Blogislature

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

TUSD Suspense Continues

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 5:33 PM

Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, postponed for the second week in a row publicly discussing an agenda item which brings into question the Superintendent H.T. Sánchez's job. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, postponed for the second week in a row publicly discussing an agenda item which brings into question the Superintendent H.T. Sánchez's job.

The Duffy Community center was overflowing with concerned parents, public officials and community members, weighing in on the work of TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sánchez.  At the special TUSD Governing Board meeting Tuesday night, many spoke in support of and against the superintendent. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • The Duffy Community center was overflowing with concerned parents, public officials and community members, weighing in on the work of TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sánchez. At the special TUSD Governing Board meeting Tuesday night, many spoke in support of and against the superintendent.
The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board announced last night they were once again postponing the agenda item concerning Superintendent H.T. Sánchez’s job.

The Duffy Community Center was so packed that overflow crowds had to wait outside. For over three hours, the board and superintendent were in executive session. At about 7:45 p.m., Sánchez somberly took his seat with the board and was met by loud applause from the audience. But not everyone was clapping.

For an hour, community members spoke for and against Sánchez with either raised-voice rancor or grateful tears on topics such as superintendent turnover rates, student-enrollment numbers, Prop 301 spending, childhood bullying, dropout rates, race and unsuccessful desegregation measures.

Several people spoke in Spanish with an English translator, accounting times Sánchez had personally helped their children.

Cassandra Becerra, a mother of TUSD students, is one of Sánchez’s supporters. While waiting for the meeting to start, she told the Tucson Weekly she’s seen the superintendent in the schools and fighting for the good of the district.

“I strongly believe he’s here because he cares about this district,” she said, holding a sign with a red, white and blue drawing of Sánchez, copying the iconic “hope” poster representing Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

TUSD Sideshow

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Tucson Unified School District's newest board member Rachael Sedgwick stirred controversy by adding an agenda item to Tuesday's regular TUSD Governing Board meeting.  The item, bringing Superintendent H.T. Sánchez's job into question, will be heard at a special meeting next Tuesday. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Tucson Unified School District's newest board member Rachael Sedgwick stirred controversy by adding an agenda item to Tuesday's regular TUSD Governing Board meeting. The item, bringing Superintendent H.T. Sánchez's job into question, will be heard at a special meeting next Tuesday.


The TUSD Superintendent’s job is still at risk, although discussion of it was absent from Tuesday night’s board meeting.

The crowd of more than a hundred people cheered at the beginning of Tucson Unified School District’s regular board meeting when the controversial item was removed from the agenda. For an hour and a half, one after the other, community members stood at the podium to thank Superintendent H.T. Sánchez and commend the work he’s doing with the district.

Nonetheless, a special meeting has been called for Tuesday, Feb. 21, where the question of Sánchez’s job will be back on the agenda, according to Rachael Sedgwick, the board’s newest member.

At the Feb. 14 meeting, 20 people spoke in support of the superintendent and three in opposition.
Community member Brian Flagg said Sánchez is present at school events and people like him.

“He brings his family, he hangs out, and he talks to people until the last person leaves—and he does it in Spanish,” he said. “I think the guy’s got real popular support.”

On Tuesday, the board received more than 75 emails in support of the superintendent and two in opposition, according to Board members Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster. Supporters of Sánchez include Michael Varney, President of the Tucson Metro Chamber, and Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.
Sedgwick, who put the item on the agenda, would like to see Sánchez make some changes but says it’s apparent he’s not open to working with her.

“It’s really not about firing H.T.,” she said. “It's really is about exploring the different opportunities and giving him a choice.”

She would like to see the board create a performance plan to assess progress the superintendent makes with the district. In particular, Sedgwick is concerned with enrollment numbers, standardized testing scores, AP scores, graduation rates and drop-out rates.

Sedgwick also thinks Sánchez spends too much time at the Arizona Legislature.

