Originally Published: September 14, 2017 6:01 a.m.
Area school leaders celebrate Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter’s leadership role as president of the state Board of Education because they know he gets it — education is too important to spend all the time quarreling and no time finding solutions.
They, too, praise him for his ability to collaborate with even those who share a different opinion or philosophy.
“I think Mr. Carter is an excellent choice for this role,” said Humboldt Unified School District Superintendent Dan Streeter.
Carter is knowledgeable about educational policy, as well as the “practical aspects of education,” Streeter said. Carter is adept at balancing those two while at the same time staying focused on “what’s best for children.”
“He has made a profound impact on education in our local areas, as well as at the state level, and will continue to serve as a voice for education in the state,” Streeter said.
The state board is the policy-making arm of the state Department of Education, and its role in past years has been marked with political machinations and controversy. The Republican educator, though, has maintained since his appointment in 2015 — he was not initially approved by the Senate due to political differences with one of its leaders — his sole goal is working to make sound education policy for all students across the state. No stranger to government, the four-decade educator now in his fourth elected term as the Yavapai County Schools superintendent is also an astute politician, said fellow education leaders. He knows how to navigate politics to get things done, they said.
“It gives me great hope that we have a true educator who cares very much about kids and the future of Arizona, and understands that we are lacking in Arizona and we do need to do a better job of supporting our kids,” said Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard. “Tim is not afraid to take on very tough projects,” Howard said.
One of those current efforts revolves around the controversial, federally mandated A-F grading system the board was charged to devise for all schools across the state.
“No one was willing to take that on as it’s a nearly impossible task to assign a letter to tell you how a school is doing,” Howard said.
Yet Carter did not shirk the duty, he said. Rather he opted to listen to a variety of constituents to come up with a plan that relies on far more than just standardized test scores.
He admires Carter’s willingness to take “bold” stands that he thinks could prove a national model.
“He always has what’s best kids in mind,” Howard said. “He’s a great advocate for us.”
In his career, Carter has earned many leadership accolades — in 2003 he was named Arizona School Administrator of the Year, in 2010 he was honored by Capitol Times as Educational Leader of the Year for Public Policy and in 2013 and 2014 was honored as the outstanding JTED/CTE Policy Maker of the Year. But Carter said that does not mean he is above criticism.
He said he knows not all state board decisions will be applauded.
With the diversity of the state, and all of the different types of schools that exist here, Carter admits the highly controversial A-F grading plan for all district and charter schools across the state that is expected to be unveiled later this month has proved a daunting task.
“No matter what we do no one will be happy with the final product,” Carter said.
The good news is that Carter said he sees the board building bridges within the state educational arena so that meaningful work can be done to benefit all the state’s children.
“Everyone has a stake in what happens, and what does not happen,” he concluded.