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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch

Re: “TUSD Board Meeting Scheduled For Tuesday, Feb. 21. Only One Item on the Agenda

The Network for Public Education sent out an e-mail this morning urging the people on its contact list to work against the passage of HR610:

"HR 610, the School Choice Act, would eliminate the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was passed as a part of Lyndon B. Johnson's 'War on Poverty.' Federal funds would be used instead to create 'block grants' to be used to 'distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child.' It would also roll back nutritional standards for free lunches for poor children."

This is the alternative to insisting that public school districts be competently managed. If they cannot be competently and honestly managed, the nation will take -- and is taking -- a different path.

What lessons about the direction national policy should take can we draw from observing TUSD under the Sanchez administration?

**Under its current leadership, the district redistributed Title 1 funds to achieve an across-the-board reduction in class sizes. This had the effect of reducing class sizes by adding fully qualified, experienced and certified teachers in schools like University High School and Fruchthendler that serve primarily affluent students, while in many of the schools serving primarily poor students, the new teaching positions created by the initiative could not be filled. Since the district reduced class sizes, too many classrooms in low-SES schools have been staffed with under-qualified long-term subs whose labor the Sanchez administration then outsourced to the for-profit company ESI, reducing their wages and destroying their ability to qualify for benefits. Does this provide the public with a "case study" that supports maintaining the provisions of ESEA? The public could be forgiven for asking: if this is what happens to Title 1 funds in districts like TUSD, what is the point of the government granting them? They are not benefiting the students they are intended to benefit.

**Under its current leadership, the district began spending millions in desegregation funds that should be spent to benefit minority students in increased legal fees to try to get out from under its desegregation order. Leaving aside the question of whether these funds would be better applied in the classrooms to benefit students, let's look at what the probable result of getting out from under the desegregation order will be: the Arizona legislature will have an excuse ("They're no longer under court order!") to eliminate the funding supplement entirely. Is the loss of $60 million per year that could potentially be applied to benefit minority students and achieve greater integration too high a price to pay for TUSD's central administrators no longer having to deal with independent desegregation authorities asking questions about how these funds are being applied? I guess it would depend on who you ask: the parents of minority students or the central administrators in TUSD, who will continue to receive inflated salaries and bonuses whether or not the district continues to levy desegregation taxes on its residents and business owners.)

**Are the best interests of poor children being served in a public district system where the Superintendent takes home nearly $500K a year and gives $10K bonuses to members of his central administrative cabinet while the district hoards 301 money meant for teacher bonuses in the districts' bank accounts and teachers leave the district and / or the profession because the working conditions in TUSD are so poor and / or they cannot put food on the table for their families with their shockingly low salaries and lower-than-they-should be bonuses? Half way through this school year, there were still more than 100 teaching positions the district had not been able to fill. Considering the district's inability to apply the funds available to it in ways that result in its classrooms being uniformly and reliably staffed with qualified educators, how do we then make the case to the public that it would not better serve students to be given the option of enrolling elsewhere, as the federal legislation under discussion proposes to do?

Whatever decisions are made about TUSD's leadership in the near term, the community should be considering these questions and keeping in mind that while the public observes a district enrolling 50,000 students systematically and persistently failing to offer quality services to minorities and the disadvantaged, many of the legitimate arguments for maintaining federal education laws and policies like ESEA are being effectively undermined.

19 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Local Management's Implications for National Policy? on 02/17/2017 at 9:28 AM

Re: “Death in the Arizona Borderlands

Think of all the lives the wall will destroy.

But anyone with half a brain knows, the advice given by What, Again is the best advice to avoid.

Unless you are the same caliber of moron that What, Again is.

16 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by What, Again is the Yugest moron in Tucson Weekly posting history on 02/17/2017 at 8:14 AM

Re: “TUSD Sideshow

Wow! It's so refreshing to have yet another piece of education coverage from the Weekly that tells the Grijalva/Foster story (NOT). What the h has happened to this newspaper? I get it--bought by outsiders, decreasing budget, etc. etc. etc. but the education coverage on TUSD is all only from one direction--does anyone else notice? Stephanie Boe got you on speed dial or what?

18 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Betts Putnam-Hidalgo on 02/17/2017 at 7:49 AM

Re: “Death in the Arizona Borderlands

Think about all the jobs on both sides of the border will be lost if the wall is built.

