Thursday, July 28, 2016

TUSD Enrollment, 2000 to 2016, Part 2

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 2:35 PM

In my last post, I put up a chart, which I also included here, showing the decline in enrollment numbers at TUSD from 2000 to the present. The short takeaway from the chart is, the district's enrollment declined slowly, averaging 350 students a year, from 2000 through 2007. Then the decline almost quadrupled, averaging 1,600 students a year, through 2012. Since then, the decline has slowed. The 2015-16 school year had the smallest decline, 417 students, in eight years.

I decided to pore over data for the 16 years in greater detail, looking at enrollment numbers from the beginning and the end of the school year and grade by grade, to see if I could find any trends worth noting. I did, and in the rest of the post, I'll describe some of what I found. I'm going to restrain myself from drawing too many conclusions from the data. I make a few observations at the end, but really, there are far too many variables at work here for me to tease out clear causes and effects. [Note: I'm going to try and make things as clear as possible, but I'm comparing lots of numbers, which always makes for slow reading, and this isn't the kind of writing I normally do. I'll do the best I can.]
I chose to use the figures from the 175th day for the end-of-the-year numbers because that's either the end of the school year or close to it, depending on the year, and the numbers for that day have fewer random ups and downs than other days. I also looked at student numbers on the 20th day, which is when things settle down after the first month's enrollment changes, so it's a reasonable place for a beginning-of-the-year count.

Looking at the enrollment on the 20th and the 175th day each year, I found, not surprisingly, that every year, TUSD had fewer students at the end of the year than at the beginning, which I suspect is true in other districts. For the 16 years from 2000 to the present, TUSD's average decrease from the beginning to the end of the year was about 1200 students.Only three years had decreases of less than 950 students: 2009-10 (915) and both of the last two school years, 2014-15 (920) and 2015-16 (582). That means that the during the last two years, holding onto students for the entire school year had a significant role in slowing the overall decrease of students. 

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Review: Hillary’s America: the Secret History of the Democratic Party

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 8:59 AM

Author and film maker Dinesh D’Souza’s latest film opened nationwide last Thursday. It is a history lesson in two parts.

It starts with a short and somewhat creepy sequence of swirling cartoon representations of different Democrat politicians to the tune of “Happy Days are Here Again”. The movie then begins with a re-enactment of the sentencing phase of D’Souza’s trial for violation of campaign finance laws. This was the beginning of part one.

Yes, it’s true, Dinesh D’Souza had a friend who was running for office to whom he donated $20k. So far, so good, but he then had a third party donate another $20k which was reimbursed by D’Souza. He was charged with a felony. His lawyer said that this sort of case is common and that nobody suffers a felony and that he would get it reduced for him. After some time, his lawyer told him that the court was not budging, he could not get the charge reduced, and that somebody must really want to get him. This took place after the D’Souza movie 2016: Obama’s America which was critical of the president. He pleaded guilty to the felony and was sentenced to five years probation, eight months in a "community confinement center," eight hours a week of community service during the probation, and a thirty thousand dollar fine. It was sort of a “Lite” version of G.Gordon Liddy’s sentence of 20 years in prison (commuted to eight years by President Carter) for a first offense breaking and entering where nothing was stolen—his punishment for not co-operating with Democrats after the Watergate fiasco.

After the courtroom scene, there was a humorous sequence showing his induction to the "community confinement center" and getting used to the company of hardened criminals. He began to learn about the criminal subculture which had been totally foreign to him. Through speaking with his fellow inmates, he distilled the four major aspects of the criminal enterprise: 1, Develop a plan; 2, Recruit; 3, Make the pitch; 4, If caught, always deny, never give up the con. He uses his newfound understanding of criminality as a framework for explaining the success and ultimate goal of the Democrat Party.

D’Souza dived back in history to the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the Democrat president who drove Native Americans off their land onto reservations, then sold the land cheaply to buy votes. The Republicans fought against the plan, but the Democrats got it passed. He proceeds through history to the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan, lynching, big city political machines, Margaret Sanger, and finally debunking the claim that Republicans under Nixon decided to appeal to Southern racists and that is why black people turned to the Democrats after the racists in the party became Republicans. It was given the term, “The Southern Strategy.”

