Media

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Southern Arizona Sanctuary Movement Makes a Statement

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 3:22 PM

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Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and his campaign promise to deport as many undocumented immigrants as he can has helped give the nation's church-led sanctuary movement a rebirth. And it's fitting that Tucson, the birthplace of the modern sanctuary movement, should be involved.

Reporter Paul Ingram has an excellent article on the history of the modern sanctuary movement and its current activity in the Tucson Sentinel. That's where you should go for more details. Here are the first few paragraphs of his article.
With the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump just days away, religious leaders from 19 congregations in Tucson announced Wednesday that they were committed to "radical welcome," as part of a reborn Sanctuary movement determined to shelter refugees and unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

Nearly 100 people filled benches in the kiva-style sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church and listened as church pastor Rev. Allison Harrington announced that the church would join "Sanctuary Rising," a movement involving 700 religious congregations nationwide whose members agreed to buck several of Trump's proposed policies, including the immediate deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants.

Church members agreed to work against the incoming Trump administration's plan to create a "special deportation force" and quickly deport 2-3 million illegal aliens.

"As people of faith and people of conscience, we pledge to resist the newly elected administration's policy proposals to target and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and discriminate against marginalized communities," Harrington said, reading the pledge. "Tonight we come together in this new historical moment," she said. "And we commit ourselves to love and justice, and radical welcome."

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How Not To Read The Onion

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 9:54 AM

Reading the confused comments under The Onion articles is one of my favorite past times. Please enjoy these randomly chosen reactions of reading satire literally as much as I have.

The people who were appalled by SeaWorld's new specialty:
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The people who had some serious concerns about an ice lawsuit:

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Perfecting the intricacies of the frappuccino is truly a tricky business.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trump's Election Has Been Very Good For K12 Inc.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:10 PM

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The impending demise of K12 Inc., the for-profit online school corporation, has been an occasional source of schadenfreude in my posts. Online education as the sole source of schooling for K-12 students is a bad idea for all but a few people, and K12 Inc. needs millions of students, which requires a regular infusion of new students, to make a profit. The corporation's schools are failures by nearly every standard you can apply to them, and its stock prices have fallen steadily as a result. It had all the earmarks of a failing corporation, and I watched expectantly for it to crash and burn.

That changed November 9, the day after Trump's election. As you can see on the stock report at the top of the post, K12 Inc.'s stock price has soared since that fateful day. The Trump-era market is bullish on for-profit privatization in all its forms, including education.

Now, along comes Betsy DeVos as Trump's pick for Secretary of Education. DeVos is a champion of school choice—charters, vouchers and homeschooling. So long as it helps dismantle the school district model of public education (and where possible, promotes religious education), she's for it. In Michigan, DeVos' home state where she spends millions of dollars buying pro-school-choice politicians and setting up nonprofit advocacy groups, 80 percent of the charter schools are for profit, and accountability is kept to an absolute minimum. Even charter advocates complain that the Wild West approach to charters allows too many low quality Michigan schools to remain open.

But charter schools don't do well in sparsely populated areas where distances work against them. That's one reason DeVos and other school choicers support online education, where your "school" is always as close as your computer. Distance is no obstacle for distance learning, so online schooling opens up rural education markets.

We know DeVos held an "investment interest" in K12 Inc. before it went public, but we have no way of knowing if that continued. We may find out if she makes a full financial disclosure during her confirmation hearings.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Dollar a Day, and Other Observations About Ducey's Education Funding Proposal

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 2:39 PM

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Governor Ducey surprised me by proposing $114 million in new education funds for the upcoming state budget. That's $90 million more than I expected. According to Senator Steve Farley (D-Tucson), most of that comes from highway funds. Meaning, to paraphrase It's A Wonderful Life, every time a school bell rings, a roadway gets a pothole.

More than $100 million for education isn't nothing. It's not nearly enough (It moves us from 49th in per student spending all the way to . . . 49th), but it's a significant amount of money. Unlike last year when Ducey called money covering the increase in the number of students and inflation "new money"—that was a lie—this time, it's actually new money, above and beyond the required stay-even funding. We need to remember, however, this is only a proposed budget. The legislature passes the budget, not the governor. It's going to take some gubernatorial arm twisting to get the anti-"government schools" crowd to vote for all that new money. Don't be surprised if the final education budget comes in quite a bit lower. I hope no one is taking Ducey's money to the bank yet.

Let's take a look at how Ducey wants his proposed education funding to be spent.

