Weakened SPI Diane Douglas cedes power

March 3, 2015

Elected Superintendent of Public Instruction relinquishes authority to unelected state board

The Arizona Daily Independent does a fine job of explaining the current bizarre state of affairs involving recently elected Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, her Chief of Staff Michael Bradley, and their willing acquiescence in allowing the Senate Education Committee to eviscerate her authority in overseeing the State Board of Education’s staff.

Among other things, HB 2184 would remove any oversight of the unelected board and staff by changing the language defining her role with the board from “executive officer of the State Board of Education” to “executive officer responsible for the execution of policies of the State Board of Education.”

Attempting to put the best face on this abdication of duties in the wake of her public battles with Gov. Doug Ducey, in which Seeing Red AZ championed her effortsDouglas now claims she supports the restraining measure in order to save legal expenses for the taxpayers.

Don’t skip over the concerns expressed by leading conservative and former Senate Majority leader Thayer Verschoor. He is quoted in the news report as referring to Douglas’ actions as an “abdication of power” and the revision of duties as  “VERY BAD POLICY.”


Common Core: Making news for all the right reasons

February 20, 2015

The Arizona House Education Committee voted 5-2 approving a proposal that would scrap the state’s imposition of Common Core “standards” and strip the Board of Education’s ability to adopt new ones. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Finchem, (R-LD 11), now moves to the House floor.

Read the amended version of H.B.2190, which was approved after testimony from those on both sides of this contentious issue. A video of the hearing can be viewed here.

Seeing Red AZ has frequently covered the various incarnations of the Common Core back story and deceptive name change —- once it became too toxic. In the end, it comes down to the GOP establishment, with John McCain yet again playing the manipulator behind the curtain vs. the grassroots conservatives who put the underestimated Diane Douglas in office.

When Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas acted within the purview of her office, she was hammered by a Hamer. The establishment view is summed up by this obnoxious comment by obliging tool Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. “It’s bizarre and outrageous and offensive and she should apologize to all she’s offended,” Hamer is quoted in the New York Times. “Her comments and behavior aren’t necessarily following a linear pattern at this point.”

In other words, for having the temerity to disagree with the elites, Diane Douglas can deliberately be deemed nuts by the diminutive, insult-hurling Hamer.

The superintendent’s remarks were “intense even for Diane Douglas,” blasted Lisa Graham Keegan, who had previously called Superintendent Douglas “erratic.” Name calling has become commonplace among Common Core proponents. John Huppenthal, the troubled man replaced by Douglas referred to opponents as “barbarians.”  Like newly elected Gov. Doug Ducey, Keegan is closely tied to the McCain faction.  A RINO-turned-Independent who supported Douglas’ radical leftwing educrat opponent, Keegan served as McCain’s education policy advisor during his failed presidential campaign.

The conservative base of the Republican Party supported Diane Douglas. As the establishment choice, Doug Ducey had the backing and financial network of the GOP hierarchy.  He was also the beneficiary of scattered votes in a 6-way Republican primary field. A Libertarian and Americans Elect candidate further diluted the pool. 

Ducey needs to reassess his victory and realize he is the governor. He owes John McCain and his political kneecapping cronies nothing more than a courteous greeting when they meet at public functions. They don’t belong in his office and when they call, his secretary can honestly tell them he’s busy.  After all, he’s got a cash-strapped state to run. By virtue of her election, Diane Douglas is already in charge of the Arizona Department of Education.


Ducey-Douglas rift stoked by Lisa Graham Keegan

February 17, 2015

Arizonans need score card to keep track of AZ Republic’s schizophrenic coverage

Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts appears to applaud state Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, saying she “Scored Direct hit on Gov. Doug Ducey.’ The claque of Mary Jo Pitzl and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez go off in a pro-Lisa Graham Keegan direction.  E. J. Montini, the dutiful leftist follows the editorial board’s anti-Douglas instructions as he hopes to hang on just another few years until his social security kicks in and before the newspaper kicks off. Robert Robb, the more cerebral of the pack, gives points to Diane Douglas, saying Gov. Doug Ducey lacks the authority to reinstate the two state Board of Education staff members fired by Douglas. Columnist Doug MacEachern?  He weighs in using the take-no-prisoners prerogative, “maniacal” to describe Douglas. These are merely iceberg tips, but readers get the drift.

In nearly every report the name Lisa Graham Keegan appears. This past weekend, she was Brahm Resnik’s haughty guest on “Sunday Square Off.” (linked video follows ad.)

And who is the seemingly ubiquitous Lisa Graham Keegan, suddenly grabbing headlines?

