Tom Horne’s Right-Hand Woman Running for State Schools Chief

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 29, 2009 1 min read
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Tom Horne will reach his term limit of eight years as Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction in 2010, but some of his views about how to educate English-language learners have a chance to live on. Margaret Garcia Dugan, Horne’s deputy superintendent, has thrown her hat into the ring for the post. Meanwhile, Horne has begun to collect donations to make a run for state attorney general.

Primary elections will be held in August. Arizona state Sen. John Huppenthal, a Republican who is the chairman of the state education committee, is also running for chief state school officer. So is Gary Nine, an educator and businessman. He’s also a Republican.

Jason Williams, the Democratic candidate for superintendent in 2006, has decided to try again.

In a telephone conversation with me this month, Dugan, a Latina and Republican who holds the No. 2 education post in the state, said she expects to be talking a lot about ELLs in her campaign. She agreed that when it comes to educating ELLs, her views jibe with those of Horne.

Not only does she support Arizona’s controversial program in which ELLs are required to receive four hours of instruction in English skills a day, but she says “that was my idea.” Horne has strictly enforced the program, which is now required by state law. Dugan added, “It’s working and it’s really what we should have been doing a long time ago.”

Dugan said she has supported Horne’s position that the Tucson district should stop offering Mexican-American/Raza studies. “To teach [students] that the United States is a bad place for them and we’re living in occupied Mexico, that’s terribly wrong,” Dugan told me. “They are going to grow up to be angry adults.”

She said she plans to talk during her campaign about her role as co-chairwoman of the effort in Arizona that succeeded in persuading voters to approve a ballot measure in 2000 to curtail bilingual education. Dugan was a teacher of ELLs in the 1970s, a principal at Glendale High School in the 1990s, and then an administrator in the Glendale Union High School District before Horne tapped her to be a state education official. As deputy superintendent, Dugan oversees Arizona’s ELL programs.

You can read more about Dugan’s opinions on how to educate English-language learners in a profile I wrote about her several years ago.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.