16 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by 2ndThoughts on 02/17/2017 at 7:08 AM

Re: “Death in the Arizona Borderlands

Think of all the lives the Wall will save.

11 likes, 19 dislikes
Posted by What, Again on 02/17/2017 at 6:06 AM

Re: “TUSD Board Meeting Scheduled For Tuesday, Feb. 21. Only One Item on the Agenda

Looks like we have a new TUSD reporter at TW who does no better than Safier and Nintzel:
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2017/02/16/tusd-sideshow

What a surprise.

Here is a good comment that was posted on the above piece that is also relevant here:

"The quotes from Grijalva and Foster are revealing of what their agenda and attitude has been for the past four sad years of their misguided leadership: it doesn't matter what is actually happening in the district, what matters are what reports appear in the media. The district is going down in flames under the shockingly incompetent leadership of the sadly under-qualified administrator these women and their former sidekick Cam Juarez brought into town three and a half years ago through an improper, untransparent process (using the same search firm that had recently tried to sell Isquierdo to a Texas district AFTER Isquierdo went down in flames in Sunnyside: http://tucson.com/news/local/education/precollegiate/search-firm-that-botched-texas-schools-chief-hiring-now-looking/article_b1c0a248-fd05-5dea-ab92-643522a18a9c.html

But instead of facing the truth and directly addressing the problem they have created, the disastrous PR "strategy" the district's failed leadership has tried to employ is this: "If we tell the public the truth, then charter schools and private schools may win in this war we are fighting with them."

Heads up: the job of the district's "leaders" is to tell the public THE TRUTH. It is not to create misleading images of the district in news stories and to BLOCK every channel through which real information about this FAILING institution can reach the constituents who might make the disastrous decision of enrolling their children in under-performing schools. When the course of lies and misleading propaganda is chosen, the district's leadership themselves become the worst enemies of the public district system because in lying to the public about it, they turn it into something that is corrupt and indefensible.

Grijalva and Foster lost the battle to maintain their Board majority. They will lose the battle to keep their overpaid and disastrously underperforming Superintendent in place [now or a few weeks or months from now when he quits in response to actually having a Board that, unlike the previous irresponsible majority, oversees him responsibly]. Kristel Foster can alert her Facebook friends and get all the local sycophants to speak in a TUSD Board Meeting Call to the Audience, but fortunately for Tucson, the people who showed up on February 14 to deliver Valentines to the district's mismanager-in-chief are not the people now constituting the majority on this Board."

25 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by The district needs, and will get, better leadership. on 02/16/2017 at 9:40 PM

Re: “TUSD Sideshow

The quotes from Grijalva and Foster are revealing of what their agenda and attitude has been for the past four sad years of their misguided leadership: it doesn't matter what is actually happening in the district, what matters are what reports appear in the media. The district is going down in flames under the shockingly incompetent leadership of the sadly under-qualified administrator these women and their former sidekick Cam Juarez brought into town three and a half years ago through an improper, untransparent process (using the same search firm that had recently tried to sell Isquierdo to a Texas district AFTER Isquierdo went down in flames in Sunnyside: http://tucson.com/news/local/education/precollegiate/search-firm-that-botched-texas-schools-chief-hiring-now-looking/article_b1c0a248-fd05-5dea-ab92-643522a18a9c.html

But instead of facing the truth and directly addressing the problem they have created, the disastrous PR "strategy" the district's failed leadership has tried to employ is this: "If we tell the public the truth, then charter schools and private schools may win in this war we are fighting with them."

Heads up: the job of the district's "leaders" is to tell the public THE TRUTH. It is not to create misleading images of the district in news stories and to BLOCK every channel through which real information about this FAILING institution can reach the constituents who might make the disastrous decision of enrolling their children in under-performing schools. When the course of lies and misleading propaganda is chosen, the district's leadership themselves become the worst enemies of the public district system because in lying to the public about it, they turn it into something that is corrupt and indefensible.

Grijalva and Foster lost the battle to maintain their Board majority. They will lose the battle to keep their overpaid and disastrously underperforming Superintendent in place. Kristel Foster can alert her Facebook friends and get all the local sycophants to speak in a TUSD Board Meeting Call to the Audience, but fortunately for Tucson, the people who showed up on February 14 to deliver Valentines to the district's mismanager-in-chief are not the people now constituting the majority on this Board.

21 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by The district needs, and will get, better leadership. on 02/16/2017 at 9:31 PM

Re: “TUSD Board Meeting Scheduled For Tuesday, Feb. 21. Only One Item on the Agenda

What's TUSD going to do when the gravy train of illegals and the millions of dollars that follow them runs dry?

7 likes, 25 dislikes
Posted by What, Again on 02/16/2017 at 6:37 PM

Re: “TUSD Sideshow

What were doing here is a side-show circus, Grijalva said. If Im a parent of a kindergartner or someone whos coming from a charter school and looking for a middle or high school for my child, why would I pick TUSD? Because all I see in the headlines is this drama.

They also see you conferencing with a known domestic terrorist, on the taxpayer dime.

No drama in you organizing your chain-in of students at a previous board meeting?

14 likes, 31 dislikes
Posted by What, Again on 02/16/2017 at 12:11 PM

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

Main point: 100% correct, Betts. Safier does need to get off his ass and attend the governance meetings in the district on which he presumes to issue his ludicrously poorly informed opinions. The fact that people as ignorant as he is of what actually happens in the district are allowed to lead public opinion (or the PCDP / DGT portion of it) is a large part of the reason why the only sane choice for parents who recognize what is going on here is to remove their children from the sinking ship.

Supporting detail: mainly correct, with the notable exception of the fact Stegeman was on the Board during the three years when the 301 funds were accumulating in the district's bank accounts and he, in spite of his much-vaunted economic expertise and mastery of the financial details of the district's operations, either did not recognize it was happening or did not choose to bring it to the public's attention and do anything about it. At the point you refer to, when the build-up of 301 funds had been recognized and brought to the public's attention by others, he stood to gain points in the eyes of well-connected and locally influential supporters who were taking an interest in the issue (e.g. those connected with TUSD Kids First) by moving the issue forward in a Board meeting and putting Grijalva and Foster on the spot about it in public. More political theater. There are no white hats in this drama, just shades of gray, some closer to villainous black and some further from it.

The main problem here is that the political party which, by-in-large, has run this district for the last several decades, does not at this point have decision makers in it who are standing up for the right things: paying attention to the details, utilizing proper process in public institutions, ensuring transparency. Decisions are made based on faulty information and lies; lies are believed because someone who has wheedled their way into the center of the network (like Kristel Foster) whispers in the ears of people who don't want to do the tedious work of fact-checking her fantasy-land representation of what is happening in the district, which bears little or no relation to REALITY.

If the largely Democratic electorate in the district had been looking to select candidates who were well informed about the district and committed to the ideals other branches of the Democratic Party have been committed to in the past -- equity in education, transparency in and competent management of public institutions -- they would have selected different leadership. But they keep re-electing their own dysfunction, and, with the new "leadership" team which includes two re-elected incumbents and one newcomer who is off to a very rough start, we are now seeing -- yet again -- the latest version of the sad results of that.

It's admirable in some ways that you are still at it, observing and providing commentary, but before you give more years of your life to this project, I suggest you ask yourself: Who is listening to you? What, given what you've seen for the past 12 years, do you honestly believe can be achieved to improve conditions in this rapidly deteriorating institution, where the local "leadership" network has proved time and time again that they prefer lies to the truth and self-interested schemers to competent Board members and administrators?

22 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Suporting Local Reform Means Abandoning TUSD on 02/16/2017 at 10:15 AM

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

I only wish the author would step, just for a moment, out of Fosterlandia and into a TUSD Board meeting. (No, he doesn't attend meetings he has told me repeatedly, and he never did in his 30 some odd years of teaching.) If he did, he would not have to look so hard for evidence, and he would actually be able to "sort out fact from fiction or determine the difference between cause-and-effect and random incidents." The Superintendent's history of telling lies in Board meetings, on the public record, and of evading issues by repeating his own misleading information would quickly sell any critical thinker on the fact that this Administration does not pass the smell test. A quick watch of the hyper-defensive leading questions that Foster asks anytime her Superintendent is asked a question would immediately show the game for what it is.