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday at the DNC

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 5:00 PM

  • There are some inherent difficulties in covering this type of event which I’ve had to learn about the hard way. The physical space itself presents a huge challenge. There are several miles between the protests downtown and the Wells Fargo Arena, site of the convention proper and additional daily protesters numbering in the thousands. The physical separation is compounded by the paucity of available parking spaces and extreme downtown congestion. Which is all a way of saying this entire undertaking is an eye-opening experience with regards to what journalists accomplish with limited resources and only so many hours in a day and impatient editors and troll infested comment sections. Reporting is not easy, and the people who practice the art well should be applauded, not penned up in the back of a rally and ridiculed. Yes, it all comes back to Donald Trump. No, I am not including myself in the group of people to applaud. I clearly have no idea what I’m doing.

  • Downtown Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon saw a great deal of energy being expended by those deeply opposed to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Many people I talked to yesterday were offended by the behavior of the Democratic National Committee. Fair enough: the DNC acted rather childishly and made some silly remarks during their email game of insider baseball. Perhaps more energy should be expended on investigating the possibility that Russia is attempting to decide the outcome of a US Presidential election and Donald Trump’s financial ties to Vladimir Putin and his council of oligarchs. This Russian connection to the DNC email leak story is being reported by outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times. Surely this is the story, not the election meddling of Debbie Wasserman-Schulz. There is absolutely no question that if this story was about Hillary Clinton and her ties to the Russian government, all hell would break loose for her campaign. Donald Trump has a remarkable ability to skirt by untouched even as he leaves scorched earth in the rearview mirror. The issue of the Russians may prove to be the end of the road for his lightly scrutinized sordid past and present dealings.

  • Wednesday has been incredibly tranquil compared to the first two days of the DNC. There are very few protesters out in the downtown area. The reasons for this probably have quite a bit to do with the energy of pro-Bernie supporters. Their fervor has been dampened considerably by events inside the convention. Hillary has the nomination, and Bernie encouraged a simple roll call vote to get the thing done. All of this feels like an ending to the largest protests, but Thursday may prove differently. As of now, there are no major crowds downtown. Sporadic protests and marches, individuals showing dissent or assent for various issues and candidates, but nothing in the way of mass demonstrations. Thursday will prove an interesting coda to the convention season. 
  • All of this placidity downtown led Jimi and I to make our way to Osage street in west Philadelphia, site of the firebombing of the MOVE compound by the city of Philadelphia in 1985. MOVE is a black liberation group founded by John Africa in 1972. The group is known for communal living and actions taken to protest and combat systemic racism within city government. In 1978 a standoff occurred between MOVE and city police which led to the death of an officer and the imprisonment of nine members of the group. By 1985, tension between MOVE and various city officials and departments reached some kind of tipping point. A standoff developed between John Africa and his followers and the leadership of the city, including Mayor W. Wilson Goode, who declared the group a terrorist organization and ordered the police to end the standoff. 
  • The Philadelphia Police Department procured liquid gel C4 explosive from the FBI, flew a helicopter above the MOVE compound on Osage Avenue, and firebombed the building. The city then stood by as the fire spread from 6221 Osage to surrounding houses. The firebombing by the city of Philadelphia consumed 65 houses completely. Eleven people died as a result of the firebombing and subsequent inferno, including MOVE leader John Africa, five other adults, and five children. I’ll be releasing a video of our trip to Osage Avenue later today. Even now there are numerous abandoned and boarded over houses up and down the block. We spoke to current residents who claimed to have lived on the block at the time of the bombing. Which is all to confirm a great truth laid out by William Faulkner a century ago: “The past is never dead. It's not even past.”

TUSD Enrollment, 2000 to 2016

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 11:45 AM

A year ago I created a chart showing TUSD's total enrollment from 2000 to 2015, using figures from the page on TUSD's website, School Enrollment by Gender & Ethnicity on Any Day. I've expanded the chart to include 2016 figures.

Like last year, I used the enrollment numbers from the 175th day, which seem to have fewer random ups and downs than other school days I looked at. On this year's chart, I expanded the width of the bars for the last six years so they could be seen more easily.

Here's the new chart.

