Original URL: http://www.arizonarepublic.com/opinions/articles/1003thur2-03.html

Horne's views balance out primary miscues
Solid choice for education chief

The Arizona Republic

Oct. 3, 2002

Like its metaphoric kin - the production of a gelding - political campaigning is not
a spectacle for the squeamish. Still, some campaigns push even the most liberal
limits of decent behavior too far.

Tom Horne, Republican candidate for state superintendent of public instruction,
delivered a rude blow to decorum in his primary race against Jaime Molera, the
current office-holder. Waving the long-settled bilingual education sword at a
Hispanic candidate was a nasty way to win a GOP primary.

As a result, it is difficult to refocus on the more legitimate issues that Horne
advocates. He does have them. Horne proposes reasonable ideas for using the
AIMS graduation test; he is a stickler for raising achievement and enforcing
discipline among students and schools alike; and he is a sensible advocate for
charter schools.

The appeal of Horne's issues crystallizes when his opponent, Democrat Jay
Blanchard, comes into view. Blanchard remains a strong opponent of the AIMS
test, but the focus he projected in his primary campaign seems diffused in the
general race. He's all over the map with his issues, supporting everything and
nothing at once.

Blanchard claims support for charters, for example. But the hybrid public schools
would fare better without such "friends."

The Arizona State University School of Education professor insists oppressive
regulations burdening traditional public schools should be lifted so they can
compete better with charters. Don't just extend bureaucracy onto the shoulders
of charters, he said. In the next breath, however, he would require charters to
hire only certified teachers, a tremendous, new burden that could break many of
the struggling schools.

Horne has 24 years of experience on the Paradise Valley School Board, a period
in which the test scores in the district rose dramatically. He is a true supporter of
charter schools, which he demonstrated in his time on the Education Committee
at the state Legislature.

Intelligent, articulate and savvy, Horne is not the kind of public figure we would
have imagined stooping to the sort of primary campaign he waged. We expected
more of him. We expect a lot more of him now.

The Arizona Republic recommends Republican Tom Horne for superintendent
of public instruction.

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