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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch: Last 30 Days

Re: “Greg Miller Out At the State Board of Education

Anyone who has lived in Arizona for more than a couple of years knows that politics in Arizona have always been about favoritism, nepotism, cronyism and a host of “-isms” that take from the poor (the people of Arizona) and give to the rich (politicians, special interests and, well, the rich).

What makes Arizona different from those other states with similar governments, and South American dictatorships, is our politicians – not the best that money can buy – have no long-term loyalties and will turn on each other if they think it is politically expedient or potentially profitable. This is the only thing that keeps them in check (more or less, but as of late more less than more).

Living in Arizona is like living in Hollywood’s version of the Old West. We the people are the homesteaders and pioneers just trying to make a living and a new life in this beautiful and rugged land, while our politicians are the rustlers and outlaws determined to take everything from us the easy way – not with guns in this case, but with “laws” and “propositions” – and then a stranger come to town and promises real law and order and the people vote for him or her and then we discover they are just another outlaw carpet bagger intent on stealing money and raping the land, or is it raping the people and stealing the land – whatever.

16 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by sgsmith on 08/18/2016 at 7:32 AM

Re: “Greg Miller Out At the State Board of Education

Just amazing. A private school president whose family clears almost half a million per year out of the school was running our school board. Only in Arizona.

15 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 08/18/2016 at 6:26 AM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition


You have to read the entirety of what Safier wrote, in sequence, in the weeks leading up to the passage of 123 to understand what his role was. Selectively dipping into the passages he recommends reading in specific pieces he's selected for you will not give you the whole picture.

The way he manipulated you in selecting certain passages for you to read -- out of the context in which they appeared within the frame of the weeks preceding the vote on 123 -- is like the method he used in writing about the proposition once the incorrect decision was made that the proposition, bad as it was, had to be promoted to the electorate: then we heard that it would "give 70% of the missing funding back" to the schools (inaccurate) and not much about the triggers, cap on spending for education, or unsustainable rates of distribution from the land trust.

Worse than Safier's behavior with 123 is his ongoing role vis a vis TUSD. He is not honest. He is a tool of the machine, whose conscience seems, if you read his coverage of the district for the past three years and compare what he writes with what is actually going on in the schools, to have been co-opted by the lying politicians with whom he fraternizes. He persuades some people who have no direct link to the schools to go along with his way of thinking about the district. The fact that people like him influence public opinion and voting behaviors is a large part of the reason why the correct decision, from a parent perspective, is to continue removing students from these schools: the district is not an educational institution. It is a tool of a political machine where decisions will be made by people who are placing the needs of self-interested administrators and the needs of their network of cronies above the needs of children enrolled in the schools and the need to be honest with the public about what ACTUAL conditions and problems are.

You seem to play a game of "catch me if you can," appearing now on one side and now on the other of the TUSD Board majority fence. Have you in recent weeks received enough persuasion / courting from the powers-that-be to give up your pout about how 123 funds were allocated? Is it time to get back behind your former friends in the months leading up to the election? If so, it will be another sad but TUSD-typical betrayal of the best interests of the children in these "schools."

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Questions for gcb1 on 08/18/2016 at 5:26 AM

Re: “Greg Miller Out At the State Board of Education

It will be a "reform" candidate, meaning no,"more money for REAL public schools" candidates need apply. It woll be a Phoenix area, Goldwater, maybe recycled legislative , crony.

12 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Frances Perkins on 08/18/2016 at 5:18 AM

Re: “Greg Miller Out At the State Board of Education

Wonder who Ducey wants in the job?

12 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by gcb1 on 08/17/2016 at 9:54 PM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

David, I see your point after re-reading those two posts. I really do hate to be in the position of saying I told you so about the outcome of 123, especially in TUSD. I did my best to publicize the multiple viewpoints about the likely outcomes of passage. I am not in the least surprised by Ducey's position today. Let's hope between the primary and the general election there will be a large sweep of the AZ Legislature.

3 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by gcb1 on 08/17/2016 at 9:31 PM

Re: “Want To Be a Top High School? Better Not Have Too Many Low Income Students.

To: Perspective of a teacher currently not teaching

Your point that parent satisfaction is something separate and apart from academic excellence is true. Parent surveys are not correlated with academic gains either. At least not a current levels. However, at higher levels, they are. If you want to get to the 90th percentile in academic gains, you have to be constantly improving the relationship with parents because you need perfect teamwork between parents students and teachers to pull that off.