Keegan, a RINO-turned-Independent who supported Douglas’ radical leftwing educrat opponent, oddly seems to be regarded by Ducey as the state school superintendent. And why not? Like Ducey, Keegan is a McCain ally. She served as McCain’s education advisor during his doomed presidential bid.  Keegan formerly held the top school position before ditching it back in 2001 with a year-and-a-half of her term remaining. The heady aura of Washington, D.C. was too compelling to keep her in Arizona to fulfill her commitment to the voters who put her in office. She also left rudderless the controversial Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test which she had championed as a high school graduation requirement. AIMS was a hotly debated precursor of Common Core.

When Keegan boogied in 2001, then-Gov. Jane Hull appointed lobbyist Jaime Molera to replace her. When the term expired, Molera ran for the position losing to conservative Tom Horne, who was then elected to two consecutive terms.

This past November, grassroots candidate Diane Douglas ran and was elected on an unambiguous anti-Common Core platform. Keegan not only supports the federal overreach into local education, but derides Douglas as “erratic,” even as she tap dances around the issue of fewer dollars for public schools while Ducey slices $13 million from the state education budget.

Conservatives who have ample reasons to distrust the GOP establishment are banking on Diane Douglas holding firm to her campaign pledges. As Robert Robb noted, “she is intensively disliked by all the right people.”


Breitbart covers AZ’s education standoffs

February 15, 2015

All dots lead back to John McCain

Breitbart’s Big Government, a premier national news site, finds Arizona’s Douglas/Ducey battle worthy of coverage. The report, Battle Lines Drawn Between Anti-Common Core Superintendent and Arizona Governor covers newly elected Gov. Doug Ducey’s overreaches and Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas’ actions and responses. 

Tucked in among the facts most state residents have been following and on which we have reported, is a fascinating connection that has previously been missed. In addition to Ducey bringing Common Core enthusiast Lisa Graham Keegan onboard his new education subcommittee, he has included Matthew Ladner, described as “a close associate of Common Core champion Jeb Bush.”

Keegan is a former-RINO-turned-Independent who endorsed Douglas’ radical leftist educrat challenger while lobbing insults at Douglas. She met the threshold of Republican establishment allegiance by serving as education advisor for John McCain’s failed presidential campaign.

And Matthew Ladner? Prior to joining the Foundation for Excellence in Education, founded by Jeb Bush and funded by liberals, Ladner worked for Clint Bolick at the Alliance for School Choice. Bolick then moved to the Libertarian Goldwater Institute, oddly favored by the leftwing Arizona Republic newspaper. Ladner followed. Clint Bolick and Jeb Bush co-authored a book, “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” which in retrospect sounds like a blueprint for Obama’s egregious amnesty actions.

We’ll connect the dots. Arizona’s junior Sen. Jeff Flake is John McCain’s doppelganger. Both are longtime proponents of amnesty for illegals. Flake, supported by McCain for the seat previously held by Jon Kyl, is a former Executive Director of the Goldwater Institute. Clint Bolick’s wife has twice run for a state legislative seat, losing both times.  This 2010 event was a Who’s Who of well-heeled McCain supporters. In this short video clip, Bush calls illegal immigration “an act of love” that “shouldn’t rile people up.’ Here Bush and Bolick openly push for amnesty minus the pretenses.

This is a gang that shoots in one direction —– aiming back at the law-abiding Arizona taxpayers forced to fund their schemes, while charging forward to open the border floodgates. If one doesn’t reach the destination, reinforcements are supplied by the Chambers of Commerce, and their illegal alien profiteer members.


Diane Douglas and Doug Ducey: A messy split

February 13, 2015

Just before Valentine’s Day, Cupid’s arrow misses the heart and hits the jugular

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas and Gov. Doug Ducey, both newly elected Republicans, are engaged in a public battle over education authority.

The most recent skirmish centers on Douglas’ firing of the executive director and her assistant at the 11-member state Board of Education. Ducey promptly reinstated the two women, claiming Douglas lacks the ability to remove them. Douglas, on the other hand, says she clearly has the constitutional authority.  She shot back with this 2-page letter informing Gov. Ducey she did not see his name on the ballot for state superintendent. 

“It is no surprise that his office supports retaining two liberal staff who have publicly stated they will block all efforts to repeal or change Common Core and backs the newly elected President of the Board of Education who is a charter school operator and stands to profit from the Governor’s policy of pushing through AZ Merit to lower school scores so that more students can be removed to charter schools,” Douglas stated. “I swore to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the State of Arizona with my hand upon the Bible. I take that oath very seriously and will continue to do so. I also promised the voters of the state to replace Common Core and will not falter in my best efforts to keep my promise, regardless of whether the Governor honors his campaign rhetoric to do the same,” Douglas reminded Ducey.

