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Guest Commentary

Alexander: Scottsdale school board member’s focus strays from core education issues


Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board member Amy Carney campaigned last fall — smartly and effectively in a crowded field — by steering clear of culture controversies and outrage politics.

Carney the candidate won her election by emphasizing our shared goals regardless of our political or moral differences: “Our focus should be on the core academic subjects of reading, writing, math, and science — and ensure our students have the skills they need to succeed and excel in school and life.”

We agree that Carney should focus on core education issues. Instead, Carney spent her first month in office appearing on Fox News, the Conservative Circus and other alt-right podcasts promoting controversial cultural topics.

Divisive ideology and partisan politics is exactly what our parents and teachers don’t want from our school board. As Carney herself lamented on Oct. 13, 2022: “The governing board continues to make headlines regarding parental concern over divisive content and biased curricula in some of our schools.”

Ironically, Carney just recently started a roaring controversy on her Facebook page by diving into transgender policy. Carney also put Superintendent Scott Menzel on blast over an interview he gave way back when Tom Brady was still playing in Boston.

Menzel’s interview was discussed openly in June of 2021 in a Facebook page where Carney was an active participant. Why is Carney lighting a fire over old news that was thoroughly vetted during Menzel’s interview process? Carney, her donors, and her campaign handlers were well aware of the 2019 Menzel interview in June of 2021. It seems Carney strategically waited until she was in office to re-start an old squabble.

On cue, state Representatives Joseph Chaplik and Alexander Kolodin, and state Senator John Kavanagh picked up Carney’s cultural billy-club and swung it at Menzel. All three are outspoken advocates for school privatization, making their comments even more obvious as a political tactic rather than a genuine offense. The choreographed right-wing umbrage continued when former Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane came out of retirement to express outrage.

Ironically, Lane has been utterly silent as his liberal successor David Ortega systematically undoes Lane’s 16-year-legacy of growing Scottsdale as a pro-business, pro-job market-driven engine for Arizona’s economy.

Carney’s strongly held Christian beliefs are well-known from her time as an author and activist, and we fully support her right to her beliefs. But as a board member, she needs to honor her campaign promises and avoid the very controversies that inspired her to run for office.

Carney said on Sept. 13, 2022: “I want to see more funding go to our quality teachers and expand programming for developing our students’ life skills that will help prepare them for the workplace.” We couldn’t agree more with this goal. Amy Carney needs to keep her focus on her duty to represent the district on the topics that matter: budgets, teacher retention, and academic achievement.