“The superintendent’s job is really not to be lobbying the legislators in Phoenix,” she said. “I believe the superintendent does not visit the schools very often and that it means that we, as a district, have sort of lost sight about the reasons that TUSD exists.”

Sánchez could not be reached for a response.

Sedgwick says she has the backing of Board member Mark Stegeman and that Board President Michael Hicks is open to discussion.

Other board members think bringing the superintendent’s job into question right now distracts the board from more important things and opens them up to possible legal problems.

“What we’re doing here is a side-show circus,” Grijalva said. “If I’m a parent of a kindergartner or someone who’s coming from a charter school and looking for a middle or high school for my child, why would I pick TUSD? Because all I see in the headlines is this drama.”

Foster says terminating the superintendent with no backup plan is a dangerous decision, and putting that option suddenly on the agenda is not the way to solve a problem.

“We’re, right now, in the middle of a legislative session, trying to advocate on behalf of public education,” Foster said. “This shows absolutely no understanding of what we do as public officials that represent a school district.”

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Learn About the Pros and Cons Behind Prop. 123

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization will host a debate about the fervently discussed, Gov. Doug Ducey-sponsored Proposition 123 this Saturday, April 9 at St. Odilia Catholic Church parish hall. 
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The proposition, which voters will decide in a state-wide election on May 17, would "increase education funding by $3.5 billion over the course of 10 years by allocating money from the general fund and increasing annual distributions of the state land trust permanent funds to education," according to Ballotpedia.com. The Arizona Daily Star reports that the lawsuit was originally filed back in 2010 after the state "failed to adjust the base level per-pupil funding according to inflation as required by a 2000 voter-approved proposition." 

Supporters of Prop 123 say it would fulfill a long-overdue debt to Arizona schools, while opponents—notably led by Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWitt—say the state land trust money in question already belongs to the state's schools, according to the debate's press release. 

"The Debate on Prop. 123" on Saturday will feature four speakers—two arguing for the passing of Prop. 123, and two against it. Phoenix natives J.P. Twist, Let's Vote Yes Prop. 123 chairman, and Andrew Morrill, Arizona Education Association president, will argue in support of Prop. 123, while Tucson natives Morgan Abraham, No Prop. 123 chairman, and Brian Clymer, a local attorney, will argue against it. 

The debate starts at 3 p.m. and will run until 4:30 at 7570 N. Paseo del Norte. Learn more about Prop. 123 here


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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tucson Might Look Into Mandatory Paid Sick Leave, But the Arizona Restaurant Association Isn't Happy About It

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 10:48 AM

If only it were as easy as hanging up your apron and taking a sick day. - CAGI
  • cagi
  • If only it were as easy as hanging up your apron and taking a sick day.
It's a scenario most of us are familiar with: you're working at a restaurant or two or three, trying to make enough money to get through college or life in general, and flu season hits. One of your coworkers is out of town, the other is also sick and another just won't answer their phone. Even if they did answer, it's not like you can afford to lose out on tip money for the day. So, you go in, try your best not to cough on someone's quesadilla and hope the six or so hours of sleep you get after is enough for your body to repair itself. Not only is this a germ nightmare when food is involved, it's also unfortunately common when you work for an employer that doesn't offer paid sick leave.

Well, during today's study session for Tucson's City Council, which begins at 1 p.m., officials will be looking into a proposal to change it so all employers will be required to offer paid sick leave. According to supporting materials for the day's session, four states and 20 cities already have put measures into place to ensure earned sick and safe time is offered. 
 



"The purpose of these laws is to assist all workers in addressing their own health and safety needs and the health and safety needs of their families by requiring employers to provide a minimum amount of earned sick time, including time for the care of family members. Under Arizona Revised Statutes Section 23-364(I), the City of Tucson has authority to prescribe employee benefits related to earned sick time within the boundaries of Tucson." 