His proposed teacher pay hike gets the most buzz, but it's only $13.6 million, compared to almost three times as much—$38 million—for "results-based funding." The pay raise comes to about a dollar a day, which is more of an insult to teachers than a pat on the back. It's wealthy, Cold Stone Stone Cold Doug Ducey saying, "Here's a crisp new dollar bill for each of you for the great work you're doing!" I hope he doesn't expect current teachers to go out of their way to thank him, or prospective new employees to flood school districts begging for one o' them high payin' teachin' jobs. Saying "I raised teacher salaries" makes for a great campaign pitch come reelection time, but a dollar a day doesn't put food on a teacher's table.

That $38 million for "results-based funding," on the other hand, is real money for those lucky schools that get a chunk of it. It's a third of Ducey's new money, and it will go to 10 percent of Arizona's schools. That comes to an average of more than $350 per student for each of the recipients, which is more than the $325 per student schools received from the Prop 123 money. All his other proposals are small ball stuff, but this one can have some big league consequences. It's enough for the schools to increase and improve their teaching supplies and technology and still have money left for significant teacher raises, all of which will make those schools more attractive to parents and teachers. And most of it will go to districts and charter schools educating the most privileged students. The main educational beneficiaries will be the current winners in the state's income inequality wars. To the victors go the "results-based funding" spoils.

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The Fake News Frenzy

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 10:50 AM

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The most recent presidential campaign has reignited many Americans' Facebook rants about "journalism these days," and how it's all turned into a biased, money-centered propaganda machine. No one could log into Facebook during the run up to the election without reading one or more lofty diatribes on why the candidate they support will be the next Messiah and how "the media" has a merciless vendetta against him or her.

Yes, news organizations all across the country missed an important mark while covering the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump by writing that Trump's victory was a "shock." I'd bet good money that many hard-core Trump supporters didn't share that same sentiment, so why was it spreading like wildfire in election night coverage?

Regardless, a generalized hatred for media coverage is unjustified. After all, journalists are the ones who maintain your Fourth Estate and are ultimately the glue that keep your democracy intact. I recently saw a tweet by Sarah Jeong, a contributing editor to the online publication Motherboard, that said, "Audiences say 'journalism' when they liked it and 'media' when they don't," which in my experience so far could not be more accurate. Journalists are undoubtedly a public pain in the derriere, but we're also an undoubtedly necessary one.
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As a budding journalist myself, I have seen these rants by my own peers and have taken them personally at times—even if it was aimed at a national outlet. While my youthful idealism is still somewhat intact (but diminishes a little more with every passing semester), I am not naive enough to deny that poorly-written and completely false reporting is still out there. It's out there more often than it should be.

The most recent outrage over the unvetted Russian dossier is a particularly painful controversy for those of us trying to save the reputation of reliable reporting. However, the overwhelming majority of news and journalism in the world is still fair and truthful, and it's a shame that the hysteria over fake news gets more spotlight time than the incredible, breakthrough work that reporters kill themselves for and sacrifice personal time and sleep for every single day.

For all the readers out there, I humbly ask you to hear my takeaway plea: keep an open mind about journalism and the news industry. Sure, it has flaws, but every other industry does too. How can the world expect improvements in our field if you don't even give us up-and-comers a chance to prove you wrong?

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 237—Talk Is Cheap Edition. Ducey's Funding-Lite, Destructive Education Proposals.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 9:00 AM

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  • Illustration from Photospin image
A few days ago I wrote that I'd try to suspend my disbelief and cynicism regarding the education proposals in Ducey's State of the State address until Friday when he releases some budget numbers. Couldn't do it. The generally positive reception of his ideas in the press has left a major hole in the analysis of his speech. I wrote that I liked most of what Ducey proposed, adding there are a few exceptions, but I didn't discuss the exceptions. Those bad ideas are either cost free or can be accomplished by rejiggering the current education budget—specifically his ideas to relax teacher certification rules and to give more money to "high achieving" schools—which means the worst of his education plans can be implemented on the cheap. It's time to look at them more closely.

Ducey laid out something like ten separate education-related proposals in his address. That leaves the impression that he's given the topic considerable thought and has laid out a comprehensive package of changes and reforms, but it also means he can pick and choose which items he plans to emphasize and implement. After all, who expects him to tackle all ten items during this legislative session?

