Arizona State University professor David Garcia will most likely win the Democratic primary in the Arizona governor race next Tuesday. Garcia staunchly opposes school choice, especially voucher programs, and insists that he “has sent” his daughters to public schools, not charters. One of his daughters does attend a charter school, however.
Garcia admitted as much in an August 12 Democrat candidate forum. When NBC affiliate 12 News reporter Brahm Resnik asked him where his kids go to school, he replied, “I attended public schools in Arizona and my daughters have attended a traditional public school and a charter school.”
In November 2016, he admitted the same thing. Raising Arizona Kids’ Victoria Harker reported that Garcia sent his 7-year-old daughter Olivia to Augustus H. Shaw Jr. Montessori School in the Phoenix Elementary District, and his 9-year-old daughter Lola to Arizona School for the Arts, a charter school.
Yet, in Garcia’s campaign biography, he claims that both of his daughters attend public schools. “David married his high school sweetheart, Lori, a fellow Mesa High Jackrabbit. Together, they have two beautiful daughters Lola and Olivia who attend our public schools.”
On July 22, Garcia tried to have it both ways. Politics Unplugged’s Dennis Welch asked him about the issue, and he cleverly insinuated that he only sent his daughters to a traditional public school.
“You’re a champion of public schools and did you send your kids to a traditional public school or a charter school?” Welch asked.
“I have sent my two daughters to public schools in Phoenix Elementary District,” Garcia replied.
Welch asked directly, “Are they charter schools?”
“No, traditional public schools. It’s actually a magnet school in the Phoenix Elementary School District,” the candidate responded. Now catch this: “That’s where my daughters went ’til they were three to five, one of them is still there, the other is at the Arizona School for the Arts.”
Wait, what? Does he send his kids to public schools or does he send one of his daughters to a charter school? The Arizona School for the Arts is a non-profit public charter school in Phoenix, Ariz. This college prep school boasts of its “high academic standards,” noting that “our test scores are among the highest in the state.”
That sounds like a good school, but David Garcia not only opposes school choice but also opposes the use of standardized tests. In March, he released a statement about his education goals as governor. Garcia pledged to “End the Addiction to Standardized Testing” and “fight to end voucher schemes.”
This was far from an isolated statement. In an interview with the National Education Association (NEA)’s Brian Washington, Garcia attacked voucher programs, which empower parents to choose where their kids go to school.
Garcia blasted “the largest voucher expansion in the country” as “an idea pushed by folks outside Arizona including The American Federation for Children and [Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos. No one in Arizona was asking for these vouchers.”
“DeVos’ and [Arizona Republican Gov.] Doug Ducey’s voucher program will harm our public schools by forcing taxpayers to fund two school systems, when we are not even able to support one currently,” Garcia argued. “These vouchers siphon precious public dollars away from public education and into unaccountable private and religious schools that are not required to meet basic state standards around student achievement and are allowed to pick and choose who they enroll.”
“I opposes [sic] these harmful, unaccountable, and discriminatory vouchers in any shape, form or disguise and, when elected, I will fight to end all voucher schemes,” Garcia declared.
In September, the candidate will publish a book with MIT Press entitled “School Choice.” Ironically, some have falsely accused the book of having an anti-public education agenda. While Garcia insists the book presents arguments for and against school choice in a balanced manner, and reporters seem to have agreed with him, Garcia’s academic research has skewed anti-choice in the past.
It's a primer for people interested in history of school choice & policies today. Wouldn't call it 'academic'; it's very accessible. Presents critiques from both sides. Don't recall him calling out DeVos.
— BrahmResnik (@brahmresnik) August 23, 2018
In 2011, Garcia attacked a report from the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) that discovered a lower achievement gap between black and white students at charter schools than at public schools in California.
In his critique, Garcia twisted the claims CCSA made, and attacked good statistics as misleading. “It is indeed difficult to believe that this is something inadvertent, and suggests his aim has less to do with providing a balanced critique about the limitations of the study than to discredit the work on its face,” CCSA alleged. “We reject Dr. Garcia’s analysis and critique, and stand behind our report’s results on both the findings and our methodology.”
This anti-school choice slant would be in keeping with the candidate’s political positions and his attacks on DeVos and Doucey.
Ducey and DeVos are in this together and harming our public schools with their voucher program. I’ve spent my career dedicated to improving AZ public schools so that every child has the best shot at opportunity. I’d be honored to earn your vote. #dg4az https://t.co/bMQ6b6UsjN
— David Garcia (@dg4az) August 7, 2018
The “discriminatory voucher schemes” Garcia hates so much actually enable parents to send their kids to private or parochial schools and still receive state funding to help meet expenses. This is part of a broader school choice movement that has expanded opportunities across the country, most notably in Washington, D.C., where charter schools outperform public schools.
Parents may have many incentives to choose options for their children besides the traditional public school. Some of these schools boast better test scores and college preparation — like Arizona School for the Arts — but many simply offer an education more in line with parents’ beliefs and values.
In a time when schools are forced to teach transgenderism to kindergarteners without notifying parents, and when powerful leftist groups like Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center push LGBT ideas in schools, these other options are arguably more important than ever. While Garcia seems rather mum on abortion and LGBT issues, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed him.
Besides this, however, Garcia’s campaign revolves around race-based identity politics, as reported by the Washington Free Beacon’s Brent Scher. Liberal financier Steve Phillips’ Democracy in Color hailed Garcia’s campaign as a roadmap for his national plan — laid out in the book “Brown Is the New White” — merely due to the candidate’s race.
Garcia himself echoed this idea, saying, “I believe a Garcia needs to win in Arizona. For this state to really reach its promise, for this state to be fully represented by the people of Arizona, somebody with my last name needs to win.” Oh, and one of his major beefs about school choice also has to do with race.
By championing race in this way, Garcia may be pushing yet another ideology many parents would rather not have their kids indoctrinated with — the idea of “white privilege.”
Earlier this month, PJ Media reported on tweets sent by Garcia’s digital director, Xenia Orona. When Mitt Romney won Arizona in 2012, she sent an “open letter to Arizona: f*ck you.” She also called America a “sh*thole country” and said that law enforcement is a smokescreen for oppression.
Given Garcia’s positions, his rush to part ways with Orona seemed more damage control than a true rejection of the offensive ideas she expressed.
Garcia’s attacks on school choice and his attempt to hide the fact that he sends his daughter to a charter school just add to the reasons why this Democrat is too shifty and extreme for Arizona.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.