Wednesday, October 26, 2016

For Buckmaster Show Listeners (and Others), My TUSD Board Picks, Once Again

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 11:20 AM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
I'll be on the Buckmaster Show today (Wednesday) at 12:30 p.m., talking with Bill about education. Bill and I decided not to talk about the TUSD board race, which is getting uglier by the minute, with one exception. I'll be stating my picks for the board, and I'll be telling listeners if they want to learn why I made those choices, they can check here.

So, here's a link to the post where I discussed my three picks: Cam Juarez, Kristel Foster and Betts Putnam-Hidalgo.

The Buckmaster Show starts at noon on KVOI, AM 1030.

Tags: , ,

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Which TUSD Board Candidates Favor Closing More Schools?

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 3:46 PM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
If you're looking for TUSD board candidates who support closing more schools, they're out there, but they're not Cam Juarez and Kristel Foster. Two, maybe two-and-a-half candidates have said they think closing more schools is a strong possibility, even a good idea. One, maybe one-and-a-half of them are supported by the independent expenditure campaign, TUSD Kids First. But Cam and Kristel have both said in no uncertain terms, they don't plan to vote for closing any more schools.

So why are we seeing yellow roadway signs paid for by TKF that say, "Foster + Juarez = Closed Schools," signs whose purpose is to lead voters to think if they vote for Foster and Juarez, they're likely to see more school closures? The answer is, TKF wants to confuse and confound voters by using a time tested, cynical disinformation strategy. If you or some of your chosen candidates are accused of wanting to close schools and the accusation has some validity, throw it back at your opponents. "I don't want to close more schools. You want to close more schools!" Voters don't know who to believe, so the issue, which could be a problem at the polls, is nullified.

Let me try to set the record straight on who is for closing more schools and who is not, using the candidates' own words to decide where they stand. Here's the breakdown:

• For More School Closures:
Brett Rustand, Rachel Sedgwick
• Against More School Closures: Kristel Foster, Cam Juarez, Betts Putnam-Hidalgo, Lori Riegel
• Both For and Against More School Closures: Mark Stegeman

As for TUSD Kids First, the evidence suggests strongly that its donors are in favor of more closures.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , ,

Monday, October 24, 2016

There's a New I.E. in the TUSD Board Race

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 1:00 PM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
The new signs on the roadways say "Stop Stegeman Now." They just showed up recently, and you'll only find a few of them scattered among the yellow "Change the Board" signs, which, based on my recent drive through town, make up about half the signage out there—not half the TUSD board race signs, half the signs, period.

The anti-Stegeman signs are paid for by a new independent expenditure committee, Protect Our Schools TUSD, which filed its papers with Pima County last week. We don't know anything about its finances since it didn't exist during the last reporting period, but if the amount of signage it's put up is any indication, it doesn't have anything like the $35,000 amassed by TUSD Kids First, which is responsible for the yellow signs blanketing the city. We'll get a better idea of its funding by the number of signs that go up before the election and by its sponsored presence on social media.

Protect Our Schools TUSD has two goals: to get rid of Mark Stegeman and to reelect Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez. The group's website explains the reasons for its choices in bold letters on the home page, but for some reason, it hides its "Want to learn more?" link way down at the bottom of the page rather than creating the usual navigation bar near the top.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Be a Voter! (Then Vote)

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 9:00 AM

  • Photo Illustration

One of the things I read as a young teacher which stuck with me was, be careful of your use of the verb "to be" when reprimanding a student. If a student lied to you, don't say, "You are a liar." Say something more like, "You told a lie." If a student cheated, don't say, "You are a cheater." Say something more like, "You cheated on that last test." If a student regularly disrupts class, don't say, "You are nothing but a troublemaker." Say, "I won't let you continue to disrupt class," or, "If you keep causing trouble in here, I will . . ."

The reason is, the statement "You are . . ." is very powerful. It is a statement of being, referring to your essential nature (I just checked to see where the word "essential" comes from. It's from the Latin "esse," "to be.") So if I say to a student, "You are a liar," I'm saying that lying is an essential part who that student is. If, on the other hand, I call a statement a lie, I'm dealing with one specific statement at one moment in that student's life, which means the student has the opportunity to stop lying by making a change in behavior, which is far easier than changing his or her essential nature.

It's probable that the other side of the "to be" coin is true as well: if you can get someone to identify with a positive trait by saying, "I am a . . .," you can increase the chance of that person acting on it.

I read a short piece recently that said people are more likely to vote if they consider themselves "voters," as in, "I am a voter," than if they say, "I vote." It cited a study indicating that people who accept the label of "voter" are more likely to cast their ballots than people who simply say they vote. It makes sense to me. If you think of yourself as a "bowler"—"Yeah, I'm a bowler"—you're more likely to hit the lanes than if you say, "Yeah, I bowl now and then." Bowling is part of something you are, not just something you choose to do when the mood strikes, when you have some spare time.

Bowlers bowl. Voters vote.

So I say, let's all be voters, people who act on that essential part of our being whenever the opportunity arises, which happens to be between now and Nov. 8—or a few days earlier if you mail in your ballot.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Friday, October 21, 2016

Will Hispanics Help Elect Hillary in Arizona? 'Nah,' Said Jan Brewer, 'They don’t get out and vote.’

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 3:12 PM

  • Courtesy of
Here's something to add to "Taco trucks on every corner" and "Nasty Women" on social media. "Jan Brewer says, Hispanics don't get out and vote."

Everybody's writing about Arizona right now, with Hillary looking like she's edging past Donald in the polls. If Hillary takes Arizona, that means a lot more than a few electoral votes. It could mean a purpling, maybe even a bluing, of the state. And one big reason would be an assertion by a growing number of Hispanics of their power at the ballot box.