While making his grandiose education proposals, Ducey said we shouldn't expect him to spend a lot of new money on education this year.
“Now, I’m not promising a money tree. There’s no pot of gold or cash hiding under a seat cushion."
Realistically, for him to be serious about enacting some of his most important proposals, like increasing the funding of schools, raising teacher pay and expanding full day kindergarten, the cost would begin at $100 million and move upwards toward $400-800 million. Meanwhile, most budget projections agree the governor has about $24 million in loose money to play with — the rest is accounted for—with lots of places those dollars can be spent. I suppose Ducey could free up a few more dollars with draconian cuts to other government agencies. But $100 million? $400 million? $800 million? Hardly.

We'll find out Friday, but I suspect Ducey will put a bit of money into the big ticket items as a down payment to show he's serious, then he'll push less expensive items he can enact with the willing support of Republican legislators.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Three (Maybe Four) Energy Stories From the News

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 9:06 AM

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If you go to to Friday's New York Times and AZ Star, you'll find these three energy-related articles:

Sensing Gains Ahead Under Trump, the Kochs Court Minorities. The Koch Brothers have begun a well-funded, new nonprofit business association, Fueling U.S. Forward, which is spreading the fossil fuels gospel to minority communities — almost literally, by funding gospel concerts where Hosannas are sung in praise of God, Coal, Oil and Natural Gas.

Arizona Corporation Commission urged to fix solar net metering 'grandfathering' issue. The ACC slashed the compensation rooftop solar owners will receive for excess energy generation that makes its way onto the grid. The ACC is being asked to improve one small part of a very bad decision by amending the grandfathering rules so people who submit their energy interconnection applications before the deadline will receive the current net metering compensation, as well as people who have their interconnections completed by the deadline. [Note: On Tuesday the ACC amended the rules to include those who submit applications before the deadline.]

China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020. China is funding a huge push to add renewables to its energy grid, both to lower its ridiculously high pollution levels and to try and dominate the world's growing renewable energy markets.

To sum up: U.S. cities have less pollution than they had decades ago and far less pollution than China's smog-choked cities, but courtesy of the expected pro-fossil-fuels, anti-regulation push from the Trump administration, we may slide backwards while China pushes forward. The Brave New Trump Era could harm our environment and our health while it slows our technological advances in the renewable energy arena and loses us potential business worldwide.

The headline for a fourth story from a few days ago reads, Arizona still a force in solar power, despite other states' gains. It's about our growing solar energy sector, which is second in the nation to California. Apparently, we're OK with private businesses setting up vast solar power arrays so they can make lots of money off our abundant sunshine, but we're not so OK with encouraging individual homeowners to fill unused space on their rooftops with solar panels by giving them fair compensation for the energy they produce. Corporate and home solar both reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but home solar can also reduce corporate profits, and that's just not the Arizona way.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 235 — State of the State Edition. Great Ideas! Terrific Ideas! Wallet Still Safely Stowed in Back Pocket.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 9:00 AM

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Loved the education part of Gov. Ducey's State of the State address—with a few exceptions, of course. Great stuff, mostly. Unfortunately, it'll take lots of money to accomplish even half of what Ducey proposed. Lots and lots of money. And he didn't commit dollar one.

My understanding is, the state is expecting to see about $24 million in revenue that's not already accounted for. Even if all that went to education, it only comes to about 7 percent of the $350 million a year voted in when Prop 123 passed, so it's not a hell of a lot of money. I've read that it'll cost the state about $20 million just to cover the extra costs from the minimum wage hike. And of course, education isn't the only area in dire need of additional funding, or the only sector Ducey made financial promises to. So that puny little $24 million, a tiny fraction of the state's nearly $10 billion yearly budget, will have to be stretched way beyond the breaking point for it to make any kind of a difference anywhere.

Here are some of the education proposals in Ducey's speech. As you read them, count the potential costs on your fingers and toes, with each digit worth $10 million. Warning: pretty soon, you'll need to start in on your neighbor's fingers and toes as well. It's gonna take a lot of "This little piggies" to get us all the way to market.
• Increase investment in public schools above and beyond inflation.
• Raise teacher pay.
• Pay down teachers' student debt.
• Create "Teacher Academies" at our universities and community colleges where prospective teachers' educations are paid for and teaching jobs will be waiting upon completion, debt free.
• Give a $1,000 signing bonus to teachers who commit to work in low-income schools.
• Expand full day kindergarten.
• Connect schools in rural areas and on tribal lands to high speed internet and create a statewide coding and technology initiative.
• Increase per pupil funding at excelling schools, with even more going to excelling schools with low income students.

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Staff Pick

HAXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES

Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns, and a satanic Sabbath: this legendary 1922 silent film uses a series… More

@ Loft Cinema Sun., Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m. 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

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