Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidate David Garcia on His Opponent

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

“I don’t understand why you’re interviewing David Garcia,” a friend of mine told me earlier this summer when she learned that I was doing so. “I mean — wait. I understand why you’re interviewing him and not someone else — but I don’t understand why you’re interviewing someone for superintendent of public instruction for Planned Parenthood.”

Though I didn’t have the words to express it in the moment, I have had a lot of time since the first interview to ponder the idea.


“We must end the dismantling of our public schools and instead reinvest and prioritize public education …”


Essentially, the conclusion I’ve come to is this: Planned Parenthood supports high quality education for everyone. When I go to a Planned Parenthood health center, knowledgeable professionals treat me with respect as a person, provide me with accurate and comprehensive information, and work with me to evaluate and apply that information to help me make the choices that are best for me.

Applied to students, teachers, and schools, that is basically David Garcia’s campaign platform in a nutshell. By getting away from our over-dependence on standardized testing — a setup where “teaching to the test” and leading students toward testing companies’ supposed “right answers” is heavily rewarded — educators can foster curiosity and critical thinking skills that give students a framework for seeking out and evaluating information in unfamiliar circumstances. While I hesitate to use “teacher clichés,” that really is a life skill that translates across multiple areas of life — from choosing a college (or other form of post-secondary pursuits) to re-evaluating a career move, from choosing a contraceptive method to evaluating whether an intimate partner relationship is showing signs of abuse. The skill is the same; it’s only the context that’s different.

And all of that is the antithesis of Diane Douglas’ positions.  Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Garcia for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.”  Make your voice heard in 2014!

In his campaign for the statewide office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. David Garcia has declared that he will work for innovation in Arizona’s public schools. Backed by appropriate resources — including positive leadership and responsible funding — this would provide better future opportunities to all Arizonans. Included is his commitment to ensure that students are getting the comprehensive, relevant information they need to best make decisions about all aspects of their lives.

As a public high school teacher, I know that my students’ sexual and reproductive health care education is an integral part of their overall education and empowerment. For instance:

  • If I never have another student ask me, “Miss, do you need to be a certain age to buy condoms?” or, “Where can I buy a pregnancy test?” — it will be too soon.
  • In my decade of teaching, I have seen more and more students being comfortable openly identifying as gay — and that’s awesome. But certain portions of our health curriculum, by law, do not allow health teachers to say that being gay is OK — or to give these students the complete and accurate information that is necessary to ensure their sexual health and safety.
  • I have had too many students who were abused as younger children and simply never had the correct words — in terms of consent, in terms of bodily autonomy — to name the wrong for what it was. Consequently, the abuse was long-lasting and the healing slow in coming.

When we empower our children to feel secure in their bodies and their identities, we empower them to pursue their educations, goals, and ambitions. In that light, I am pleased that PPAA has endorsed a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction — because who we have in that office matters — and even more pleased that they endorsed David Garcia.

Dr. Garcia was kind enough to take the time for this interview on July 25, 2014. Please also check out our followup interview with Dr. Garcia, in which he spoke to us in more detail about his opponent in the general election, Diane Douglas.


“Planned Parenthood Advocates has taken a bold stance on changing state level leadership. I greatly admire and respect an organization that has the courage to call out policymakers not working for the greater good of Arizonans.”


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve devoted my career to improving public schools because I believe public education is the great equalizer in society and the reason I obtained the American Dream.

My dad was a commercial painter and my mom a factory worker. I grew up in Mesa, in a neighborhood where my parents still live. I wasn’t a great student, and it took enlisting in the Army for me to turn my life around and get serious about school. After the Army, I attended Arizona State University, becoming the first in my family to graduate from college. I went on to earn a doctorate in education policy studies from the University of Chicago. Continue reading