Wednesday, February 15, 2017

TUSD Superintendent Firing Update: Nothing To See Here, Folks (For Now).

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 1:14 PM

The agenda for TUSD's Tuesday board meeting included an action item to look at firing Superintendent H.T. Sanchez and General Counsel Todd Jaeger. The item was pulled from the agenda. No action. Nothing to see here folks. But this isn't the last time we'll witness an attempt to oust Sanchez. It was a preview of coming events.

I'm only going to indulge in a general discussion of the situation. There's so much heat and so little light on both sides of this battle, it's impossible for me to sort out fact from fiction or determine the difference between cause-and-effect and random incidents. The fighting is fierce, filled with leaks, rumors, accusations and strange bedfellows.

So, just a few comments.

I think Sanchez should stay. [Open The Comments Floodgates!] He's done a decent job as superintendent—admirable in some instances, less admirable in others. Based on my 30 year-plus career as a public school teacher and a student of education around the country, I have no reason to think another superintendent will do a significantly better job steering this difficult district filled with the kinds of problems facing most large, ethnically diverse urban areas. More likely, the district's loss of continuity would do more harm than good.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Does TUSD Board Member Rachael Sedgwick Want to Fire Superintendent, General Counsel at the Tuesday Board Meeting?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 10:31 AM


The agenda for Tuesday night's TUSD Board meeting includes this "Action Item" requested by new board member Rachael Sedgwick:
Discussion/Consideration/Action re Employment, Assignment, Appointment, Promotion, Demotion, Dismissal, Salaries, Disciplining or Resignation of a Public Officer:
- Superintendent
- General Counsel
The Superintendent is H.T. Sanchez. The General Counsel is Todd Jaeger.

Consider this post a heads up, not a discussion, because there too many questions and moving parts here for me to address them at this point. There could be far more to talk about Wednesday. If you recall, one of the major questions raised during the 2016 board election campaign was whether or not H.T. Sanchez was doing a competent job running the district, and if not, whether he should be fired. Sedgwick's action item addresses the question head on.

The public part of the meeting will begin around 5:30pm in the Multipurpose Room, Duffy Community Center, 5145 E. 5th Street, though Sedgwick's action item may be taken up considerably later in the meeting. You can watch a livestream of the meeting here.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Jerry Falwell Jr. to Head Trump's Higher Ed Deregulation Task Force. Expect a Big Boost for Liberty—Falwell's Liberty University, That Is.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 5:11 PM

Lost in the uproar over our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is another education-related appointment that needs no Senate confirmation. Trump plans to make Jerry Falwell Jr. head of his task force to deregulate higher education.

The Obama administration made some significant advances in draining the for-profit university swamp. Think Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, both of which went into bankruptcy when the Feds exposed them for the educational scams they were. Think University of Phoenix, which lost students and profitability when it was forced to mend its predatory recruiting practices. Trump and Falwell hope to fill the swamp back up, using federal dollars to fatten the alligators who profit by putting students into debt while giving them little in the way of education in return. "The goal," Falwell said, "is to pare [Obama-administration initiatives] back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs."

Falwell is president of Liberty University. It's a nonprofit educational institution with a 14,000 student enrollment, so the brick-and-mortar university wasn't affected by Obama's crackdown on for-profits. But Liberty U. also has 65,000 online students, making it the second largest online college after University of Phoenix. Its online education is very profitable.
Most colleges now have a mix of residential and online students, but it’s almost unheard-of to have four times as many online students as residential students.

