collaborate and create a more promising future.

Go ahead, laugh at me.  I refuse to give up hope. 

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