The chart shows a decline in enrollment from 2000 to 2016 from 61,280 to 47,661, a loss of 13,619 students. But it also shows the rate of loss of students changed over the years. From 2000 to the 2006-7 school year, the district lost an average of 350 students a year. Starting in 2007 and continuing through the 2011-12 school year, the average losses more than quadrupled, to 1,600 a year. After that, the rate slowed, then increased, then slowed again. TUSD lost 417 students during the most recent school year, which is significantly lower than any loss in the previous eight years.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

American Babylon: A Conversation with Green Party Candidate Jill Stein

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 3:04 PM

Talking with Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein at the Bernie Or Bust The DNC rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for Democratic Party Convention—American Babylon asks the candidate, "Is your new campaign slogan 'Bernie or Bust?"

Sharing helps, sharing is love, share, or don't, as long as you share...with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and even Donald J. Trump.

Get Ready for Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 10:00 AM

  • Bryan Sanders
A few thoughts going into Tuesday at the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia:

  • There is a big difference in the geographic layout of the two conventions. In Cleveland, everything was right downtown. The convention itself was less than a mile walk from Public Square, where most protest and democratic activity was located over the four days. In Philadelphia, the main protest activity is going on downtown near Penn Station and City Hall, with the actual convention itself going on nearly five miles up Broad Street inside the relative sterility of Wells Fargo Arena. There are protesters at the arena, but they are separated from all convention activity by a well-constructed metal wall and a distance of a few football fields. There is no realistic opportunity to voice grievances, which is kinda the whole point of protesting and exercising one's democratic/free speech rights.

  • Protests will continue. A few animating issues are present everywhere you look: "The system is rigged" and #NOTPP and #DWS and "Lock Her Up." Anti-Trans Pacific Partnership sentiment runs rampant, the image of the letters TPP slashed out in a circle is ever present. Whatever the reality of TPP, the issue is proving to be the wedge with which Trump is attempting to peel off Bernie supporters. For those who are incredulous that Bernie supporters would or could ever become Trump voters, you really should come down and talk to people in Philly right now. I met three dudes outside Wells Fargo Arena who would blow your mind with their "We support Bernie but we want to build the wall" talk. The point being that these protesters and eventual voters are deeply motivated to get involved by specific issues, not specific candidates. Which is to say that many of Bernie's most ardent supporters have abandoned Bernie for suggesting they should throw themselves behind Hillary's campaign. It is complicated

  • "Lock Her Up" sentiment every bit as strong here in Philadelphia as it was in Cleveland. Many sport t-shirts and signs with some turn on the phrase. When pressed, a variety of offenses are named, none of them criminal according to the FBI Director James Comey and others. The question of those in power playing by different rules lingers over all of this. The day started out as a slow-motion debacle, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz booed and humiliated at her own delegation's meeting, then stepping down but immediately accepting some kind of functionary role in the Clinton campaign. The protesters were animated by all of this, to be sure, and were not interested in anything anyone pro-Hillary had to say. I witnessed numerous arguments along the line of "The system is corrupt and she's a big part of it. The emails prove they were actively trying to bring down Bernie from the get go" and the response: "Hillary's a flawed human being like all of us. So what? Do you want Trump?" 

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Monday, July 25, 2016

American Babylon: The "Bernie Problem"

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 5:30 PM

Talking with Dr. Cornel West and Chris Hedges on the street about the Bernie Problem.

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Martha McSally Is Not Endorsing Donald Trump, So You Can Stop Asking About It

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 5:00 PM

  • Courtesy of Martha McSally's Office
Congresswoman Martha McSally has told The Range she won’t be endorsing Donald Trump in this year’s presidential race, although she might vote for him.

“I have never endorsed a politician in my life and I’m not going to start now, so you can ask me for the next three and a half months, but it’s not happening,” McSally said on Friday, July 22. “Who we each vote for is our responsibility as a citizen and a voter and, in that role, have a vote just like you have a vote and I personally believe that is between me, God and the ballot box.”

The two Democrats who are competing in the Democratic primary, former state lawmakers Matt Heinz and Victoria Steele, have both worked to link McSally to Trump, as has the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They’re hoping that Trump will prove so unpopular with voters that he’ll affect down-ticket races.

After Trump clinched the nomination, McSally said via a prepared statement that she would spend time between now and Election Day evaluating Trump’s character to determine if she could support him.

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Staff Pick

Porter Hall Gallery: Sightlines, a Group Show Courtesy of Etherton Gallery

The Porter Hall Gallery is pleased to welcome Sightlines, a group photography show courtesy of Etherton Gallery,… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Aug. 1-Sept. 30, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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