Kotterman began her career as a high school teacher in Illinois, before moving to Arizona to teach Special Education. She has also taught journalism and English, and taught students at all grade levels. She was president of the Arizona Education Association for six years, during which time she worked with governors Janet Napolitano and Jane Hull. She has long been a supporter of teacher accountability, and has helped shape policies that require teacher compensation to reflect performance. Kotterman was a member of the National Education Association’s Professional Standards and Practices committee, which develops NEA teacher performance policies, for six years.
Kotterman does not believe in what she calls “quick fixes” to education issues. Because of her close involvement with all levels of education, both as a leader and a teacher, Kotterman knows Arizona’s system from every angle. She has been involved in education for over twenty years, and knows how to use that experience to Arizona’s benefit. She plans to focus on improving teacher quality, student standardized test scores, and graduation rates. She believes music and art programs are extremely important in public schools, and opposes state budget cuts to education.
At a time when Arizona’s teen pregnancy rate is higher than ever, and politicians continue to oppose comprehensive sexual education, it is very important to elect a pro-choice superintendant to office. Arizona does not legally require sexuality education in public schools. If a district does decide to teach it, they must fulfill certain state requirements. Abstinence must be pushed as the socially acceptable form of behavior. Educators are not allowed to inform students of safe sex practices for gay and lesbian couples. Because sexual education is not required, the way it is taught varies greatly from school to school. In some districts, students are taught about condom use and birth control. In others, students are pressured to be abstinent and given little to no information about safe sex practices. In all cases, parental consent is required for a student to receive sex education.
Having a pro-choice candidate like Penny Kotterman in office could be instrumental in changing the way our state educates children. Arizona needs someone who will fight for a quality education for all children, regardless of district, and who will make sure teachers are evaluated based on performance, and not seniority.
Kotterman currently lives in Phoenix and is a member of the Career Ladder Advisory Committee, which is involved in programs that promote teacher skill improvement. She has also been endorsed by EMILY’S List, the Arizona American Federation of Teachers and Congressman Raul Grijalva, as well as many others.