Horne worries some parents
By Kirsten Sorenson
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 30, 2002
PHOENIX - A group of parents from the Paradise Valley Unified School
District claims School Board President Tom Horne is a poor choice for state
superintendent for public instruction because he is not approachable and
ignores the community.
In response, the candidate, a lawyer and former state legislator, issued a
list of his supporters in the district, saying his record in 24 years on the
school board proves he routinely involved parents. The list included three
past presidents of the United Parent Council, a group of Paradise Valley
parents active in education issues. Many current board members have been
Horne, a Republican, is running against Democratic Sen. Jay Blanchard of
Gilbert. The general election is scheduled for Tuesday. The parents, five of
whom held a press conference Tuesday, say they do not necessarily support
Blanchard. But, as parent Tammy Somo explained, they wanted to give other
Arizonans information about Horne from those who "know him best."
The group was headed up by Karen Taylor, a candidate for Paradise Valley
Unified School District board.
The group raised issues relating to communication involved two district
decisions within the past year.
Last spring, the district announced the closure of the Gold Dust Elementary
School. Parents claimed the district ignored community input. Later, the
district deferred the decision for one year, admitting they hadn't given
parents enough time.
The district has also come under fire for a decision to limit the dual
language program at Palomino Elementary School to students who speak fluent
Three out of four students at the school speak Spanish at home.
"Any one incident in and of itself would not warrant such criticism, but
it's a pattern of behavior we are concerned about," Somo said.
Neither Horne nor Blanchard attended the event. But Horne later released a
list of 22 supporters from the district who praised the board president,
especially for involving parents and including a parent on every district
"Tom Horne has been a leader in the effort to include parents, along with
all other interested groups in collaborative decision making," said board
member Kay Norris, who is not running for re-election.
During the period Horne presided over the district, test scores rose
dramatically, another achievement his supporters praised.
"Horne has always supported high academic standards for the student of
Paradise Valley. (He) has also expected and support discipline in schools so
that teachers could teach and students could learn," said Tom Krebs,
Horne called the group of parents at Tuesday's press conference "miniscule."
"We have been widely viewed as having been extremely open to the community,"
he said, referring to the entire board.