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EDlection2018: Arizona Superintendent Race Between Charter Advocate and Public School Educator Remains Too Close to Call

By Taylor Swaak | November 7, 2018

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

The Arizona superintendent’s race between a charter school proponent and public school educator remained too close to call late Wednesday afternoon.

Republican Frank Riggs has a less than 1 percent lead over Kathy Hoffman, a speech pathologist and former preschool teacher. ABC15 Arizona election results show Riggs fewer than 7,000 votes ahead.

ABC15 Arizona

Arizona is still counting nearly 650,000 votes statewide as of Wednesday, the Arizona Republic reported — which “could swing major races” like the superintendent’s race.

Hoffman tweeted Wednesday to her supporters that, “There are still votes left to count, and I want every voice for public education to be heard.”

The state superintendent of public instruction oversees all Arizona public and charter schools, and is a member of the Arizona Board of Education. It is largely a bully pulpit for influencing education policy.

Throughout the campaign, Riggs touted his deep ties to the charter school sector: As a former California congressman, he penned the Charter School Expansion Act in 1998 to allocate federal startup grants to newly formed charter schools. He’s also the founding board president of Arizona Connections Academy — a statewide, online K-12 charter school.

But that doesn’t mean he plans on shying away from critical oversight of charter schools. “You need to police your sector, and you need to call out your bad actors,” he told the Phoenix New Times. “Because if you don’t, you’re going to get regulation.”

Apart from charter reform, his education platform includes creating parent advisory boards and expanding civic education.

Meanwhile, Hoffman — like other educators this election cycle — capitalized on the momentum of this year’s #RedForEd movement, which spurred a weeklong Arizona teacher strike in late April. (Riggs opposed the strike; Hoffman participated.)

Her platform includes backing bilingual education programs, denouncing the arming of teachers, and advocating for paid maternity and paternity leave for educators.

At least half of the 12 teacher candidates The 74 interviewed before Election Day have lost their races. Read more on our liveblog.

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Whoever wins will replace Republican Diane Douglas, whom Riggs beat in the primaries.

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

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