From the onset of his Jan. 5 inauguration, Ducey with massive budgetary woes and plenty of statewide issues on his plate, has been inappropriately focused on education matters. He recently held an education town hall which omitted Douglas but included Lisa Graham Keegan a former RINO turned Independent, who endorsed Douglas’ Democrat challenger. Keegan, a Common Core advocate, was the education policy advisor for John McCain’s failed presidential bid. Superintendent Douglas made public the fact that Gov. Ducey has refused to take calls or meet with her since his swearing-in.

Douglas was recognized as the lone conservative among the statewide top-tier of elected officials, waging a winning grassroots campaign due to her resolute opposition to the fed’s heavy handedness in promoting the increasingly unpopular Common Core. Her message resonated with voters, carrying her across the finish line with a stunning 58 to 41 Primary victory, trouncing the incumbent. In the General Election she defeated a heavily funded, leftist educrat opponent.

The conservative base of the Republican Party supported Diane Douglas. As the establishment choice, Doug Ducey had the backing and financial network of the elites. He was also the beneficiary of scattered votes in a 6-way Republican primary field. A Libertarian and Americans Elect candidate further diluted the pool.

Doug Ducey may win this battle, but will ultimately lose the war. Messing with the base is not politically astute.


Dad protests Islamic indoctrination in school, files lawsuit

February 11, 2015

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) refers to itself as the Christian response to the ACLU, as it defends and promotes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values —-  including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.  It provides its services pro bono.

Among the key issues and numerous cases TMLC has taken on is this one that needs to stay in the spotlight. It falls under the heading of Common Core, a topic Seeing Red AZ has covered extensively and one which TMLC has devoted considerable effort in exposing.

The Michigan-based group is representing firefighter and former Marine John Kevin Wood, and his wife, Melissa, in their battle with La Plata High School in Maryland over the Islamic indoctrination of their 11th-grade daughter in her World History class. Their daughter was required to complete assignments in which she had to affirm that “There is no God but Allah” and the other Five Pillars of Islam. Wood defended freedom in both Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. When he protested the curriculum, he was banned from the school property. 

Late in 2014, TMLC reported, “Marine Dad Banned from School Property; Daughter Gets Failing Grade for Refusing Islamic Indoctrination,” as it announced its representation of the Wood family in a lawsuit. We urge you to read the post. This study program could be coming to a school near you.


Looking small: Ducey disses Douglas

February 7, 2015

Is Lisa Graham Keegan Ducey’s shadow education superintendent?

KPHO TV 5, the local CBS affiliate, reports on the most recent Republican snub lobbed in the direction of Diane Douglas, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. This time the salvo comes from newly elected Gov. Doug Ducey, a fellow Republican, who neither informed Douglas of his education town hall nor invited her to participate in the Thursday event.

Since his Jan. 5, inauguration, Ducey has focused on education issues —- clearly excluding the state schools chief. Previously it was state Republican Party chairman Robert Graham who omitted Douglas from this “Your Republican Team” mailer in advance of the General Election.

Douglas was recognized as the lone conservative among the statewide top-tier of elected officials, waging a winning grassroots campaign due to her resolute opposition to the fed’s heavy handedness in promoting the increasingly unpopular Common Core. Her message resonated with voters, carrying her across the finish line with a stunning 58 to 41 Primary victory.  In the General Election she defeated a heavily funded, leftist educrat opponent.

Yet right out of the chute, and before his actual swearing-in, Governor-elect Ducey announced the formation of an education subcommittee which included Common Core enthusiast Lisa Graham Keegan, a former RINO turned Independent, who endorsed Douglas’ Democrat challenger.

During the campaign, Keegan attacked Douglas, stating she was “promoting a sort of a paranoia” by opposing the federal education scheme. Keegan, who was John McCain’s education advisor during his doomed presidential bid, referred to Douglas’ opposition to Common Core as “destructive.”

In announcing the formation of his education team, Ducey claimed he was looking “forward to working with education professionals to identify the best policies to improve our schools, find the most talented people to assume key positions in my administration and ensure we are putting Arizona students, teachers and parents first.”

Ducey’s town hall brush-off of Douglas while Keegan participated in the forum, puts a lie to his claim of “working together” for the betterment of Arizona’s students, teachers and parents. The Arizona Constitution provides for both a governor and a superintendent of public instruction in addition to other elected state officers. Each job has specific duties and oversight. It’s time for Gov. Ducey to govern and let the actual superintendent do her job.


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