Our schools need a leader who will prioritize service to our children, schools, and communities. My vision for Arizona’s students and teachers derives from my years of experience as an educator in Arizona’s public schools. We can no longer rely on the same politicians who have wreaked havoc on our classrooms; we need those closest to the problem to come up with solutions.

Having worked in special education, I am acutely aware that our students have diverse backgrounds and know it is critical to meet the unique needs of every child. I intend to work tirelessly to move our state’s public education system forward into an exemplar of world-class public education that includes the Department of Education serving as an advocate rather than as an adversary.

Just like our schools, the Department of Education should include a balance of education professionals and experts in their field. Unfortunately, the behavior of the incumbent state superintendent has driven qualified staff away. We have the opportunity to bring back professionalism and recruit leaders with both executive and financial experience to ensure that the department is well functioning and properly allocating our tax dollars.

In my classroom and in my conversations at schools around the state, it’s clear the Department of Education has moved away from being an agency of service. Now more than ever, we need reliable, consistent assistance to our schools, teachers, and families. We must increase transparency at the department by making data more accessible and improving communication with the public. By doing this, we can reestablish the Department of Education as a trusted agency dedicated to our students and schools, not individual ideals.

To move Arizona’s public education system forward, I intend to build bridges, not burn them. In recent years, our state has seen that temperament and cooperation are critical factors for success in the role of state superintendent. Collaboration between stakeholders will be essential. Superintendent Diane Douglas notably failed to collaborate with the State Board of Education and isolated teachers when she threatened to punish them during the teacher walkout. Now my opponent has taken a similar stance by condemning the Red for Ed movement and spending his days bickering with teachers on Twitter.

These behaviors are unacceptable from anyone seeking to lead Arizona’s schools and show once again that we can’t count on the same divisive politicians to prioritize public education. I am committed to treating all educators — meaning everyone from our school psychologists, paraprofessionals, counselors, to our general education teachers — with the utmost respect.

Of equal importance, our education system needs a superintendent of public instruction to push the legislature to address Arizona’s devastating teacher shortage and funding crisis. That means passing policies that fully-fund our schools and ensure competitive pay for all educators including support staff. Additionally, I will advocate for creative solutions such as improved health-care benefits that attract young teachers to the profession and retain our veteran educators.

As I said, our schools need a leader who will prioritize service to our children, schools, and communities — and as state superintendent, that’s precisely what I’ll do. It will take collaboration and legislative support across party lines, but first I need your support. Help me prioritize our children’s future by casting your vote for Kathy Hoffman by Nov. 6.

Kathy Hoffman is a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction.