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Comment Archives: stories

Re: “Did Arne Duncan Really Say, "Testing Is Sucking The Oxygen Out Of The Room"?

Francis Saitta's comments demonstrate why he is unfit to be a member of any school board whether it be college or K-12.

It is the people, not a test, that holds others accountable, unless you are an authoritarian.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Dave Gallagher on 08/25/2014 at 8:00 AM

Re: “Buckmaster Show Callers Were A Wee Bit Upset With Me

"Was that so wrong?"

No, David, you are correct. The Governor and the Legislature SHOULD be ashamed for defying the law, and for balancing the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable.

You ARE absolutely correct!

May you always keep your eye on the ball, and may you let the haters and distractors run off your back like water runs off a duck.
Remember, we are entitled to our efforts, but not to the outcome. The haters and distractors will most likely always be there. May your most positive efforts on behalf of public education continue.

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Dave Gallagher on 08/25/2014 at 7:50 AM

Re: “Witness The Cutest Baby Elephant at The Reid Park Zoo

Yes, Bob I'd rather have that baby born here to roam in 6 acres than poached in it's natural habitat. 100K elephants were poached last year, according to some news sources. Until governmental protections are in place AND working in the countries of their natural habitats, maybe it's a good thing to have some elephants in reserve.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by tiredofpc on 08/25/2014 at 7:41 AM

Re: “Buckmaster Show Callers Were A Wee Bit Upset With Me

I happened to stop at a Walgreens drugstore on Saturday and was surprised by what I found. TUSD school clothing (t shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and hats) bearing HS names. The tag said, "a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this item directly benefit the school).

Where would a taxpayer look to find a report of ALL the other income sources to the public schools, that we are continually told "are under funded?"

I will bet there is no answer.

4 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Rat T on 08/25/2014 at 6:51 AM

Re: “Buckmaster Show Callers Were A Wee Bit Upset With Me

The Buckmaster Show is on KVOI 1030 AM.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Doug Martin on 08/25/2014 at 6:41 AM

Re: “Danehy

Face it folks, Arizona Republicans will vote for whoever proves that he/she hates the Black President and Brown People the most as this reflects their "values"

Shameful, isn't it?

3 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Bob Regan on 08/25/2014 at 6:20 AM

Re: “Buckmaster Show Callers Were A Wee Bit Upset With Me

The entire orientation of school is built around stopping kids thinking for themselves and learning to look to authority to tell them what the right answer is, what is important, and even when they can go to the bathroom.
There are so many wonderful teachers, every one I've ever met cares deeply for the kids, but the basic model is so broken that money is the least of its problems. I'd still like to see more spending, but mainly because the teachers deserve a raise.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 08/25/2014 at 6:16 AM

Re: “Buckmaster Show Callers Were A Wee Bit Upset With Me

While I never listen to "talk radio" I am not surprised at the response a reasonable person would receive expressing any type progressive views to people with nothing to do but listen to radio shows. Talk radio is nothing but entertainment not news or an exercise in learning. I am not in education, barely made it out of high school. The Governor needs a kick in the backside and a massive out cry to call a special session of the Legislature and pay up the Court ordered money to public schools.
Waiting for the regular session of the Legislature with the political charades the leadership demonstrates and the dysfunctional members display will result in no solid accomplishment. Sneaky, tricky sweeps of funds from dedicated revenue (or what should be dedicated funds) is fraudulent budget balancing.
A special session with a narrow objective will cut down on the smoke and mirror distractions the few in control use to promote a few profiteers and payback special interests who furnish campaign funds.
To encourage more quality in the classroom and promote real academic achievement not phony test score education, send teachers to drama classes during summer recess. Teach the teachers to provide stimulating lessons, classroom involvement and dramatic experiences as part of their teaching patterns. If we can't enlist the parents in the process at least make the classroom a rewarding educational exchange for the kids.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by hakeson on 08/25/2014 at 6:15 AM

Re: “"National Report" Proves That Not Everyone On Internet Can Write Satire

He buried the lead! Iim not sure about the fine line between satire and libel, but it seems that any reader with even one angstrom unit of "GAYDAR" can see this is a public tiff between members of a "gay" writers circle who are jealous of each other... one writing about TV.... the other, The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz, Who crafts, what one internet pundit labeled as "damned fine writing".
"Damned fine writing" being metro sexual meta code for Andy has been Damned to hell for, what? That's the Question. What has Lucifer got on you Borowitz?
Is it being the only successful writer from an all-male writer's circle concerned with happiness, to wit, "being merry and gay". A writing group based on the movie "Elf", which has failed to garner any attention whatsoever for it's members, no buzz, no synergy, just that silly little gig for the New Yorker... A writing group for merry men,, from their bylaws, " formed to focus on happiness laced christmas-centric fare to be enjoyed by all men of good cheer anytime of the year."

Posted by Harry Baker on 08/25/2014 at 6:08 AM

Re: “Buckmaster Show Callers Were A Wee Bit Upset With Me

David, I agree with just about everything in your last comment, and I expect we agree on 95+% of education issues. I was also a teacher for all of my lengthy career, and I worked with hundreds of other teachers and thousands of students. I worked in two states that were not right-to-work states so i was also active in the union. (I was on strike four times in my career.)

My attitudes are ...as they are for most people...shaped largely by my own experiences. I found that what took place outside classrooms (pullout programs) was largely irrelevant in impacting student outcomes. I had plenty of students who had bilingual services, speech and language therapy, special education resource help, gifted ed, physical therapy, etc... In most cases the out of classroom time was enjoyable for the kids, but not terribly productive. To me quality teaching is essentially being able to create a safe and secure environment where students can focus on their studies, knowing a variety of pedagogical approaches to help students learn at their own pace to the extent that having a class of 25+ kids allows..and helping kids learn to think for themselves.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Marty on 08/24/2014 at 7:14 PM

Re: “Buckmaster Show Callers Were A Wee Bit Upset With Me

Marty, you've clearly looked into the finance issues more carefully than I have. And you're right that TUSD gets more per student than neighboring districts, so far as I know. I simply haven't looked deeply enough into this, nor do I have the understanding of budgets I need to come up to a clear, definitive conclusion.

I think you're being overly simplistic when you say the only thing that matters is "quality teaching," but I'll bet if we went back and forth and hashed it out, our conclusions wouldn't be that far apart. Lots of it depends on the definition of the term "quality teaching." Nonetheless, as a teacher from the beginning to the end of my career, I agree that nothing is more important than that place where the rubber meets the road -- the teacher working with students in the classroom. Everything else is there to make sure that interaction is as effective as possible (Now it's me who's being overly simplistic!).

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by David Safier on 08/24/2014 at 4:39 PM

Re: “Did Arne Duncan Really Say, "Testing Is Sucking The Oxygen Out Of The Room"?

Francis, the phase you quoted from Marty's comment isn't gibberish. It's a good, concise statement of what I tried to point out in at far more length in my post, http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archi…

The only thing I'd add to Marty's statement is that schools and school districts are scapegoated along with teachers.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 08/24/2014 at 4:28 PM

Re: “Did Arne Duncan Really Say, "Testing Is Sucking The Oxygen Out Of The Room"?

".....This is scapegoating teachers in poor communities for the failure of societal institutions to work well for all children....." pray tell!!! what does this gibberish mean???

1 like, 4 dislikes
Posted by Francis Saitta on 08/24/2014 at 4:08 PM

Re: “Did Arne Duncan Really Say, "Testing Is Sucking The Oxygen Out Of The Room"?

The potential problems with any standardized testing are legion. Among the biggest problems are that norm referenced tests are designed to generate a normally distributed curve of scores...NOT to measure how well students have learned the standards they were taught. Because of that they include many questions students were never taught. The tests used to assess learning on common core standards were even worse than the typical norm referenced tests because even the questions that were supposed to be easy were based on material that had often never been taught. Unless curriculum aligned with the new standards is provided to teachers and taught to students then most students will not score at the proficient level on tests aligned with the new standards.

As even Secretary of Duncan is beginning to understand...he is a slow learner and it has taken a lot of repetitions for him to get even this far...standards and the testing that goes with the standards must be properly implemented. BUT even if the tests are properly implemented the use of standardized tests as part of teacher evaluations is a flawed strategy. Unless you do what William Saunders attempted (and ultimately failed) to do and account for all the other variables not related to teaching (poverty, dysfunctional families, homelessness, etc...) to get a more or less correct picture of the "value each teacher adds" to the education of students then the scores students achieve are not connected enough to the quality of teaching to assess any teachers. Without an accurate "value added" formula all the use of tests as part of teacher evaluations will show is the erroneous result that middle class kids are predominantly being taught by great teachers and poor and minority kids are taught by mediocre (or worse) teachers. That is the real problem with Duncan's approach that teachers figured out long before their unions did. This is not accountability. This is scapegoating teachers in poor communities for the failure of societal institutions to work well for all children.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Marty on 08/24/2014 at 3:42 PM

Re: “Best Gay/Lesbian Bar

Are any of these places wheelchair accessible. The New Moon was a pain cause I had to be with someone to get someone to open the back door right into the crowd by the dance floor.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by dreamerr on 08/24/2014 at 3:17 PM

Re: “Buckmaster Show Callers Were A Wee Bit Upset With Me

David, You need to do yourself a favor and download the most current report on school district spending by the Arizona Auditor General. Checking the audited numbers in this document would give you the information to correctly answer school finance questions and not speak as if all districts got the same level of funding. The fact is that TUSD...in the most recent report, took in more than $1700 more PER PUPIL than Vail ($8,421 per pupil versus $6,695 per pupil.) TUSD took in more than $1600 more PER PUPIL than Sunnyside, ($8,421 versus $6,759) another district with a high percentage of poor and minority students.

You must have at least a nodding acquaintance with the research on what school factors make a real difference in student learning. That research is clear that the ONLY school factor that makes a significant difference is quality teaching. No program, no administrator, no curricular choices, no particular set of standards...in short, nothing that schools provide except for quality teaching...makes a difference for student learning. It is inexcusable for TUSD...which gets so much more money PER PUPIL than other local districts AND enjoys huge economies of scale spends less than half its revenues in the classroom. TUSD only spent 49.2% of its revenues in the classroom. A lot of the money that should have gone to the classroom went to administration. TUSD spent 10.2% of its revenues on educational bureaucracy. This was much more than other districts in its size category. By contrast, Vail spent 56% of its revenues in the classroom. BTW, this report has the percent spent in the classroom for every district in the state.

Having said all of that, I would argue that if the state legislature really wants to get more bang for its education dollar...and not just shortchange traditional public schools to be able to give extras to charter schools and divert more public money to private schools...then the best thing the legislature could do is to increase state funding for all public schools in accordance with the voter approved initiative AND require that districts spend no less than 55% of their total revenues in the classroom where it will actually make a difference for student learning.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Marty on 08/24/2014 at 3:09 PM

Re: “Did Arne Duncan Really Say, "Testing Is Sucking The Oxygen Out Of The Room"?

Mr. Spanier: Our System of Public Education at the Local Level is in CRISIS! We need to hold Local Systems accountable. Standardized Testing, like Common Core, will do exactly that.....we need to implement rigorous Academic and Behavioral Standards, otherwise the slid downhill will continue!!

0 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Francis Saitta on 08/24/2014 at 9:42 AM

Re: “Did Arne Duncan Really Say, "Testing Is Sucking The Oxygen Out Of The Room"?

The problems with Francis' comments include the fact that Common Core standardized tests are not administered in every grade level or subject area. In fact, only two subject matters are measured and only in two grades each year. Additionally, more states are dropping the Common Core Standards and developing their own tests making comparisons between states problematic. More importantly the tests have not and cannot now be evaluated using the accepted criteria for assessing tests, reliability and validity. Add to this the fact that there are no common standards for the curriculum, the mode of instruction or teacher training and professional development and you have the perfect storm guaranteeing another decade of floundering.

Finally, think through the ramifications of completely reorganizing the administrative and teaching staff of schools failing to achieve at least a passing grade on the Common Core tests. In many cities this equals more than half the schools. End game? Increasing numbers of schools judged too poor to continue educating students. Increasing numbers of teachers leaving the profession and decreasing numbers of aspiring teachers changing their plans and entering other degree programs. Finally, and more importantly, tens or hundreds of thousands of students will be caught in the quicksand of shifting priorities, instructional methodologies and a decimated curriculum (no testing in the arts, foreign languages or history) throughout their public school lives.

The accountability end game relies on district and state interventions in "turning schools around." Given the resources available at those levels, especially in the poorest districts and states, the result will be systemic breakdown. Ask yourself, who are the school improvement interventionists at the district and state levels and how prepared are they to turn around anything but the swivel chairs in the offices of the bureaucracies they inhabit?

US education faces many serious issues but the Common Core Standards married to accountability schemes represents a cure far worse than the disease.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Rick Spanier on 08/24/2014 at 9:30 AM

Re: “Buckmaster Show Callers Were A Wee Bit Upset With Me

How are they supposed to pay this "right now"?

1 like, 4 dislikes
Posted by Yes Bob on 08/24/2014 at 9:16 AM

Re: “Did Arne Duncan Really Say, "Testing Is Sucking The Oxygen Out Of The Room"?

Standardized Testing, at every Grade Level/Subject, in our Public School System is necessary because of the heterogeneity of Instructional Programs of Schools and Classroom Teachers. We need an objective measure that indicates that our Students are being taught properly. This is the sole function of Standardized Testing and the necessity for their existence.

We have lost, as a Nation (particularly here in Arizona), an understanding of the fundamental importance of Education for the long term survival of our Democracy. In his first Annual Address to Congress on January 8, 1790, President Washington said that Education was “the security of a free Constitution”…that, through Education a free people would know and value “their own rights”…..and would be able “to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness”.

The Common Core Standards will highlight those States/School Systems/ Schools that have a viable/productive Public Secondary System and those that do not so that corrective measures can be taken; if necessary via a complete reorganization of the Administrative and Instructional Staff.

0 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Francis Saitta on 08/24/2014 at 8:32 AM

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