The game is to protect the Superintendent and his bloated salary at all costs, despite the Districts' poor test scores and worse performance in terms of complying with the USP. Part of that is bringing up the vocal circle of TEA redshirts to pledge total fealty to an Administration that uses THEIR money to pay debts, appears to send a mountain of teachers packing because of discontent, and promises teachers 123 money to get their vote and then doesn't give it to them. Another part of it is bringing out community activists to claim THEIR fealty because, as white childless people on the southside, they can tell he's doing a good job because he speaks Spanish and is only HALF white, or others who claim theirs because that other half is Latino, so he must be perfect...its a perfect storm. When you can get a guy who feeds the hungry to claim undying loyalty to someone who makes half a million dollars a year, your game is successful. When you can get a number of Principals to stand up and say they are receiving wonderful support from the administration -- which happened just a few years before some of the most ardent of them lost their magnet status --you've got some powerful kool-aid at work (funny, auto-correct wants to turn that into "kook-aid" which works too!)

The point is, you can learn a lot from meetings. "The fighting is fierce, filled with leaks, rumors, accusations and strange bedfellows." Yep--and many of those things are trademarks of the very camp that the author is allied with: again, something he would know if he went to meetings. Has he met with Rachael Sedgwick? Or does he just assume his BFF's analysis of her when he says that she is "impulsive and quick tempered"?

Without watching meetings, you miss just how strange the bedfellows are. You miss Foster and Grijalva fighting for the necessity to keep all of the Board meetings out on the East side of the district, just right down the street from UHS and Sabino, closer to Freuchtendler--where the better heeled parents of the district can easily come to Board meetings and make their voices heard. You miss the irony of Hicks and Stegeman asking for greater access for parents on the westside to attend Board meetings while Grijalva and Foster effectively veto the idea. You also miss the irony of Stegeman, TEA's favorite demon, championing the turn-around of a little cheating mis-step that the District and the union made that resulted in teachers not receiving their earned 301 money this year. Did the union turn that around either when it happened or now, months later? No, they did not, and they even publicly defended their actions (which were to raise the cut scores for different grade levels of performance pay AFTER the 301 criteria had been voted on by their membership). But Stegeman, "demon of the district" did. The author would have been squirming in his seat as his favorite Board members spent about 20 unnecessary minutes trying to figure out how to make Stegeman look bad for actually figuring out a way to give the teachers money they deserve!

The point is that the confusing becomes much less so when you actually show up. If you don't you are always relying on someone else's interpretation of events. And in a circus like this, with all the fun-house mirrors, that is really dangerous.

19 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Betts Putnam-Hidalgo on 02/16/2017 at 8:39 AM

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

Isn't she Rachael "do you know who I am?" Sedgwick?

8 likes, 19 dislikes
Posted by SonoranWinds on 02/16/2017 at 8:22 AM

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

Yes, "Frances," and they completely BOTCHED the hiring process last time they did it, when the Board was under the control of a majority none of whom had the faintest clue about proper process in public institutions or proper qualifications for someone occupying such a difficult role and the district has been suffering from that shockingly poor hiring decision and members of the network have been lying to cover up the damage it has created ever since.

Whistling in the dark (and lying "bravely" to the public about what is actually going on) does not improve matters.

TUSD is a dying beast. Various commenters write funny things here occasionally, but what we're witnessing is a tragedy, not a farce. Tens of thousands of students are stuck in this thing. Your comment above is correct in one respect: what is needed is sober, honest analysis of the current lay of the land and deliberative, rational planning in a non-politicized environment about what steps need to be taking to treat the sick beast.

Attend a TUSD Board meeting some time and see if you think anything resembling "sober, honest analysis" and "deliberative, rational planning" could take place in this setting, among these people, who all (with the possible exception of the newcomer Sedgwick, who clearly has much to learn before she can become effective in this environment) represent factions that are in a bitter struggle over control of the power to allocate the between 300 and 400 million dollars in the district's annual budget.

As has been said in other comments recently, the reformers were right to ask whether the structure of districts like this enables reform to take place.

Tragically, the answer is no.

25 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by The only feasible option is exit. on 02/16/2017 at 6:50 AM

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

If there is an effort to change administrations, you had better have an idea about who you would want and why that person will do a much much better job than the incumbent. Big district administrators who are highly successful are rare, and expensive. It's like looking for a new college football coach. You don't like the incumbent but many ADs have no idea who is better, they do a national search and "settle" . The Nevada legislature passed a bill in 2015 to break up the Clark County (Las Vegas, fourth largest in the USA) school district under the theory that better performance will ensue. The only problem was the legislature had no idea how to do the breakup and had a contentious commission draw up the break up plan AFTER the legislation passed. Millions on consultants later, it's still a mess. So you had better know what's better AHEAD OF time rather than be a fish flopping on a rock. And not the usual nilhist comments herein like "anything is better!" which is never true.

