Arizona Sen. Sylvia Allen takes the oath of office during the opening day of the 52nd Legislature on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015 in Phoenix, AZ.(Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic)
One of the best-known lightning rods in the Arizona Legislature will now help shape the future of education.
Senate President Andy Biggs named Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. Allen replaces Kelli Ward, who resigned the Senate earlier this month to focus on her congressional run.
Allen is best known for her controversial public comments over the years. During a legislative hearing in 2009, she said the Earth is 6,000 yearsold, a belief held by "Young Earth" biblical creationists. In 2013, a Facebook post about chem-trailconspiracies gained widespread media attention, as did a March comment suggesting mandatory church attendance.
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Last year, Navajo County Sheriff K.C. Clark accused Allen of trying to interfere with a criminal investigation of her son-in-law.
Allen, who graduated from Snowflake High School and did not attend college, is co-founder of George Washington Academy, an EdKey, Inc. charter school in Snowflake.
As chairwoman, she will control which legislative education proposals succeed and which ones die.
Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, who had criticized Allen's church comment, said he looks forward to working with her on education issues.
"She's made some interesting comments to the public, but it's not like she's going to be teaching," he said. "We have accredited teachers for that."
He said Allen has always had an open door for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
"I think she'll do a pretty good job," he said.
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Allen in a statement said she will focus her efforts next session on teachers and parents.
“I want to highlight the incredible teachers who are the reason for our children’s success," she said. "I also want to focus on parents’ responsibility in their children’s education. They are a critical part of their children’s success. We need to encourage that involvement."
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