Accountability Arizona Betsy DeVos History Science

Arizona: Outgoing State Chief Wants to Adopt Far-Right Christian Standards to Replace State Standards

Interesting essay samples and examples on:

Hillsdale is one of the most conservative colleges in the United States. It is one of the very few in the nation that refuses to accept any federal funding, not even for student aid. Betsy DeVos’s brother Erik Prince went to Hillsdale College.

Diane Douglas, the far-right extremist who is currently state superintendent of schools in Arizona, wants to replace the state’s academic standards with a set of standards developed by Hillsdale College.

Douglas came in third in a five-way Republican primary for state superintendent just weeks ago. The winner of the Republican primary was Frank Riggs, who was a Congressman in California and a major supporter of charter schools. The Democratic nominee is Kathy Hoffman, a teacher in Arizona. She is a speech therapist, age 32, who has worked in Arizona public schools for five years. If Riggs is elected, Arizona can expect more charter schools with no accountability or transparency. If Hoffman is elected, it will be a new day for education in Arizona.

This is Diane Douglas’s last effort to inject her Christian worldview into the curriculum in Arizona:

Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas wants to replace Arizona’s academic standards with a set linked to a conservative college in Michigan with connections to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Douglas is on her way out of office in January. She lost her bid for re-election in the Republican primary to Frank Riggs.

At Monday’s State Board of Education meeting, Douglas is scheduled to present a draft of standards developed by Hillsdale College’s charter school initiative. Hillsdale is a private, Christian college.

Standards are set by the state Board of Education, typically with input from local parents and educators, and guide what public district and charter school students are expected to learn at each grade level.

“(Douglas) believes they’re more robust than the ones that have been developed locally,” Michael Bradley, Douglas’ chief of staff, said.

Connections to Trump, Devos

The Hillsdale set, referred to as the “Barney Charter School Initiative’s Scope and Sequence,” would replace all Arizona academic standards. No other state appears to adhere to the Hillsdale standards. The Barney Charter School Initiative is a project out of Hillsdale that advances the founding of charter schools.

Hillsdale President Larry Arnn is a supporter of President Donald Trump, according to Politico. In 2013, Arnn drew criticism after, in comments to Michigan lawmakers, he said state officials visited Hillsdale’s campus to determine whether enough “dark ones” were enrolled.

Last year, U.S. Senate Democrats blocked a tax break they said was designed exclusively to benefit Hillsdale.

The DeVos family donates to Hillsdale, where the education secretary’s brother, Erik Prince, is an alumnus. Its student body has been designated the second-most conservative in the country, after the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas.

What are academic standards?

Academic standards are the state goals for what a child should know by the end of each grade level.

The state last changed its K-12 math and reading standards in 2016. It is currently revising its science, history and computer science standards.

The revision process is lengthy. The state board initiated the cumbersome process of revising its science and history standards nearly two years ago, according to Cassie O’Quin, an education department spokeswoman.

The Arizona Department of Education brought together experts, teachers, community members and parents to help develop the standards.

On Monday, the department will present the proposed standards. They are expected to be adopted by the state board in October, according to a state timeline.

Douglas’ move to throw out both the existing and the proposed new standards in lieu of an entirely new — and largely obscure — set of standards has puzzled some.

“I’m not sure why she’s doing this,” Carole Basile, dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, said. “It’s kind of like, why these as the standards and why now?”

The Hillsdale standards include numerous differences from those currently in place. They also provide teachers week-by-week lesson prescriptions.

For instance, one of the first references to slavery in the Hillsdale standards is under a second grade Civil War section in a bullet point that reads, “controversy over slavery.” Slavery is first mentioned in the Arizona history standards draft in the fourth grade section.

There are more references to Christianity in the Hillsdale standards than in Arizona’s draft standards. Judaism and Christianity in the sixth grade Hillsdale plan are framed as “lasting ideas from ancient civilization.” One of the bullet points implies an exploration of “the nature of God and humanity” and under Judaism, “the idea of a ‘covenant’ between God and man…”

Bradley said the superintendent looked at standards across the country before settling on the Hillsdale set. He denied the accusations that the Hillsdale set are a curriculum rather than standards…

The move by Douglas drew criticism from Democratic superintendent candidate Kathy Hoffman, who on Facebook encouraged supporters to attend the meeting and protest Douglas’ presentation.

The standards, if adopted, she wrote, “Would be devastating to our students as they represent minimal learning requirements, do not account for different learning styles and would require a new curriculum. Furthermore, it would undermine the countless hours of work put in by teachers and experts.”

The state is at the tail end of reviewing its science standards.

In May, a draft of those proposed standards was circulated that had removed evolution wording.

The American Institute of Biological Scientists, a D.C.-based non-profit dedicated to the biological research advancement, published a letter Sept. 20 asking the State Board of Education to reject the proposed science standards.

Douglas tapped creationist Joseph Kezele, president of Arizona Origin Science Association, to assist in changing Arizona’s science standards in August, as first reported by the Phoenix New Times. The move ushered in a deluge of national criticism.

The Arizona Science Teachers Association, comprised of 1,200 members, criticized the draft science standards in a letter to the state board dated Sept. 20.

The changes in May include removing the word “evolution” in some areas and describing it as a “theory” in others.

In an email to The Republic in May, Douglas wrote, “Evolution is still a standard that will be taught under the Arizona Science Standards.”

A rally against those changes is planned outside the Arizona Department of Education building near the State Capitol before Monday’s board meeting. The Secular Coalition of Arizona is organizing the rally, along with other education advocates.

“It’s almost like a circus, what’s happening now,” Tory Roberg, director of government affairs for the Secular Coalition, said. “These are our children.”

Branch said the decision of an internal review board to revise references to the origin of species through natural selection seemed especially “deliberate” and “problematic” to scientists.

“The whole idea of how a new species can originate was lost in that revision,” he said. “That wasn’t careless. What (creationists) don’t like is the origin of a new species, because it implies that human beings share a common ancestry with other living things.”

Related posts

Another Ohio Charter School Scandal


Fred Smith: It’s Groundhog Day!


An Empire of Death That Made the Sackler Family Billionaires


Betsy DeVos Will Be in the Hot Seat as Five House Committees Prepare to Grill Her


Connecticut Adds New Tests for Kindergarten, 1 and 2 Grades


Puerto Rico: PR Supreme Court Approves Privatization of Public Schools


The Death of a Great High School


Peter Greene: Corporate Reformers Launch Three New Websites


DeVos and Her Aides Will Promote Vouchers and Charters Across the Country


Leave a Comment