Superintendent Race Heats Up: Garcia Accuses Huppenthal of Flip-Flopping on Common Core

The debate over Common Core has been central to the race for State Superintendent of Public Education, and one challenger of incumbent John Huppenthal's claims that his opponent is sending mixed signals on exactly where he stands.

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David Garcia, a contender in the August 26 Democratic primary, cites Huppenthal's recent radio interview with John C. Scott, in which Huppenthal said he is opposed to the "new definition" of Common Core and that he would seek a review of the standards to "keep all the good stuff" and to cut what he referred to as the "crap." Huppenthal previously had been a strong proponent of the Common Core guidelines-- called the College and Career Ready Standards here in Arizona -- referring to opponents as "barbarians at the gate."

Huppenthal's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The August 26 Republican primary will pit Huppenthal against Diane Douglas, whose campaign platform revolves around stopping Common Core in the state. Her website, in answer to the question of why she is running, says, "Quite simply, to stop the Common Core Standards in Arizona."

The Democratic primary pits Garcia, an education professor at ASU, against Sharon Thomas, a teacher. Thomas supports Common Core, claiming on her website to be "the only candidate who has written curriculum aligned to Common Core and taught under the CC standards."

Garcia supports Common Core as part of the school-improvement equation but wants it to be used in the scheme of a larger school accountability structure that looks at more than just test scores. "I am in favor of the Common Core standards, and we need a high quality assessment to gauge those standards," he says. "Where I differ from all of the other candidates in this race is my belief that we need to look beyond standardized tests to measure student academic achievement."

Garcia claims that unlike Huppenthal, his stance on Common Core has remained consistent throughout the campaign.

The general election for State Superintendent of Public Education will be held on November 4.

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Ashley Cusick
Contact: Ashley Cusick