Aide: Douglas won't immediately toss Common Core

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX (AP) -- Diane Douglas has said her election win as Arizona's state superintendent of public instruction was a mandate to end new school standards known as Common Core, but a top aide says she won't be trying to immediately throw out the state's version.

Douglas' Chief of Staff Michael Bradley, a former legislative policy adviser, said there are checks and balances that keep any one elected official from making dramatic changes, the Arizona Capitol Times reported.

"What we'll be working towards with the Legislature and the governor's office, is to come up with a process to keep high standards in Arizona that are developed through a broad reach of educational professionals here, school districts, parents, teachers; bringing those people together so we have the highest standards possible," Bradley said.

A former Peoria school board member, Douglas defeated incumbent John Huppenthal in the Republican primary election and narrowly edged Democrat David Garcia in the general election.

Douglas waged a low-key campaign in which she largely avoided public events in favor of tea party gatherings and conservative talk radio interviews. She takes office in January.

She said shortly after the general election that news coverage that painted her as a one-issue candidate focused on ending Common Core meant that's what voters knew about her when they cast their ballots.

While Douglas' critics said during the campaign that she could not single-handedly toss Common Core, she could gum up the works. The superintendent heads the state Department of Education and is a member of the state Board of Education.

Pearl Chang Esau, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona, a nonprofit that is a staunch supporter of the standards, said Bradley's Douglas' intended approach, as described by Bradley, is a wise one.

"It is about the right time to start looking at them and saying, `These have been in classrooms, what have we learned? Are there tweaks we want to make here and there?'" Esau said. "I think we would support a process like that."

However, Esau said she doesn't think Arizona can sustain another major change in standards.

Bradley said Douglas wants flexibility for Arizona to make changes to its standards without having to get approval from the 45 other states that are part of the association of states that developed them.

He said Douglas also wants districts to have flexibility to spend teaching time on their own distinct needs instead of working all year on a single set of standards.
 

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