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"Huppenthal is an educational visionary!"
Last week, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal admitted that he frequently blogs at both liberal and conservative websites. He often writes as "Thucydides," a historian sockpuppet who frequently defends the policies of one John Huppenthal, such as his key role in banning textbooks from Tucson's ethnic studies program. As I wrote when the story broke, Huppenthal has some pretty goofy policies to defend, resulting in a graduation rate that's near the bottom and cuts to public education that are the third worst in the nation.

That's bad enough, but what really got the public and the media's attention this week was the content of those blog posts. His ridiculous and uninformed comments about Charles Darwin and Margaret Sanger, for instance, are the kind of trash you read at fundamentalist websites that want to discredit evolution and deny women's rights. His views on economic history and theory, which lean toward the Randian school that dismisses government safety nets, are pure hogwash, as a "Fact Check" at the Arizona Republic pointed out today. No stars. Zero. Zilch. Nada. No soup for you!

Essentially, the man in charge of public education in Arizona comes across in his comments as a far-right, bigoted religious extremist who denies history and science, and who doesn't seem to care all that much for children, especially poor ones. Just the sort of person you want in that office. Not.

Huppenthal's re-election this November now looks less than certain. He was already getting primaried from the right because of his support for Common Core, and the Democrats will field a very strong candidate. This recent news won't help his campaign one bit:

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry has canceled plans to honor Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal at its annual awards lunch next week.
Chamber CEO Glenn Hamer said his organization is canceling the award "as a direct result of what the Arizona Republic has reported." The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, like many chambers, is not exactly a liberal group, and in the last election they endorsed Huppenthal, as did other pro-business and right-to-life groups. So to see this slap upside the head from conservative movers and shakers, the people Huppenthal courted to push his privatization scheme, shows just how much trouble he's in. The Chamber said they are considering asking Huppenthal to withdraw from the race, joining a growing chorus of voices: "Education leaders, including the president of the state teachers union and two former state superintendents, said Huppenthal should drop out."

When we used to gripe about Arizona's crappy educational performance, we'd often say, "Well, at least we're not Mississippi"—or some other state that's worse off. We can't say that anymore because Arizona is consistently at or near the bottom in most measurements. It's time to elect someone to the job who isn't trying to impose a privatized theocratic model that denies reality, not to mention rights for women and the less privileged. It's time for someone who truly values both the "public" and "education" parts of public education.

Originally posted to Maggie's Farm on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 10:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by Phoenix Kossacks, Baja Arizona Kossacks, and Daily Kos.

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