Former superintendent Carolyn Warner releases autobiography, “Before I Forget”

More from this show

Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Carolyn Warner has published an autobiography, “Before I Forget,” the story of her life and accomplishments.

Warner says she intended the book to be for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She wanted to document her life and provide her family with something they could remember her by. For most, this marks the first look into her personal life, as Warner has always been very private.

Going into politics at just 11 years old, Warner was always curious about how the government works and felt inspired to help others. She began young as a political speaker for local Oklahoma politicians.

In high school Warner worked with several other students on a children’s radio program that aired every Saturday morning. When they won the Peabody Award one year, her talent was quickly recognized. A local radio and television station owner, E.K. Gaylord, asked her to be an announcer on his radio station. After working there for some time, she moved on to helping out in the television studio.

When nearly all six of her children were grown, the Warner family made the decision to move to Arizona. They had come out to visit her sister-in-law and quickly fell in love with the desert. It wasn’t long after she moved to the southwest that she was approached by people who wanted her to run for the school board.

“A group of people came up to me and said they represented the Chamber of Commerce and a bank and school boards and several other things,” Warner says. “They asked if I would run for the school board in the Phoenix Union High School district. We had a family meeting and the kids said go for it.”

After being on the school board she graduated to becoming Superintendent, and held the position for over a decade. She also ran for senate and governor. In her book, she discusses the experience of running, why she was fortunate to lose the senate race and how gender inequality played into her loss in the gubernatorial race.

“I think they were unaware a woman could manage the office of governor,” Warner says. “I was never bitter. Life’s too short. I don’t believe in carrying grudges and being bitter. I believe in being positive.”

“Before I Forget” is currently available online and in bookstores.

TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON". WE VISIT WITH CAROLYN WARNER WHO TALKS ABOUT A NEW BIOGRAHY THAT CHRONICLES HER YEARS IN EDUCATION AND POLITICS. AND WE'LL HEAR ABOUT HOW RELIGION HELPED SHAPE THE SOUND AND VOCAL STYLE OF LEGENDARY JAZZ SINGER BILLIE HOLIDAY. THOSE STORIES AND MORE, NEXT, ON "ARIZONA HORIZON".

TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON". I'M TED SIMONS. THE 9TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS TODAY FOUND THAT MARICOPA COUNTY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR POLICES CARRIED OUT BY FORMER SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO WHEN HE WAS IN OFFICE AND THUS THE COUNTY CAN BE HELD LIABLE FOR THOSE ACTIONS. TODAY'S OPINION UPHOLDS A LOWER COURT RULING. THE COUNTY HAS ARGUED THAT ARPAIO'S DISCRIMINATORY POLICIES WERE HIS OWN, BUT THE COURT FOUND THAT SHERIFF'S ARE THE FINAL POLICYMAKERS WHEN IT COMES TO LAW ENFORCEMENT MATTERS IN ARIZONA. COUNTY ATTORNEY BILL MONTGOMERY SAYS HIS OFFICE IS REVIEWING THAT OPINION.

TED SIMONS: CAROLYN WARNER IS A FAMILIAR NAME TO LONGTIME ARIZONANS. EDUCATION CHIEF IN THE 1970S AND 80S, SHE RAN FOR U.S. SENATE, SHE RAN FOR GOVERNOR, SHE'S A CELEBRATED PUBLIC SPEAKER AND REMAINS A TIRELESS ADVOCATE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION. SHE'S ALSO THE SUBJECT OF A NEW BIOGRAPHY, "BEFORE I FORGET: CAROLYN WARNER," WRITTEN BY LISA SCHNEBLY HEIDINGER. WE WELCOME CAROLYN WARNER TO "ARIZONA HORIZON". IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

CAROLYN WARNER: GOOD TO SEE YOU, TED.

TED SIMONS: THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. WHY DID YOU AGREE TO HAVE THIS

CAROLYN WARNER: I INTENDED IT TO BE FOR MY CHILDREN AND GRAND CHILDREN AND GREAT GRAND CHILDREN. I HAVE 33 AND COUNTING GRAND CHILDREN AND GREAT GRAND CHILDREN. SO I THOUGHT WE OUT TO DOCUMENT SOMETHING. THIS IS SORT OF AN ANECDOTAL BIOGRAPHY.

TED SIMONS: IT'S A WONDERFUL READ. FRIENDS SAY YOU ARE SURPRISED TOO. ONE OF MOST PRIVATE PUBLIC PEOPLE THAT THEY KNOW. YOU ARE PRIVATE, PUBLIC PEOPLE THEY KNOW.

CAROLYN WARNER: I AM PRIVATE. I LOVE TO DIG IN MY GARDEN. I RAISE MY OWN VEGETABLES AND FRUIT. I HAVE A PAPAYA TREE WITH SEVEN PAPAYA IN ARIZONA.

TED SIMONS: YOU CANNOT GROW THEM IN ARIZONA.

CAROLYN WARNER: YOU CAN'T. YOU NEED ANOTHER TREE TO POLLINATE IT. I DON'T HAVE A ONE.

TED SIMONS: THERE'S A SCIENTIFIC PAPER THERE SOMEWHERE.

CAROLYN WARNER: I THINK THERE IS.

TED SIMONS: LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR BATTLEGROUND AND FAMILY -- BACKGROUND AND FAMILY. YOU WERE YOUNG WHEN YOU GOT OUT ON STAGE?

CAROLYN WARNER: THAT'S RIGHT. I STARTED IN POLITICS WHEN I WAS ONE OF CONGRESSMAN FROM MY GRANDPARENT'S DISTRICT. HE SAID, LITTLE GIRL, WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAND OUT MY CARDS? I WAS THRILLED. I DID. TWO YEARS LATER FELLOW RAN FOR GOVERNOR ASK IF I WOULD SPEAK FOR HIM. I WAS VERY YOUNG. I COULDN'T DRIVE A CAR. MY MOTHER WOULD HAVE TO DRIVE ME FROM ONE COURTHOUSE TO ANOTHER TO SPEAK. I STARTED MAKING POLITICAL SPEECHES WAY BACK THEN.

TED SIMONS: YOU DID. YOU DANCED WITH HARRY TRUEMAN AT A BALL?

CAROLYN WARNER: YEAH.

TED SIMONS: FASCINATING UP TO THE POINT YOU DANCED WITH HARRY TRUMAN AT INAUGURAL BALL.

CAROLYN WARNER: PEOPLE WILL KNOW HOW ANCIENT I AM.

TED SIMONS: YOU WERE VERY YOUNG AND YOU DANCED WITH HIM.

CAROLYN WARNER: I WAS OKLAHOMA YOUTH REPRESENTATIVE FOR HARRY TRUMAN. WE HAD A FLOAT AND I WORTH A SHORE -- WORE AN OKLAHOMA SHOW GOWN. I WAS FREEZING. HIS WIFE HAD THE FLEW, WOULD YOU BE HIS DATE FOR HIS HOTEL. I GOT TO GO. ELMER THOMAS WAS CHAIR OF APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE AND HARRY TRUMAN WAS ON HIS BOARD. HE BECKONED HARRY TRUMAN TO COME OVER. DIDN'T REALIZE THAT HE WAS PRESIDENT AND NO LONGER A PRESIDENT OF COMMUNITY. I WOULD LIKE TO INTRODUCE TO MY GUEST. MY WIFE IS ILL AND SO THIS IS CAROLYN. THE PRESIDENT SAID, WOULD YOU LIKE TO DANCE? OF COURSE. IT WAS A FABULOUS OCCASION.

TED SIMONS: IT IS ALWAYS INTERESTING. YOU WERE COMFORTABLE SPEAKINGING AND BEING IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. YOU GOT INTO BROADCASTING THERE IN OKLAHOMA.

CAROLYN WARNER: THAT'S RIGHT.

TED SIMONS: TALK TO US ABOUT THAT.

CAROLYN WARNER: I STARTED ON A RADIO PROGRAM. I WENT TO CLASS IN HIGH SCHOOL. WE HAD A GROUP. WE DID A CHILDREN'S RADIO PROGRAM EVERY SATURDAY MORNING. WON YEAR, WE DON THE PEA -- WON THE PEABODY AWARD. GAYLORD WHO OWNED THE RADIO STATION AND INTERMITTENTLY BOUT THE BOUGHT THE FM FRANCHISE. I WANT YOU TO BE THE ANNOUNCER FOR FM. I HAD TO LEARN WHAT FM MEANT. FREQUENCY MODULATION. I DIDN'T KNOW. I HAD BOOT WITH ON AND OFF LETTER. THE ANNOUNCER WITH FABULOUS VOICE WOULD SAY THIS IS ROY KERNS FOR AM. AND I WOULD SAY AND FM.

TED SIMONS: YOU WERE A TRAIL BLADESSER WITH RADIO AND TELEVISION AS WELL.

CAROLYN WARNER: EK GAYLORD SENT THEM BEFORE WE WERE ON THE AIR.

TED SIMONS: YOU RAN A CAMERA.

CAROLYN WARNER: YES. AND BOOM MIC.

TED SIMONS: AND THEN YOU RAISED A FAMILY.

CAROLYN WARNER: YES.

TED SIMONS: YOU RAISED A BIG FAMILY.

CAROLYN WARNER:FABULOUS FAMILY.

TED SIMONS: YOU MOVED OUT TO ARIZONA.

CAROLYN WARNER: RIGHT.

TED SIMONS: WHAT BROUGHT YOU GUYS?

CAROLYN WARNER: MY HUSBAND SAYS THAT I HAD ASTHMA OUT IN ILLINOIS. WE NEVER LEFT. THERE'S A FAMILY PORTRAIT THERE. LET'S SEE.

CAROLYN WARNER: FINE GROUP OF FOLKS YOU HAVE.

TED SIMONS: REALLY ARE. AFTER RAISING THAT FAMILY WERE JUST ABOUT IFSHED RAISING THEM, FIRST IT WAS THE SCHOOL BOARD, CORRECT?

CAROLYN WARNER: WE HAD A FAMILY MEETING. GROUP OF PEOPLE CAME TO ME, ASK IF THEY COULD COME. THEY REPRESENTED THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND BANK AND SEVERAL OTHER GROUPS AND ASK IF I WOULD RUN FOR THE SCHOOL BOARD IN THE PHOENIX UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT. WE DECIDED WE WOULD THINK ABOUT IT. GIVE THEM A CALL BACK. WE HAD A FAMILY MEETING. KIDS SAYS GO FOR IT. I DID. I RAN AGAINST 11 MEN, I BELIEVE IT WAS. 7 OR 11. I CAN'T RECALL AND ONE RATHER NICE LADY.

TED SIMONS: YES WHICH DID. MOVES YOU THE AWARD THE STATE -- TOWARD THE STATE REPRESENTATIVE. THERE YOU ARE AT SWORN IN.

CAROLYN WARNER: WAS BEING SWORN AT.

TED SIMONS: NOT LONG AFTER THAT PHOTOGRAPH WAS TAKEN, YOU DECIDED TO RUN FOR U.S. SENATE. WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?

CAROLYN WARNER: THAT WAS A BIG MISTAKE. PAUL HAD RETIRED FROM SENATE. THERE WAS A VACANCY. I LOVE POLITICS. SO THERE WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO RUN. AND I LOST EVER FORTUNATELY. AND HE AND I HAVE BEEN GREAT FRIENDS. THE DAY I LOST, I TOOK ALL OF MY STAFF OVER TO HIS OFFICE, WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?

