Original URL: http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/metro/5066.php

Horne lauds TUSD Marana mid school
By Colleen Sparks

MARANA - The Arizona schools chief praised TUSD for cutting administrative expenses and honored Marana Middle School for its academic achievement in a speech Wednesday.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne also purposely dropped a passage from his State of Education speech after some American Indian leaders said it was insensitive to Arizona tribes.

Horne summarized eight promises he made during his campaign and how he has made good on them during his speech to a crowd of area administrators, teachers, parents, elected officials and students at Marana Middle School.

Some of the goals, he said, were helping students become proficient in English, improving Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards exam and developing a more fair and accurate accountability system for schools.

Horne complimented the Tucson Unified School District for its administrative cuts  and said the Tucson area, especially Flowing Wells School District's Walter Douglas Elementary School, is successfully helping students learn English.

Horne said his department plans to pilot the Opening Minds through the Arts program, implemented in TUSD, which combines music, dance and drama to help students academically, in several schools statewide this year.

Marana Middle School was honored because it is the only Title One school in the Tucson area to receive a "highly performing" label from the Arizona Department of Education in October, Horne said.

The schools chief omitted a passage from his speech from Edward Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."

The passage describes peoples who do not use a written language - which many Indian tribes do not - as a "herd of savages incapable of knowledge and reflection."

"I was there to celebrate the success of Marana Middle School, so I thought we might as well avoid the controversy," Horne said after Wednesday's speech. "I'm very much in favor of celebrating the great things in the tribes."

He planned visits to schools in Flagstaff and Prescott to deliver his speech today.

Several Indian leaders, after reading the words in the speech on the state Department of Education's Web site, said they did not show sensitivity to the accomplishments and vibrant culture of American Indians in Arizona.

Horne's spokeswoman told a reporter Tuesday that he had included the passage in his Phoenix speech. But Wednesday, Horne said he didn't recite the passage in his first State of Education speech at a Phoenix elementary school Tuesday. He said he had intended to read it but hadn't memorized the text.

"I feel totally responsible for it, and I don't personally see any significance to whether I said it in Phoenix or not," Horne said. "It's in my written speech, and whether or not I said it in Phoenix is not really relevant.

"It was in a written statement that was distributed to many people. I was responsible for it, it was my job to defend it."

* Contact reporter Colleen Sparks at 434-4076 or at colleens@azstarnet.com.

Home Page     Events and Information   Awards&Scholarships   AABE NEWS 2004      News( 2003)       News(2002)       Publications      Board_Information     Board Contact     Goals      Feedback     Research Links     Links