Former Governor Jan Brewer says she's not worried.
Some Republicans dismissed the notion that Democratic-leaning Hispanics will become a significant enough force to tip the balance to Clinton.

“Nah,” former Arizona governor Jan Brewer said in an interview. “They don’t get out and vote.’’

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We Must Not Allow . . . Runaway Graduation Rates . . . to Create an Achievement Score Gap!

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 2:40 PM

George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson, Dr. Strangelove. - COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA.ORG
  • Courtesy of
  • George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson, Dr. Strangelove.

Kidding. I'm kidding with that headline about not letting runaway graduation rates lead to an achievement score gap. (Hat tip to General Buck Turgidson's "Mineshaft gap!" in Dr. Strangelove, starting at the 4 minute mark on the video.) It's great that graduation rates are on the rise across the country, hitting an all-time high of 83.2 percent. I hope that number keeps heading higher. But consider for a moment what increasing the number of students who stay in school until they graduate does to overall student achievement rates.

Since this country began, we've striven to increase our student enrollment rates. Universal K-12 enrollment has been our goal, and we're closer to it than ever before. But a consequence of keeping more students in school is that schools have a growing population of students who are less likely to be high achievers. True, some students drop out because of factors beyond their control, but often they leave because school isn't working for them. When you keep those reluctant students in school, you increase the student population which is likely to score low on achievement tests, and they're also likely to make up the largest population of behavior and attendance problems. Every time we work to hold onto a student in danger of dropping out, we increase our educational challenges.

In 1920, about 27 percent of high school-aged students were in school. In 1950, it was around 75 percent. It shot up into the 80s in 1960 and has inched up and down since then, until now it's in the high 80s or low 90s. (The percent of K-8 students has always been higher than for high school students, but it has followed a similar upward trend.)

Think about today's high schools, with all their well-documented problems. Then think about what they might be like if we kicked out 10 percent of the students—those who combined the lowest achievement scores with the lowest attendance rates and the highest rates of behavior problems. School achievement scores would shoot up, not because the remaining students were scoring higher but because the students whose scores were dragging down the average would be gone. Attendance rates would improve for the same reason. And classroom disruptions would become less frequent. School would be a bit more like the "good 'ol school days" some people reminisce about, when that "problem 10 percent" wasn't in school.

Continue reading »

Tags: , ,

Monday, October 17, 2016

NAACP Ratifies Resolution Calling For a Moratorium on New Charter Schools

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 3:11 PM

  • Shutterstock
Since the NAACP created a resolution, to be ratified at a later date, calling for a moratorium on new charter schools, it has run into all kinds of resistance. The expected pro-charter groups opposed the resolution, as did the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post.

This weekend, the NAACP approved the resolution. I sent a personal email congratulating the group on its courage, and took out a membership for the first time.

Black children, who make up 15 percent of the overall school enrollment, make up 25 percent of the charter school population. Clearly the schools are a popular option in black communities. But the NAACP's concern is that too many of the charters attended by black children "mirror predatory lending practices." I'm not sure the analogy works exactly, but the concept is accurate. If you want to find poorly run charter schools where the people who "own" them are out for a quick buck at the expense of the children, look at schools serving children from low income families, whether black, brown or white. It's tough to get away with offering shoddy education to the children of high income, well educated parents, but unfortunately, it's all too easy to stick the words "college preparatory academy" into the name of a school serving low income students and sell it as a way for children to get a better education than they get at their local public schools. As poorly as district schools sometimes serve their children, some charters do even worse.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Picks for the TUSD School Board: Cam Juarez, Kristel Foster, Betts Putnam-Hidalgo

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 11:54 AM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
Before I discuss my choices for the TUSD board, I want to make it clear that these are my personal picks. The Weekly will make its endorsements sometime in the future, and I have no input in those decisions.

I want to see Cam Juarez and Kristel Foster reelected to the board because I believe TUSD should continue in the direction it is heading, which is mostly positive—though it's clear, of course, that there are areas in need of improvement which they and the district must focus on and address. I want Betts Putnam-Hidalgo to serve on the board because she will be a source of informed, intelligent dissent. Though I often disagree with Betts—not so much in what she wants for the district as the way she wants to go about it—her input will promote valuable discussion of difficult issues, pushing the board to make decisions which will help move the district forward. I agree with all three candidates in their overall beliefs in promoting progressive ideas regarding social and educational issues.

It would be foolish not to recognize that Tucson's school district has areas of weakness, many of them longstanding. Superintendent Sanchez and the three board members who generally support him have made progress in addressing some of the issues facing the district, but there is obviously more that needs to be done. However, these problems are not unique to TUSD, nor can they be fixed easily.

I spend a great deal of time and effort keeping up with what's going on in education across the country. Over and over, I read about districts with glaring problems and passionate, vocal critics. Most of them are in urban centers with large minority populations. That shouldn't be a surprise. The problems facing our urban centers are of a magnitude and complexity you rarely find in other parts of the country, and the problems extend far beyond the realm of education. In that context, it shouldn't be surprising that TUSD, which is in a reasonably large city and serves a majority-minority student population, has its share of challenges and a wide range of critics.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Staff Pick

The Estrogen Hour: Bewitched!

The Estrogen Hour, a celebration of women in comedy, returns to Laff's benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma… More

@ Laffs Comedy Caffé Sun., Oct. 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 2900 E. Broadway Blvd.

» More Picks

Submit an Event Listing

Popular Content

  1. The Weekly List: 25 Things To Do In Tucson In The Next 10 Days (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Win Tickets to the Chiles, Chocolate & Day of the Dead Festival (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. We Made One-Fifth of a Lotería Deck For You (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. Which TUSD Board Candidates Favor Closing More Schools? (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. Our Spoiled State Firing and Hiring System (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

© 2016 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation