Superintendent of Public Instruction debate
Sept. 14, 2022
Candidates Tom Horne (R) and Kathy Hoffman (D) participated in a half-hour debate over the Superintendent of Public Instruction position.
Horne served in this position from 2003 to 2011. He is seeking to hold this office once more, advocating for patriotism and discipline, and fighting cancel culture and Critical Race Theory.
Hoffman is running for reelection after winning as a first-time candidate in 2018. She previously worked as a preschool teacher and a speech language pathologist. As Superintendent, she will continue to focus on reducing class sizes and increasing teacher pay , as well as addressing student mental health needs and bridging the digital divide.
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“Arizona cut more from public education than other state in the country. Then with the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw nationally more significant decline in reading and math over the past year,” Hoffman said. However, she believes that there is progress occurring with the help of teachers and parents working together.
The pandemic seemed to affect students as far as their success when there was a statewide shut down. Horne believes this caused this negative outcome and provided them a disservice.
“They [schools] were kept closed for far too long and that had a very detrimental affect on their mental health and that in turn had a detrimental affect on their physical health,” said Horne.
It was mentioned that Hoffman supports an internet space called Q Chat that is in place to help queer and LGBTQ students.
“This is a resource, which is recommended by the CDC, that is meant to support our students,” said Hoffman. This online chat room allows LGBTQ students to connect with each other and provide them a safe space to discuss any challenges they may be facing.
“They should talk with trained, licensed professionals in the schools,” said Horne. He explains that this space is inappropriate for students as it can lead to harmful conversations and put them in unsafe situations.
Keeping students safe after Uvalde
“This is not a new issue with Uvalde, this goes back years. We do need to make this our number one priority, because every parent, every family member should be feeling safe sending their kid to school ,” said Hoffman.
“I am in favor of having a policeman at every school. When I made proposals… we’ve had Democrats in the legislature saying, ‘We don’t want our schools to be gun free,'” said Horne.
The two candidates had differing opinions on the topics discussed.