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Friday, January 2, 2015

TUSD Found in Violation of State Law

Posted By on Fri, Jan 2, 2015 at 5:11 PM

John Huppenthal, who is serving his final days as Superintendent of Public Instruction, notified Tucson Unified School District that it is in violation of A.R.S. §15-112.

The law in question prevents schools from promoting resentment towards a particular race among other, overthrowing the United States government, and advocating ethnic solidarity over treatment of people as individuals. If the TUSD is not found in compliance with the law by March 4, the Arizona Department of Education could decide to withhold 10 percent of the monthly apportionment of state aid each month until the violations are corrected.

From the press release:
“After a thorough review of materials from TUSD’s culturally relevant courses, I find that the district has failed to meet several provisions of the 2012 Settlement Agreement settlement and is once again in clear violation of A.R.S. §15-112. Furthermore, I am deeply concerned by the fact that the noncompliance appears to extend beyond classes taught from the Mexican American perspective and now also includes classes taught from the African American perspective.

“ADE staff has worked tirelessly to provide guidance and feedback as quickly as possible throughout the process so that district officials would have the resources needed to keep all culturally relevant courses in compliance with the law. This process has been made challenging by the fact that the district has failed to fully respond to several requests for information and has been inconsistent in its application of materials that have been provided.

“In issuing this finding before classes resume, I am hopeful that the district will take immediate action to comply with the law.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Yahoo! Pits Tucson Against Phoenix For its Sick Pleasure

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM

The ongoing cultural war between Tucson and Phoenix has been taken from the streets to the failing web portal known as Yahoo!. The idea of having this conversation with a Phoenician makes the hair on the back of my neck stand. No one ever wins the discussion, but we do it anyway.

Worst picture for the Phoenix vs Tucson argument.
  • Worst picture for the Phoenix vs Tucson argument.

Leave it to Seattle author Christy Karras to write the Yahoo City Smackdown: Phoenix vs Tucson. Karras does a good job, and brings up some interesting facts that I didn't know about both cities (Did you know that Orange is the New Black's Taryn Manning is from Tucson? I fucking love that show). But was it too hard to find someone that actually resides in Arizona? 
Specialty Cuisine: Tucson is as close as you’ll get to really authentic Mexican food north of the border. The Mexican here isn’t Southwestern; it’s Sonoran. And it’s often dirt cheap. Try Paco’s, El Sur, El Güero Canelo, BK’s, or Poco & Mom’s. Try Sonoran hot dogs, a local specialty: They’re wrapped in mesquite-smoked bacon, grilled, and topped with beans, onions, tomatoes, and condiments ranging from mayonnaise to Jalapeño salsa. Olé!
She talks about the modern streetcar, San Xavier, Sonoran dogs and UA sports, of course. I would have mistaken her as a Tucsonan if I didn't know she was based out of the Emerald City. Honestly, she makes good arguments for both sides, and paints a pretty picture for the red headed step sister of the north.
Must-Do Nightlife: Bar-hopping along the Fourth Avenue Historic Shopping District (also home to an eclectic collection of locally owned shops and restaurants) is a time-honored tradition. Grab an “adult snowcone” at Che’s Lounge, pay homage to America’s largest tiki head at The Hut, or see a drag show at IBT’s. If nerd chic is your thing, head to Sky Bar: solar powered by day and an astronomy-themed bar by night, complete with telescopes.
Obviously, the Old Pueblo layeth the smacketh-down on Phoenix by taking 87% of the votes since Wednesday. Granted, there has been 1078 votes since writing this. We take our victories where we can get them.

Am I right, Tucson?


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Monday, June 9, 2014

In Which I Discuss The Nature Of Blogging

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 4:30 PM

shutterstock_146831111.jpg
  • Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

I truly love the comments on my posts, including the ones from people who disagree with me. I often read them multiple times. Lots to learn from both sides of the argument. That being said, some people without much to say figure they're making a point by commenting about my failings rather than the issue at hand. Why did you write a post about someone else's post? Run out of things to say? All you do is trash BASIS. Don't you have anything better to do?

