Monday, July 23, 2007

Former State Superintendents File Court Documents against AZ Dept.of Education

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Former Superintendents File Court Documents against AZ Dept. of Education
Bishop, Keegan, Molera oppose new curriculum mandate

Contact: Starlee Rhoades
(602) 462-5000 x 226

Phoenix--Three previous Superintendents of Public Instruction, who served consecutively from 1987 to 2003, have filed court documents in support of a Goldwater Institute lawsuit against a new Arizona Department of Education curriculum alignment mandate. The Superintendent of Public Instruction is the top elected education official in Arizona.

"It is highly unusual for former government officials to question the regulatory authority of their successor, which underscores how far the ADE has overstepped its bounds," said Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, which is suing the ADE on behalf of five charter schools.

The Arizona Legislature created charter schools in 1994 to provide "alternatives to traditional public schools." In 2003, ADE began requiring charter schools to align their curricula to state prescribed curriculum, despite its lack of regulatory authority. In 2007, ADE further mandated that all schools teach U.S. History in the seventh and eighth grades, compromising the curricular integrity of Arizona's most successful charter schools, leading to today's lawsuit.

"I am alarmed, both procedurally and substantively, over ADE's efforts to impose curriculum alignment upon charter schools," wrote C. Dianne Bishop (R), Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1987-1995.

Lisa Graham Keegan (R), Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1995-2001, writes, "The imposition of grade-by-grade curriculum alignment on schools that were meant to have distinctive educational programs is an egregious regulatory overreach."

Jaime Molera (R), Superintendent of Public Instruction immediately preceding the current Superintendent Tom Horne (R), said "I do not believe that the Superintendent or the ADE possesses the authority to lock schools into a curriculum methodology that does not meet the needs of their students. The requirement of grade-by-grade curriculum alignment focuses on process rather than outcomes, which is contrary to the concept of charter schools."

Charter schools are governed by an independent regulatory agency called the State Board of Charter Schools (SBCS). Charter schools must be authorized by the SBCS before they can open. During the authorization process, the school must demonstrate that its planned curriculum will meet the state academic standards measured by the AIMS test. Like traditional public school students, charter students are required to pass the AIMS test.

The Declarations of Ms. Bishop, Ms. Keegan and Mr. Molera, and other case documents, are available online. The Goldwater Institute will present its arguments for a preliminary injunction on August 6 before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Miles.

The Goldwater Institute's public policy research and litigation work is made possible by the generosity of our supporters. Please click here to make a tax- deductible contribution.

Starlee Rhoades
Director of Communications
(602) 462-5000 x 226
Clint Bolick
Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation
(602) 462-5000

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