Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal says his newfound opposition to the Common Core educational guidelines has been misrepresented and he now thinks they are “sound standards.”
Huppenthal’s latest stance came in a video and email sent to the “education community” today, a week after he said in a political debate that he “never” supported the learning standards. That came after years of championing Common Core, known here as Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.
He is nearing the end of a GOP primary race in which his opponent, Diane Douglas, has made repealing Common Core the top issue of her campaign.
“In the Arizona College and Career Ready standards, I support sound standards like using phonics to teach reading proficiency, letter identification, and learning multiplication facts by third grade. These are excellent standards,” Huppenthal said in the video.
During the Aug. 5 debate, he said: “I have never supported the Common Core standards.”
Huppenthal went on in the debate to say at the debate that he “blocked” the Common Core literature standards because they included books like “The Bluest Eye” and “Dreaming in Cuban,” which he said are “absolute pornography.”
Common Core is a set of learning standards for math and English that were developed by an association of states and adopted by the Arizona Board of Education in 2010.
Those books are on a list of suggested reading for Common Core for 11th graders, but they aren’t required and many states have not adopted the list, said Carrie Heath Phillips, program director for Common Core State Standards at the Council of Chief State School Officers. It is one of the groups instrumental in the development of the standards.
The state Board of Education has not adopted the list either, and while Huppenthal is a voting member of the board, he does not have the authority to single-handedly block a book from being used at the school district level.
Huppenthal said in the debate he also “blocked” the Next Generation Science Standards because they are “indoctrination standards” that teach man-made global warming.
However, Arizona, has been heavily involved in developing the science standards, according to the Next Generation web site. Staffers from the Department of Education, which Huppenthal runs, recently attended conferences on them.
The department also has a page devoted to the science standards on its web site.
The Arizona Board of Education has not adopted the science standards.
In Huppenthal’s email, which contained a link to a 90-second video, he said he wanted to reassure people dedicated to Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards he “wholly” supports their work.
“Recently my support for Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards has been misrepresented. Therefore, I have released the following video in the hope that I can better clarify my stance on AZCCRS,” Huppenthal wrote.
Huppenthal said he opposes standards that present an unbalanced debate on scientific topics like climate change, and he will always oppose any standard aimed at denigrating the Founding Fathers and U.S. Constitution.
He said he will also oppose any law that will remove local control of curriculum from public schools and he will get with the next governor and education community to vet the standards in a series of public forums.