Groups want to learn more about education chief

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX (AP) -- Several major education groups say they're interested in learning more about Diane Douglas' positions on education issues, including more about her views regarding the new school standards known as Common Core.

Douglas is a Republican who was elected state superintendent of public instruction, defeating Democrat David Garcia in last week's general election.

Garcia conceded Monday, the same day that Douglas issued a statement saying her victory is a mandate to end Common Core.

Douglas is former Peoria school board member who ran a low-key campaign in which she largely avoided public events in favor of tea-party gatherings and interviews on conservative talk radio shows.

Arizona School Boards Association President Tim Ogle said his group is going to try to arrange a meeting with Douglas. "I think the purpose of a conversation like that is to become familiar with her beliefs because we're really not very familiar and to give her the opportunity to converse with us about her hopes and fears for the Department of Education," Ogle said.

As superintendent, Douglas will oversee the state Department of Education and be a member of the state Board of Education. That board, along with the Arizona Legislature, sets education policy for the state's K-12 public school system. It adopted Common Core in 2010.

Some Arizona lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation to either repeal the standards or change them during the last legislative session.

Ogle said his group wants to know whether Douglas has an alternative to Common Core. "If Mrs. Douglas has another strategy, then we're anxious to know what it is," he said.

Andrew Morrill, president of the Arizona Education Association, said educators didn't learn much about Douglas during the campaign aside from her opposition to Common Core.

"She was very clear on that issue, and yet there are questions even about her thoughts on our academic standards," the union president said. "I think a lot of folks are waiting to hear the answer. There are a million public-school students, and they are creating the urgency."

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