Then there are those commenters who figure it's really gonna hurt if they call me a lousy journalist, and, furthermore, The Weekly is really going downhill by letting this miserable excuse for a journalist write on its website.

Here's the thing. I'm not a journalist. Don't pretend to be. I'm a blogger. I write on a blog. There's not a clear, bright line between journalism and blogging, but they're two distinct forms, with some overlap. Here's how I see the basic difference.

Someone once said, "Journalism is the first rough draft of history." Well, blogging is the first rough draft of journalism.

What good journalists tend to do is gather a big stack of information on a subject they're writing about — pulling together background, attending events, doing interviews, that sort of thing — then figure out how to pare all that material down to a story of reasonable length that captures the subject as well as they can. Tomorrow, things may change, but the story is supposed to give the reader an honest look at what's happening on a given issue at a given moment.

What a blogger like me usually does is take one or two pieces of the data journalists find in their pile of information and write about it. There's no attempt to cover the topic thoroughly like a journalist does, though sometimes that happens. It's me saying, "Hmm, this looks interesting to me, you may be interested too," or "You may not have thought of this topic this way. Let me explain how I see it."

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Friday, March 28, 2014

UA Struggles to get Funding for Veterinary School

Posted By on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 8:31 AM

PHOENIX — Sen. Steve Pierce (R-Prescott) stood up on the Senate floor last week and attempted to get $4.2 million for the University of Arizona to start a veterinary program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Shortly after he finished talking, the nay votes overwhelmed the yeas, and the amendment was voted down.

In his office, Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) who has his two University of Arizona diplomas hanging behind his desk, remains on a mission. Early in the week Orr, a former associate professor at the university, thought he could get the funding from the House, despite the lack of success of veterinary appropriations in the Senate. But later this week, the House only agreed to give the university $3.5 million for Cooperative Extension support. Without the support of the House and Senate, Orr will have to come up with some other way to squeeze the money he wants to create the University of Arizona’s first veterinary school and surgical program — before the budget is finalized.

But the legislative appropriations game is only part of a bigger conversation surrounding the proposed veterinary program — one between two veterinarians, Dr. Shane Burgess, the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Dr. Wayne Anderson, of the Arrow Service Groups of Animal Hospitals, a co-op of veterinary hospitals in the Phoenix area.

Anderson says he has letters from over 30 private practices in the state, all of which state that they don’t support a veterinary school program for the university. But if you talk to Burgess (or Orr, or any other supporter of the program) they’ll tell you that the University of Arizona, as a land-grant university, has a responsibility to its citizens to create this program.

“We take this very seriously in my college; our job is to do whatever we can to benefit the state,” Burgess said. “My job is to do whatever I can to improve the state’s economy by improving the number of jobs, by improving the incomes of the private businesses, and by making our state a better place to live for everybody.” In Burgess’ view, that means giving Arizona students a better opportunity to become veterinarians — but with rising costs in tuition throughout the country, it also means creating a program that would minimize costs.

Currently, a program called the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education allows for Arizona students to pay in-state tuition to out of state schools in return of the students spending at least four years working in Arizona after they graduate.

“Even with that, a lot of veterinarians I know still leave with like a hundred grand in debt after veterinary school,” said Chris Cromwell said, a junior who is a veterinary sciences student at the University of Arizona. “Really, there in no cheap option for veterinary students in general, but especially veterinary students in Arizona.”

Most of the veterinary schools in the country are state schools and typically admit more in-state students than out of state students, which doesn’t leave much room for Arizona students like Cromwell.

To help Arizona students, Burgess has two ideas. One is to streamline the program, providing six different entry points into the program. The other is to use the resources that the university already has, including a distributive education model that would place students in clinics throughout the state.

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Staff Pick

Frida: Portraits by Nickolas Muray

Tucson Botanical Gardens and Etherton Gallery are collaborating to bring the photography show Frida: Portraits by Nickolas… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Oct. 10-May 31, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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