Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 118. Duck-Dodge-and-Stall Edition

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 12:35 PM

  • Illustration from Photospin image
Ducey and Republican legislators have some ducking and dodging to do. According to a recent Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll, voters still want more money for our schools by a wide margin, even after the passage of Prop 123—74 percent for more money, 17 percent against and the rest undecided. Republicans, many of whom want to weaken or dismantle public education, don't want to go along. But they can't say that in the face of overwhelming public support for funding, especially just before an election.

"Let's wait 'til next year," Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said. Well, he didn't actually say that, but that's what he meant. He said he's waiting to hear the governor's proposals for increasing education funding.
“My hope is the governor will have some proposals,” [Shooter] said. “I know they’re working on it, but I don’t know how far along they are."
Don packed a whole lot into his statement that needs to be unpacked. Even though he's a legislator—you know, one of the folks who write laws, vote on them and send them to the governor for his signature—he claims he doesn't have any ideas of his own on way to increase school funding. So he hopes the governor has some proposals. Hopes. You'd think as the Republican head of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Don could walk into the governor's office and say, "Hey, Doug, what do you have in mind for education funding?" He could, of course. But then he'd have to tell the reporter what Ducey told him. It's much more convenient for Shooter to say he knows the governor is "working on it," but he doesn't know any more than that.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 117. Vox Populi Edition

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 4:30 PM

  • Illustration from Photospin image
  • Courtesy of pixabay.com
When it comes to school funding, Ducey has spoken: No. New. Money. But the voters have spoken too, for the second time. They want: More. New. Money.

Immovable object, meet unstoppable force. Something, or someone, has got to give on the school funding front.

Back in 2015, a Morrison Institute poll found that 74 percent of Arizona voters wanted the state to spend more on K-12 education. It was Governor Ducey's fondest wish that he could throw the people a portion of the money the state owed to the schools via Prop 123, mainly using the state land trust fund instead of the state budget, the peasants would be satisfied and he could get back to the important business of giving tax cuts to his rich friends. Looks like it didn't quite work out that way.

The latest Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll found—drum roll, please—74 percent of voters still think we spend too little on K-12 education, just like they did in 2015. Even among Ducey's people, the Republicans, 63 percent say we're not spending enough. Among Democrats, the number is 88 percent. When Ducey told everyone Prop 123 was only the first step, implying, deceptively, that he thought the next step should be more money, the voters apparently agreed.

So what's next? Voters aren't actually an unstoppable force. Elected officials block the will of the people on a regular basis. And politicians aren't entirely immovable. Fear of losing an election has been known to move them a few feet in one direction or the other. So who's going to give, and how much?

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Sen. Jeff Flake on His Battles With Trump: "Somebody Has To Stand Up and Call Him Out"

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Sen. Jeff Flake: "When he made the kind of statements he's made regarding minorities, women, POWs, others, somebody has to stand up and call him out," - COURTESY OF FLAKE.SENATE.GOV
  • Courtesy of flake.senate.gov
  • Sen. Jeff Flake: "When he made the kind of statements he's made regarding minorities, women, POWs, others, somebody has to stand up and call him out,"
Talking Points Memo catches up with Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who has been one of the few Republicans willing to condemn GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump:

But, in a candid, Capitol Hill interview with TPM, Flake offered what he has all campaign season, honesty and insight into what it is like to be one of the few elected Republicans in Washington willing to call out his own party's nominee for president.

"I am in a position to do it," Flake said. "I'm not up for re-election. ... I'm the first to wonder if I would do the same thing if I were up for re-election. I'd like to think I would, but I don't know."

In a campaign cycle when the Republican Party has bent, flipped and tied itself into knots to validate their support for Trump, the typically congenial and restrained Flake has emerged on Capitol Hill as kind of GOP conscience, warning his party that their blind allegiance to Trump may cost the party in the future. While Flake's colleagues briskly bypass the Capitol press corps, Flake has sometimes reluctantly, but consistently been willing to call Trump what he is: a liability.

"When he made the kind of statements he's made regarding minorities, women, POWs, others, somebody has to stand up and call him out," Flake said. "Republican have a tough time building a coalition that can win general elections. We've lost the last two. We cannot afford to go out of our way to offend groups that should be part of our coalition."

Flake talks about how his Mormon faith has influenced his thoughts on Trump:

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John McCain Is Crushing Ann Kirkpatrick. Or They're Neck and Neck. Who Knows?

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 1:34 PM

U.S. Sen. John McCain says Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is too lib.
  • U.S. Sen. John McCain says Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is too lib.
So where is the race between five-term U.S. Sen. John McCain and his Democratic challenger, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick?