Because internet courses are cheap to deliver at scale, the online division is a big revenue driver for Liberty, which brought in $591 million in tuition in 2013, against $470 million in expenses. Liberty is essentially a medium-size nonprofit college that owns a huge for-profit college.
Putting Falwell in charge of deregulating the for-profit college sector is kind of like, oh, say, putting Goldman Sachs executives in charge of deregulating the financial sector. Meaning Trump deserves some credit, for being consistent. Henhouse, meet fox.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Countries That Embraced Vouchers Made the Wrong School Choice

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 4:32 PM

Remember that statewide vote Arizona held on vouchers? No? I didn't think so, because no such vote ever took place. There's a reason for that. Every time voters in other states have been asked the question, they've voted against vouchers. Our Republican-led legislature created our two voucher-like programs on its own. The first program was the tax credit for donating to a School Tuition Organization, which then gives out money to pay for private school tuition. The more recent was the vouchers-on-steroids program, called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts in Arizona but usually referred to as Education Savings Accounts. Bit by bit, year by year, the lege has added more students to the ESA program. This year they're fast-tracking a bill that would make the vouchers available to every student in the state.

Remember the evidence showing that vouchers improve student achievement? No? I didn't think so, since most studies have concluded there is little measurable difference between the achievement of similar students in district schools, charter schools or private schools. And on a country-to-country comparison, voucher programs appear to have harmed the overall quality of education.

The most glaring difference between the public education and voucher models of education is a comparison of Finland and Sweden. In the 1970s, Finland put together a comprehensive program to improve its public education system. Today, Finland has the best scores on international tests in Europe, scores that rival Asian countries which get the most attention for their high scores. In the 1990s, Sweden began a voucher system. Its scores on the international tests have fallen significantly since then.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Get Educated: Trump's Immigration and Refugee Executive Order

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2017 at 12:00 PM

  • AP Photo/ Ross D. Franklin

President Trump's recent immigration and refugee executive order has sparked passionate discussions on both sides of the spectrum of human rights and freedom of religion versus national security safeguards. Whether you want to support or reject this executive order, it's important to be informed on what exactly this order states, and the implications of those statements for Americans as well as the people from the seven countries banned in the order: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Tucsonians can come to the Muslim Community Center of Tucson for an open forum on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 10 a.m. to hear lawyers who specialize in these areas discuss this executive order and what legal changes Americans could expect to see within the next four years. Isabel Garcia will make the opening remarks and moderate the discussion, Tarik Sultan will be leading the conversation on "immigration law in the Trump era," Thabet Khalidi in "Civil Rights and Wrongs," and Jose Vasquez in the "Use and misuse of criminal law against targeted minorities."

Don't let ignorance be your compass to your political decisions. It's your right as an American to think, believe and say whatever you choose, but your voice will be much more effective if you make the time and effort to ensure it's an educated one.

  • Martin Schoeller for TIME

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Tucson's 'Resist Trump' Participants Make a Statement

Posted By on Wed, Feb 1, 2017 at 11:17 AM

1,200 people. That's the number the police department says attended Tucson's "Resist Trump" rally in front of Senator McCain's office Tuesday evening. That follows 15,000 at the Tucson Women's March the day after the Inauguration, and a few other gatherings in between. I've participated in a number of street-side demonstrations, but this is the first I've attended in Tucson where the people were lined up at the curb five deep, with a bulge of 200-300 people in an area where people were speaking.

The crowd wasn't protesting McCain, especially since he's been something of an ally in the fight over the Muslim ban—though he has a bad habit of talking the talk, then wimping out when it's time to walk the walk (Stick with it, John. It's the right thing to do). Most of the signs and the emotions were directed at protecting the rights of Muslims and Hispanics who have every reason to fear for their safety and stability in the face of the pronouncements from Trump and his administration. The most frequent chant was, "No hate. No fear. Refugees are welcome here."

The rally is part of a national "Resist Trump" movement, and the plan is to make Tuesday the day people gather—#ResistTrumpTuesdays. Moveon.org, which is one of the groups coordinating the nationwide effort, held an hour-long call on Sunday updating listeners on what's happening in Washington, D.C. and efforts to fight against Trump's outrages.