TED SIMONS: AND HE THOUGHT IT WAS JUST TALK --

CAROLYN WARNER: THAT'S THE WAY YOU DID IT IN THOSE DAYS.

TED SIMONS: THEY DON'T DO THAT ANYMORE. ALL RIGHT. THAT DIDN'T QUITE WORK OUT. YOU ARE PUBLIC OF ADMINISTRATION. FACE OF PRESENCE. WE COULD DO A WHOLE SHOW AND THENSOME ON GOVERNORS RACE. THIS IS A THREE-WAY RACE. NOT SUPPOSED TO BE. SUPPOSE TO BE YOU AND EVAN.

CAROLYN WARNER: I HAD A 22-POINT LEAD.

TED SIMONS: BILL SCHULTZ IN THE RACE DROPPED OUT, HE COMES BACK INTO THE RACE AS AN INDEPENDENT. WHY DID HE DO THAT?

CAROLYN WARNER: I HAVEN'T THE FOGGIEST NOTION. I HAVE NO IDEA. HE HAD PREPARED TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR. HE HAD ALL SORTS OF WHITE PAPER DONE CAREFULLY DONE GOOD WORK ON THESE RESEARCH PAPERS. EITHER HIS HEALTH OR ONE OF HIS DAUGHTER'S HEALTH BECAME AN ISSUE. HE CALLED ME WHEN I WAS ON VACATION WITH L.A. WITH THE FAMILY. I'M RESIGNING. WHAT DO YOU MEAN? I'M RESIGNING FROM THE RACE. I'M NOT GOING TO RUN. I THOUGHT I TELL YOU. YOU MIGHT WANT TO. WE HAD ONE OF THOSE FAMILY MEETINGS. EVERYBODY SAYS GO FOR IT. I DID.

TED SIMONS: WHY DID HE COME BACK INTO IT? MOVERS AND SHAKERS DIDN'T THINK YOU WERE CAPABLE? DO YOU THINK THERE WAS AN GENDER DEAL HERE?

CAROLYN WARNER: I THINK BOTH. I THINK THEY WERE NOT SURE THAT WOMAN WOULD RUN THE OFFICE. SECONDLY, THERE WERE OTHER THINGS AS WELL. PRIMARILY A GENDER THING.

TED SIMONS: ARE YOU BITTER AT ALL? WERE YOU EVER BITTER? WHY NOT?

CAROLYN WARNER: LIFE IS TOO SHORT. YOU GET UP THE NEXT DAY AND YOU GO AT IT ONE MORE TIME. I DON'T BELIEVE IN CARRYING GRUDGES, I DON'T BELIEVE IN BITTERNESS. I BELIEVE THAT'S A WASTE OF TIME AND ENERGY. I BELIEVE IN BEING PROCESS THROUGHOUT LIFE.

TED SIMONS: WERE YOU EVER ATTEMPTED TO RUN -- TEMPTED TO RUN AGAIN?

CAROLYN WARNER: RUN, YES, ON FOR THE BORDER.

TED SIMONS: YOU THOUGHT THAT WAS ENOUGH. EVAN GOT 44% OF THE VOTE.

CAROLYN WARNER: I KNOW.

CAROLYN WARNER: EVAN AND I SPLIT THE REMAINDER AND HE WON BY TWO POINTS. I DON'T EXPLAIN IT. I THINK NOT BOUND TO HAPPEN. NOT INTENDED TO HAPPEN.

TED SIMONS: THAT'S TRUE. THAT'S TRUE.

CAROLYN WARNER: THAT SUITS ME FINE. WHATEVER.

TED SIMONS: THERE IS SO MANY PEOPLE AMONG DEMOCRATS AND PEOPLE TO THE LEFT OF THE AISLE. THE STATE WOULD BE APPRECIABLY AND DIFFERENT IF YOU HAD ONE AND NOT EVAN. YOU THINK THAT'S – THINK THAT'S TRUE?

CAROLYN WARNER: I DO THINK THAT'S TRUE.

