Original URL: http://www.arizonarepublic.com/opinions/articles/1102sat1-02.html

What virtue is schools candidate trying to teach?
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 2, 2002

"Schools should teach character."

This is one of the four issues brought forth on the Web site of the  Republican candidate for superintendent for public instruction and the current president of the Paradise Valley School Board, Tom Horne.

Even though I never remember being taught about character in my 13 years in  the PVUSD, I do remember learning the ins and outs of common courtesy, which apparently doesn't define character. At least according to Horne.

In late September, I was assigned by one of my co-workers to cover a story for our school newspaper, the Rattler Review, that would outline the upcoming election for Arizona SPI and exactly what effect it would have on me and the other students of North Canyon High School, which is in Horne's district.

The first step I took was to visit the Web sites of the two candidates for that office, Jay Blanchard and Tom Horne.

Both sites call for "ending Arizona's education crisis" and link to graphs of test scores, not to mention the all-important family photos.

Seeing as it is hard to answer questions regarding the fate of the AIMS test or to figure out whether or not bilingual education really is muerto with family photos and line graphs, I went straight to the source.

On Sept. 25, I e-mailed both candidates asking whether they would be interested in a personal interview or would rather answer some questions via e-mail.

Both candidates agreed to the latter on Sept. 26.

"Ok to e mail me a few question and I'll get (responses) to you but please understand that my time is very tight right now so please keep it to a few," Horne wrote.

As soon as I received the responses, I returned both e-mails with seven questions: five general questions that would be the same for each candidate and two specific questions that surrounded the touchy subject of bilingual education.

Days later, a response came from Blanchard, who, incidentally, is a state senator from Gilbert, a city with presumably no connections to the Paradise Valley Unified School District.

Conversely, Horne did not answer me until four weeks later, on Oct. 24, which left me with only enough quotes to write a weak and seemingly one-sided story.

I valued the response, but why four weeks later? Why should a student who has taken the initiative to get involved in politics and journalism have to wait so long for a response? I believe if anything, that shows a lack of involvement with the very students that will be affected by him if he is elected to office.

I felt that I was doing Horne a favor by giving him the chance to show his opinion and persuade 18-year-old voters to support him.

It is equally important to note that I did not give Horne a deadline as to when he should send a response. I felt that if either candidate were to respond, Horne would be the most likely, and therefore deadlines were irrelevant.

As noted on www.tomhorne .com, "Students should learn virtues - courage, prudence, moderation, and justice - and the civic virtue of service and participation to one's community."

Christopher Lutz is a student at North Canyon High School, which is in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. He may be reached at chrisL@i4f.net The views are those of the author.


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