We’d been hearing good things about new Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent Denise Birdwell. Like her moxy and focus on the destination, not the journey. This stands in marked contrast to the recently departed David Peterson who etiolated the district. And when this became apparent even to him Peterson bailed on his fellow bureaucrats, actually blaming two women on the School Board desirous of more accountability. Remember when George H.W. Bush was famously called a wimp? Peterson took it to a whole new level. And to where did Peterson flee? A large construction contractor who contracted during his tenure to build millions of dollars worth of schools.
So, in many ways, Birdwell and the district have nowhere to go but up. And based on her recent comments in this Scottsdale Independent article about a proposed Basis charter school that has stirred up debate at 128th & Shea, north is exactly the direction Birdwell appears headed.
Birdwell didn’t just forcefully dispel some beliefs Scottsdale Unified was stoking opposition to a flagship campus for the top ranked charter school in the country, she destroyed them. Indeed, she basically said “bring it on.” We have always believed Scottsdale’s K-12 public schools offer the “ultimate choice.” Now it finally appears to have a leader to take that message forward.
More importantly, she showed character. That’s more than we can say in this instance for two of Scottsdale’s typically stout councilmembers: David Smith and Guy Phillips.
We recall (because they apparently don’t) that when sworn into office they committed to upholding the law. Not the ones they agree with, all the laws. We are particularly troubled by Tea Party Constitutionalist Phillips. He surely supports a strict constitutionalist to replace Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet, when it comes to honoring an unambiguous state law allowing this charter school to locate at this location Phillips goes all Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Fortunately, as Smith and Phillips posit politics ahead of principle and jeopardize Scottsdale taxpayers with litigation and loss the city has an impressive new leader in marked contrast.
Since we’ve picked a bit more on Phillips we’ll challenge the more learned Smith to read the famous passage below from A Man For All Seasons:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
We hope Councilman Smith gets what we’re trying to say. If not, a consult with Dr. Birdwell could be of some assistance.