Incoming Arizona schools chief Tom Horne plans back-to-basics approach to learning

Nov 18, 2022, 11:30 AM | Updated: 11:50 am
(Tom Horne Photo)...
(Tom Horne Photo)
(Tom Horne Photo)

PHOENIX – Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Tom Horne said Arizona schools will operate differently on his watch, including renewed focus on academics and tighter discipline.

“Many [teachers] have complained to me they want to teach but they can’t because under social/emotional learning they have to play what they described as ‘dumb games’ with kids during their class period. That needs to end,” Horne told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Friday.

“We need to have teachers focus on academics and not have any diversions to other things,” he said.

Incumbent Democrat Kathy Hoffman conceded to the Republican former officeholder Thursday.

“She was very gracious in calling me and I do hope to have a good relationship with her,” Horne said of Hoffman.

“But there will be some changes. The test scores have not done well.”

Horne previously held the job from 2003 to 2011.

Another of the changes he’d like to see is English immersion in classrooms.

“The studies show us that the best way is to focus first on mastering English and then catching up on academics rather than sacrificing the knowledge of English in order to try to teach academics in the child’s language,” Horne said, although he didn’t cite specific research.

“They never really become proficient in English and then they fail in the economy.”

He also believes order in the classroom will help with teacher retention.

“When teachers leave the profession, they’re surveyed and the No. 1 reason for leaving, interestingly, is not salaries, that’s No. 2. The No. 1 reason for leaving is failure of support by administrations, especially with respect to discipline,” Horne said.

“I’ve always been an advocate of strict discipline in the schools because I think kids can’t learn if they’re not in an orderly classroom,” he said.

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Incoming Arizona schools chief Tom Horne plans back-to-basics approach to learning