Two recently released polls tell very different stories: An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll showed McCain with a huge 19-point lead over Kirkpatrick. The survey of 946 registered voters, taken between Sept. 6 and Sept. 8, showed that 57 percent were supporting McCain, while 38 percent were supporting Kirkpatrick.

But a Public Policy Polling survey of 837 likely voters, taken between Aug. 26-28, showed McCain and Kirkpatrick knotted up at 43 percent apiece.

Clearly they can’t both be right—but they could both be wrong. The NBC poll used live callers, while PPP used robocall technology, so the edge goes to NBC in that respect. But a 19-point lead much higher than other polls that have surveyed the race and given McCain, on average, a 13.7-point edge over Kirkpatrick, according to Real Clear Politics averaging of surveys. That’s in line with a 13-point edge that a CNN poll gave McCain in a mid-August survey.
Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick says John McCain has changed.
  • Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick says John McCain has changed.
Team McCain has generally been dismissive of PPP surveys, with spokesperson Lorna Romero discounting the firm as a left-leaning operation used by Democrats that produces “fake” and “bogus” polls.

Team Kirkpatrick, meanwhile, was critical of the NBC poll.

"This poll is a complete outlier, and its sample is in no way representative of the likely voters in this race,” Kirkpatrick spokesman D.B. Mitchell said via email. “Laughably, it has John McCain with a 5-point lead among Latino voters—despite McCain trailing that demographic by double digits. … In reality, McCain's support among Latino voters is cratering because of his unwavering support for Donald Trump and his brazen attempts to portray his immigration position differently in English and Spanish. Arizona voters want a new, principled voice in the U.S. Senate not a consummate Washington politician, and that's why McCain’s Washington backers and his Super PAC have been forced to spend millions of dollars to prop him up in a desperate attempt to save McCain’s political career.”

Team McCain swung back with a response from Romero via email saying that although Kirkpatrick "has spent her three unremarkable terms in Congress siding with her party bosses at every opportunity, Arizonans either don’t know her or don’t support her record of serving as a rubber stamp for the liberal establishment." 

“In English and Spanish, John McCain has consistently championed the need for a secure border and immigration reform," Romero continued. "John McCaIn is honored to have the support of so many in Arizona’s Hispanic community, and he’s always worked to advance the priorities of growing Arizona’s economy, supporting small businesses, ensuring all children have access to a quality education, ​protecting our nation from terror threats, ​and reforming our broken immigration system.”

Whatever the numbers are, both McCain and Kirkpatrick are running full steam. In the wake of his big win the primary, McCain has adopted the narrative that he would stand as a check against President Hillary Clinton—which suggests that he isn’t counting on Donald Trump winning in November. (McCain seems increasingly irritated by questions about his endorsement of Trump; in a recent exchange with reporters, he said he hadn’t been paying attention to Trump’s weird embrace of Putin, whom McCain dismissed as a “murderer and a thug.”) He’s also hammering away at Kirkpatrick for her support of Obamacare and the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Trump's Education Policies Are Conservative Boilerplate, Give Or Take $20 Billion

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 3:07 PM

  • Courtesy of flickr.com
Donald Trump has finally told us what he thinks about education, making it abundantly clear he hasn't thought much about the subject. Before this, he's made general pronouncements about wanting guns, not Common Core, in schools, and being for school choice. And of course, "I want the parents, and I want all of the teachers, and I want everybody to get together around a school and to make education great." Most of his current proposals are nothing new, a restatement of the standard "education reform"/privatization agenda, including an emphasis on vouchers. His advisors wrote him a speech, he read it, and now he'll be able to return to what he really cares about, which is TRUMP MAKING AMERICA (and Trump)GREAT AGAIN!

"School Choice," which Trump says will lead to "Increased Student Performance," is the uniting theme in his proposals. There's no solid evidence that charter schools or private schools increase student achievement—most studies come out as a wash, with little difference in achievement between district, charter and private schools when they compare similar students—but never mind. Facts never have never stood in the way of Trump's runaway assertions before.

Here is Trump's vision of school choice.
As President, Mr. Trump will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty. That means that we want every disadvantaged child to be able to choose the local public, private, charter or magnet school that is best for them and their family. Each state will develop its own formula, but the dollars should follow the student.
It's all about poor children, according to Trump's statement. No mention of the rich children whose parents will be able to send their children to toney private schools on the taxpayers' dime, though they're clearly included in the plan. Later the proposal says he wants school choice "to bring hope to every child in every city in this land."

