Special Education Teacher Wins Close Race for Arizona Schools Superintendent

Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman, center, greets supporters during the Arizona Democrats election watch party on Nov. 6 in Phoenix.
Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman, center, greets supporters during the Arizona Democrats election watch party on Nov. 6 in Phoenix.
—Laura Segall for Education Week
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Phoenix

Democrat special education teacher and political novice Kathy Hoffman has won the race for Arizona superintendent of public instruction, beating an experienced Republican politician.

Hoffman was declared the winner Monday night as her lead over Frank Riggs grew insurmountable during Arizona's lengthy vote count.

Hoffman was one of hundreds of current and former educator-activists on general election ballots across the nation following this year's #RedForEd protests. Demonstrators called for support of higher teacher pay and increased public school funding.

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Hoffman beat a former state senate minority leader in the August primary and stressed her work at a blue-collar school in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale in her bid to run the state's education department. She said career politicians and political insiders don't necessarily make the best candidates.

Riggs is a former California U.S. congressman who also headed a nonprofit group that helped charter schools with funding. He criticized Hoffman's lack of experience and stressed his own political and management experience.

An unprecedented May teacher strike shut down Arizona public schools for nearly a week. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a plan for teacher pay raises that will reach 20 percent by 2020, including 1 percent granted during the past budget year.

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