TED SIMONS: HOW?

CAROLYN WARNER: MY PRIMARY CONCERNS ARE FUTURES. MY CONCERN ABOUT ARIZONA IS THAT WE NOT LET OUR SUCCESS GO TO OUR HEAD, WE PLAN AND STRATEGIZE FOR FUTURE AND GROWTH AND THINK ABOUT WATER AND ROADS AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS AND SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION. I WOULD HAVE FOCUSED ON ALL OF THOSE THINGS. I WOULD HAVE FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE. AND WE WOULD NOT HAVE HAD THE ACRIMONY BECAUSE I DON'T FIGHT WITH PEOPLE, YOU KNOW. I DON'T BELIEVE IN THAT, EITHER.

TED SIMONS: WHAT DID YOU THINK OF TEACHER WALKOUT WE JUST EXPERIENCED?

CAROLYN WARNER: I'M WEARING RED.

TED SIMONS: DID YOU SUPPORT THE ACTION?

CAROLYN WARNER: YES, I DID. TEACHERS ARE SAINTS. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE A CLASSROOM OF 40 KINDERGARTENERS? IT WOULD BE A SEA OF HEADS MOVING ALL AROUND. AND OUR SCHOOL BUDGETS HAVE BEEN CUT TO THE POINT THAT WE HAD ALMOST THE DOUBLE IN ENROLLMENT IN CLASSROOMS. ANY TEACHER WILLING TO DO THAT DESERVES A CROWN. THEY ARE WORKING FOR LOWEST TEACHER SALARIES IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WHILE WE HAVE DOUBLED THE CLASS SIZE. IT'S NOT ACCEPTABLE.

TED SIMONS: WE UNFORTUNATELY ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME. MY LAST QUESTION. SOMEWHERE IN THE BOOK YOU SAY, I NEVER DID ANYTHING REALLY MAGNIFICENT. YOU DON'T HAVE ANY REGRETS. YOU DID SAY YOU NEVER DID ANYTHING REALLY -- DO YOU BELIEVE THAT?

CAROLYN WARNER: I THINK MY CHILDREN ARE MAGNIFICENT.

TED SIMONS: YOU HAVE A LOT GOING ON. THIS IS A THICK BOOK OF ACHIEVEMENT.

CAROLYN WARNER: I HAD SIX CHILDREN, OF COURSE. LOST TWO. THAT WAS A GREAT TRAGEDY. I HAVE 32 PLUS GRAND CHILDREN AS YOU KNOW AND GREAT GRAND CHILDREN AND I KNOW ALL OF THEIR NAMES. DON'T ASK. NOPE. NOPE.

TED SIMONS: I WILL NOT DO THAT.

CAROLYN WARNER: THAT GIRL IN OKLAHOMA, SHE EVER SEE WHERE YOU ARE SITTING RIGHT NOW? ENVISION THAT?

ONE OF MENTORS THAT WAS MAN CAMED ROBERT S. KERR. HE EXPECTED ME TO BE THE FIRST WOMAN GOVERNOR OF OKLAHOMA. OF COURSE, THAT I THOUGHT WAS JUST PIE-IN-THE-SKY. NO, NOT EXPECTED THAT. JUST HAPPENED.

TED SIMONS: IT'S JUST A TREMENDOUS LIFE. LISA DID A GREAT JOB.

CAROLYN WARNER: DIDN'T SHE? GREAT TO BE WITH YOU. THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON", WE TALK ABOUT HOW RELIGION SHAPED THE LIFE OF JAZZ GREAT BILLIE HOLIDAY.

Carolyn Warner: Former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction

Endeavour Watch Party

“Endeavour” Season 9 Watch Party!

National Memorial Day Concert image
aired May 28

National Memorial Day Concert

Super Why characters

Join a Super Why Reading Camp to play, learn and grow

NOVA will talk about how your brain determines your reality in
aired May 17

NOVA’s two part series on “Your Brain”

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: