Becky Fenger Fenger PointingMAY 26, 2010

A new school chief

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Republican Margaret Dugan is running for the office of Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. She would replace Tom Horne who is taking a run at Arizona Attorney General. From what I know so far, she will get my vote.

Dugan is a native Arizonan who was born in Jerome and raised in Bisbee as one of ten children. Her father was a hard-working copper miner, and both parents believed one could become anything in this great country with the help of a good education. To that end, Dugan has spent 37 years in every aspect of the education arena, from a classroom teacher, to a principal, to a teaching mentor improving teachers' skills, to a district administrator. Currently she is Arizona's deputy state superintendent.

A feather in her cap was being named one of the "One Hundred Most Effective Principals in the Nation," with her successes outlined in a nationally-acclaimed book. This little woman chose to take up the challenge at Glendale High School where three large gangs held sway. She attended a gang task force put on monthly by the police, was taught to recognize the three identifying factors, and then rid the school of the gangs who had been shooting up the neighborhoods. She would not permit the carrying of beepers, which were used by students to signal each other for drugs.

Eighty percent of the students came from low socioeconomic circumstances and their performance was dismal. Dugan turned achievement around in two to three years. She believes all successful schools need five basic elements: a dedicated principal, effective teachers, a comprehensive curriculum, a sound discipline program and motivated students.
"I got into politics when I became the co-chair and co-author of "English for the Children,'" Dugan explains. She is pleased that 63 percent of the electorate saw fit to get rid of bilingual education. She is running for schools chief in large part because she firmly believes English needs to be the language of instruction in all our schools. Hooray for her.

The legislature has passed a bill that would end social promotion if children can't read by the third grade. Amazingly, there is an exemption for ELL (English Language Learner) kids, who may advance to the fourth grade without reading or speaking English. "This is discriminatory," she says. She's right.

Margaret Dugan brought to light and fought against the controversial ethnic studies in the Tucson Unified School District called "La Raza," which means "The Race." Before you brand her a racist, be aware that her maiden name is Garcia. "This La Raza racist agenda teaches our students that they are oppressed instead of teaching the freedoms that you and I were taught," she explains. With her background, she finds that very unacceptable and harmful.
Since this strong lady values the principles on which this country was founded, she is committed to adding a U.S. Constitution test for 8th grade students and requiring more in-depth teaching of the Constitution beginning in kindergarten through to the 12th grade. Yes! Yes!

Dugan believes in preserving local control of schools. "The further the money gets away from the classroom, the less effect it has," she says. I'm happy to report she does not view more money as the answer, but labels effective teachers as the magic bullets. "Thirty kids with a good teacher will outperform fifteen kids with a bad teacher," she maintains.

One of my reasons for supporting Margaret Dugan is her refusal to accept money for the wasteful Federal School Lunch Program. My depression-era parents would have fainted dead away to see the kids offered three entrees of which they chose one. The other two are then thrown in the trash! Dugan replaced that program with the "Work for Food" program. An apple for the teacher!

This candidate answered more questions than I have time to relate, but here's her closing comment: "Every animal on the face of this earth can successfully teach their young what they want them to learn except for the human animal. That's because we don't know what we want our kids to learn." I have a feeling Margaret Dugan knows exactly what our kids should learn.