Linda Thomas

Not sure why there must always be a winner and a loser in today’s world.  In his October 30th article, Richard Brinkley, Chair for the LD11 Republicans, (which he doesn’t disclose in his articles) touted the achievements of Jill Broussard, Pinal County Schools Superintendent.   Not surprising as Ms. Broussard is a Republican and was sourced to oppose the Democratic incumbent, Ms. Orlenda Roberts.  But, I’ve got to hand it to Ms. Broussard.  Despite a huge deficit of education and experience between Jill and her predecessor, she is holding her own.  In fact, I really like her.  She is energetic, charismatic, and appears to be open-minded and focused on doing the right thing for the children of Pinal County. 

But, Brinkley didn’t just talk about Ms. Broussard’s positives; he couldn’t resist smearing Ms. Roberts’ performance.  First, he quoted Broussard as saying the Mary C. O’Brien Accomodation school is doing better than regular school districts for the population is serves.  This is true; the school is designed specifically for that.  He conveniently left out the fact, that it was under Ms. Roberts’ leadership that this school went from an “underperforming” school to one with an “A” grade for the 2011/2012 school year. 

He then relates only part of the story by crediting Ms. Broussard for saving the county dollars by reducing “excess” Internet access.  At the time this capability was purchased, it was not excess.  When initiating the system, Ms. Roberts needed to ensure sufficient broadband to meet the high amount of interest initially expressed.  As it turned out, the requirements were less than initially indicated and Ms. Broussard was right to cut back.  No doubt her Ms. Roberts would have done the same. 

Next, he mentions the “questionable Common Core Standards” stretching the truth and capitalizing on the fervor surrounding this issue to infer Ms. Roberts “got us in this mess.”  It was not Ms. Roberts that adopted the Common Core Standards (Arizona College and Career Ready Standards), but the Arizona State Legislature in 2010.  Yes, Ms. Roberts purchased the software then dubbed the “Arizona Common Core Tool” software with “Race to the Top” dollars.  Her purchase (in bulk) of this critical software (which Brinkley goes on to say may be the one bright spot in Common Core) saved the county money and ensured the school districts’ free access.  It also allowed charter schools to access the system for a fee.  The revenue generated by these fees was to provide funding for software and hardware maintenance and pay for Professional Development Staff for district training.  Exactly what he appears to credit Ms. Broussard with.

I was sad when Ms. Roberts was not re-elected.  She is a very experienced, highly regarded educator who did wonderful things for Pinal County public schools.  Voters opted however, to give Ms. Broussard a chance, and I believe she is doing well.  As a leader in the military, I learned that there is always plenty of credit to go around.  Wish Mr. Brinkley would keep that in mind.

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