Trump is in favor of portable funding, where federal money follows the child. It's another conservative educational standard, which would gut Title 1 programs in schools with a majority of low income students and transfer money to schools with more high income students. And of course, he's for teacher merit pay and ending teacher tenure laws.

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About That Charter School Trump Visited In Ohio

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 2:26 PM

  • Courtesy of flickr.com
Before Trump gave his speech on education at a charter school in Cleveland, Ohio, he had a photo op talking with an African American student to show how much he cares about those What-the-hell-do-you-have-to-lose? folks. Then in the speech he talked up the value of school choice, including charter schools, as a way to increase student performance, especially among poor and disadvantaged students. Problem is, the charter where he spoke, Cleveland Arts and Social Sciences Academy, isn't exactly a model of educational excellence.

Bad school choice, Donald.

The for-profit charter is currently owned by Pansophic Learning, founded by Ron Packard. Packard is the man who co-founded and was the CEO of K12 Inc., the notoriously bad, privately traded corporation which runs a string of low performing online schools in a number of states. Now he's buying up a bunch of brick-and-mortar charters, mainly in Ohio, which is known to have some of the most corrupt and low-performing charter schools in the country. He bought a number of schools from White Hat Management, which has received almost as much bad press as K12 Inc. for its poor schools and profit-centered management, and some from another charter network. The school where Trump spoke got a D for its Performance Index on Ohio's 2014-15 school report card, which is "a composite of scores across multiple grades and subjects that Ohio uses to summarize results." It did even worse in the value-added category, which measures how individual students' achievement grew over the school year. There, it got an F. You could say, "Well, that's just Cleveland," but the Cleveland Municipal schools got a C grade from the state.

Anyone who reads my posts know I don't put a great deal of stock in comparing schools by their achievement scores, which are more an indicator of the schools' zip code than their educational quality. But Trump apparently thinks charters, along with private school vouchers, are the answers to improving school performance.  He might have looked around for a better school to make his case.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Charters Are Not Public Schools, Says the National Labor Relations Board

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 8:52 PM

It sounds like an academic question. "Class, today we're going to discuss whether or not charter schools are public schools." You say "public school," I say "publicly funded school." Potato, po-tah-to. But recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board move the question into the realm of federal law. In two cases, the NLRB decided charter schools aren't public schools. They're private corporations.
In its recent decisions, both issued Aug. 24, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Hyde Leadership Charter School in Brooklyn and the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School are — like other government contractors — private corporations that receive taxpayer dollars.
The Democrats on the NLRB supported the ruling, and the only Republican dissented, but it's not clear who will benefit from the wider implications of the decisions. Charters like to call themselves public schools when they want taxpayer funding, so being considered private corporations could put their funding in jeopardy, but they also like being able to act like private entities when it comes to financial and organizational transparency, so the ruling could help them maintain their privacy fire walls.

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ITT Tech Closes All Its Campuses, Including One in Tucson

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 11:00 AM

  • Illustration from wikimedia photo
ITT Tech, one of the for-profit college companies which have come under well-deserved scrutiny for their predatory recruiting tactics, dependence on government funds to pay student tuition and the questionable quality of their course offerings, is shutting down nationwide. That includes one campus in Tucson and three in the Phoenix area. Nationally, it has about 35,000 students and 8,000 employees.

ITT Tech blames the Feds for the closure, which is partly true. Last week the U.S. Department of Education said the colleges could no longer enroll new students who needed federal financial aid to attend, which pretty much meant no new students. However, the company's shoddy tactics and performance were the reasons the Department of Ed cut off the funds.

ITT Tech follows the Corinthian Colleges closure in 2015 for similar reasons. And the Phoenix-based Apollo Education Group, which is the parent company for the University of Phoenix, has fallen on hard times because of increased government scrutiny. The last time I wrote about Apollo a year or so ago, the company's stock had plummeted from its 2012 high of 56.64 to 12.45. The stock is currently trading at 8.91.

The future doesn't look bright for the very profitable for-profit schools which prey on their students who often end up with poor educations and high student loans. That's good for the students and could be a boon for community colleges, which often compete for the same students, charge lower tuition and give the students a higher quality education.

The Department of Education is working to help students who are currently enrolled, including possibly forgiving their student loans.

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Staff Pick

PCC Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery – PCC FACULTY EXHIBIT

The PCC Faculty Exhibit, featuring Michael Nolan, Greg Loumeau and Mano Sotelo. Reception: Sept. 8, 5-7 p.m.… More

@ Pima Community College Center for the Arts Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Continues through Oct. 7 2202 W. Anklam Road.

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