You can see photos from rallies across the country here.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

So What Do Southern AZ Members of Congress Have To Say About Trump's Exec Order?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 5:12 PM

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally said reviewing the vetting process for refugees "is prudent and should be expected of any new administration. However, I have concerns about certain individuals being denied entry, such as green card holders, those who served alongside our military, and partner military service members who train here, such as Iraqi pilots in Tucson.” - JESSE WEBSTER
  • Jesse Webster
  • U.S. Rep. Martha McSally said reviewing the vetting process for refugees "is prudent and should be expected of any new administration. However, I have concerns about certain individuals being denied entry, such as green card holders, those who served alongside our military, and partner military service members who train here, such as Iraqi pilots in Tucson.”
President Donald Trump created uproar both around the globe with his temporary halt to refugee programs and travel bans on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

Trump ordered a 120-day halt to allowing any refugees to enter the United States and barred any citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen from entering the U.S.

Parts of the order were blocked by federal judges last weekend and the Trump administration has since backed off barring people with green cards from entering the United States.

Southern Arizona congressional Democrats were quick to criticize Trump’s move. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ03) told The Range that the chaos that followed the release of the executive orders “called into question this government’s ability to do its job and, more importantly, understand its own history. The whole administration right now looks chaotic and unhinged.”

U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ01) said that Trump’s “broad executive order banning refugees from entering our country fails to make America more secure. It ignores our real national security needs and has created chaos at our nation’s airports.”

“This executive order does not represent our nation’s values,” O’Halleran added in a prepared statement. “We can ensure refugees and immigrants coming into our country are properly vetted without violating our Constitution or the bedrock ideals of our democracy.”

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ02) told the Weekly via email that immigration “must be balanced with the foremost priority of the federal government—protecting the American people. I served on a congressional task force focused on combating ISIS that found very real and dangerous gaps in our vetting processes. Likewise, our own intelligence officials have expressed vulnerabilities with these processes, which is why taking a comprehensive look at them is prudent and should be expected of any new administration. However, I have concerns about certain individuals being denied entry, such as green card holders, those who served alongside our military, and partner military service members who train here, such as Iraqi pilots in Tucson.”

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Ducey Bullshit Reveals His Education Budget Agenda

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 12:30 PM

What Governor Ducey said isn't a lie, exactly. It's classic bullshit, and it tells you all you need to know about the most important part of his education budget agenda.

It's in an article about how Arizona teachers' low salaries make them low hanging fruit for recruiters from nearby states where salaries are higher and benefits are better. That's one reason Arizona education advocates want Ducey to put most of his proposed $114 education budget hike into increasing salaries instead of the $13.6 million he allocated, to help retain current teachers and attract new ones. Here's Ducey's response.
The governor said he wants to see higher salaries for teachers. But he also wants full-day kindergarten, teacher debt forgiveness and broadband Internet in rural school districts, and he indicated that he’s unwilling to divert money from those priorities into more money for teacher salaries.
The best definition of bullshit is a misrepresentation which is intended to deceive. It doesn't have to be a lie to be bullshit. It can actually be substantially true so long as it serves its deceptive purpose. And Ducey's excuse for not putting more into teacher salaries is bullshit pure and simple.

Ducey's highest priority in his proposed education budget is what he calls "results-based funding." He wants $38 million for that program, close to three times what he designated for the salary boost. But he left that out of his "priorities" in the statement above.

Let's see how much the "priorities" he mentioned add up to. Full day kindergarten? He put $10 million into that pot. Teacher debt forgiveness? That comes to $250,000 — a quarter million — added to money already in the budget. Broadband internet for rural districts? That adds another $5 million. The total is fifteen-and-a-quarter million, less than half the $38 million in his "results-based funding" request. If you add all the "priorities" money to the $13.6 million he put into teacher raises, the increase goes from a dollar a day all the way up to two dollars.

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On the fourth Friday of every month, the Gardens will be the center of all things Frida… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Fourth Friday of every month, 5-8 p.m. Continues through May 26 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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