14 likes, 20 dislikes
Posted by Frances Perkins on 02/15/2017 at 10:17 PM

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

Ms. Sedgwick is a well-intentioned newcomer. She is walking into...what shall I call it? World War Z.

The human beings connected with this Governing Board have long since been scratched by zombies or bitten by vampires or had their brains removed and replaced by aliens. They are all obsessed with moving their own sick, self-interested agendas forward (Grijalva, Foster, Stegeman) or they are operated via remote control by one of the main players (Hicks, by Stegeman; possibly Foster, by R. Grijalva via A. Grijalva and / or HT Sanchez, who is supposed to be Foster's employee but is actually her boss).

Ms. Sedgwick: They are trying to get you to resign. Don't do it. If you do, they will get their pawn the Pima County Superintendent Dustin Williams, who is operated via remote control by the multi-talented "Mr. Conflict of Interest" Grijalva-network-player Ricky Hernandez, to appoint your replacement.

28 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Sedgwick vs. the Zombies on 02/15/2017 at 8:08 PM

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

David Safier,

Once again, you prove yourself to be an extremely non-objective blogger. I'm not sure why The Weekly allows you to write for them; I assume you all have personal bias regarding TUSD, including your editor. I have seen your posts to Kristel Foster on her Facebook page, most recently the ones where she gathered her followers to support HT Sanchez at the board meeting last night. As far as your opinion on Rachael Sedgwick, you are misguided and obviously personally aligned with other school board members. Ms. Sedgwick has been visiting many schools in TUSD since she was elected, and has shown up at some of the schools that have lost their magnet status, expressing sincere concern and offering help. She's an intelligent and thoughtful person, and she has the integrity to question the unfortunate and apathetic status quo in TUSD.

29 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Maruk on 02/15/2017 at 6:31 PM

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

The Latino plaintiffs' representative has expressed her perspective on Foster's highly tendentious, unverifiable and quite possibly slanderous account of what led to Sedgwick's submission of the agenda item. Both Campoy's response and Foster's alarmist e-mail, which was circulated to undisclosed recipients together with a plea to show up at the Board meeting and make their Sanchez-supporting perspectives heard, are available for review here:

http://threesonorans.com/2017/02/14/sylvia-campoy-responds-kristel-fosters-urgent-tusd-issue/

And many sycophants who are too ignorant or naive to recognize malfeqsance when they see it and / or who had something to gain by brown-nosing the PCDP-affiliated TUSD Board members and their little-boy-whose-naughtiness-must-always-be-excused Superintendent heard the summons and dutifully provided their nauseating commentary in the Call to the Audience at last night's Board meeting, together with a few ever-dwindling representatives of sanity and social justice, like Copeland and Putnam-Hidalgo.

"Board watchers, stay tuned?"

Board watchers: think better of your TUSD addiction and find a more worthwhile way to spend your time. There is truly nothing to see here that hasn't been seen a thousand times before and won't be seen a thousand times again -- at least for those too stupid to learn the lesson and MOVE ON.

25 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by Link to Sylvia Campoy's Persoective on 02/15/2017 at 5:23 PM

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

"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."

Interesting David. I wish you had admitted the same above when you gave all of your opinions on President Trump.

Why the double standard? Liberal bias. Once again.

13 likes, 22 dislikes
Posted by Rat T on 02/15/2017 at 2:56 PM

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

Fat bloated school districts like Tucson Unified School District One are killing public education.

Ironically, TUSD was created to save money, but that was a very long time ago. Now, because of its highly politicized and dysfunctional culture, it is making a case for and helping charter schools drain funding and students away.

This also makes TUSD a poster child for politicians looking for a quick fix and money from the charter school industry and lobbies.

If you're looking for an agile, responsive, innovative and high-performance school district it is way past time to slim down TUSD into three or four smaller districts and stop trying to fit the poor old fat guy into the track suit he outgrew 50 years ago.

40 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by sgsmith on 02/15/2017 at 2:42 PM

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

And the word came down from El Jefe Raul.

"There will be no discussion, no dissent."

And his disciples, his dependents said, "It will be.'

Break out the mariachis, Make Tucson Mexico Again!

26 likes, 24 dislikes
Posted by What, Again on 02/15/2017 at 1:27 PM

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