Also, the massive Early Childhood Longitudinal Studies found that a child's attitude towards school is the best predictor of future academic gains. Directly measuring the students attitude or indirectly measuring it through the parents attitude is a must if a school is going to be in the business of improving results by managing and improving attitudes.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by on 08/17/2016 at 8:10 PM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

Douchey only looks at the bottom line, what he and his cohorts can make on any deal -- get them out!

8 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by MarcBS on 08/17/2016 at 2:51 PM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

Military bands?!?!? Research how many different military bands there are and how much Is spent
on them a year. A billion a year for "bands". If true about McSally, good for her. I finally agree with her on one thing. Doesn't mean she should be re-elected though. And dear Sg, you are correct Ducey is lying when his lips move. And he has a big supporting cast of ex house speakers. Hopefully Biggs loses the primary. Oh rats, that means he would get a job with Ducey's ex speakers job service. Maybe Children's Health care director In his 1984 world, right Regina Cobb?

4 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Frances Perkins on 08/17/2016 at 2:10 PM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

Ducey is Lucy and Prop 123 was the football.

16 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by David Lucier on 08/17/2016 at 12:01 PM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

I also disagreed with you David on the yes vote. I voted no hoping that the State Treasurer or the Legislature might take it up again. I did not agree with the ransom of already voted upon funds. Nor did I trust the constitutional changes and spending caps that were slid into the deal.

However now that it passed and we have an election coming up in which all of the state legislature seats are up for grabs, I would urge fellow voters and citizens to replace ALL of those who helped put Prop 123 on the ballot. Even if they currently claim to stand on the side of education, they helped craft or support that funding limit nightmare in some way.

I agree that Ducey has painted a clear picture in his statement about waiting for results and outcomes. I feel you are correct that no more funds will be given. Either the positive results will be "enough" and a job well done or negative results will be read as "funding makes no postive impact". Therefore either way he can craft an argument for stiffling funding to public education.

13 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Jim Howell on 08/17/2016 at 10:59 AM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

votesmartamerica? Even Politico supported her bill along with Democratic sponsor. We were spending one half a billion dollars on bands to play for generals and travel.

Lawmakers who have been advocating for reducing the size and cost of military bands — now a half-billion-dollar a year enterprise — won a key victory Thursday with passage of a provision that would bar funding for "musical units" to play at dinners, dances or social events.

The provision, the handiwork of Rep. Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel, would ensure funds are not spent on "entertaining generals, dignitaries and elected officials, all the different type of things that have nothing to do with appropriate military ceremonies" but reserved for ceremonial tasks such as funerals.

Read more:
Follow us: @politico on Twitter | Politico on Facebook

Thank you Martha.

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Don't Vote If You're Confused on 08/17/2016 at 10:52 AM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

David, your language in promoting 123 was misleading ("restore" 70% of the lost funding, which was not what the Prop did), just as the language TUSD used to promote it was misleading.

What is the point of this "next step watch," if you didn't believe, like the rest of the unbelievably naive coalition of people who shouldn't have been promoting Prop 123 but did promote it, that your sell-out could then be used to secure more funds in a "next step"?

You and the rest of this crew -- including, sadly, far too many members of the PCDP establishment, though the county party took the right position -- have demonstrated very clearly that you should not be believed, you should not be followed. You are not fit to lead on this or on other issues, including what to think of TUSD's current leadership.

11 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by The holes in your credibility are showing again. on 08/17/2016 at 10:29 AM

Re: “Want To Be a Top High School? Better Not Have Too Many Low Income Students.

If Sanchez had taken some of the $3 million in deseg funding he gave BACK to TUSD taxpayers and had invested that money strategically, in the RIGHT kinds of support programs at UHS and elsewhere in the district, both the ranking discussed here as well as the quality of experiences of disadvantaged students throughout this sad district would have been better than they are.

8 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Students will continue to suffer under Sanchez. on 08/17/2016 at 10:10 AM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

gcb1, let me refer you to two posts I wrote three weeks before the Prop 123 election. If you just read the first few paragraphs of each post, I think you'll understand where I'm coming from and realize that your "I told you so" is unnecessary. I knew what Ducey's Next Step meant back then. If you read further, you'll see why I still voted for Prop 123 (I know we disagree on that, but it states why I thought a Yes vote was the better of two bad options), and you'll find out exactly how much I trust Doug Ducey.

"Translating Prop 123 Ducey-Speak: "It's a First Step""…

"Prop 123 is a "First Step"? Let's Pretend "First Step" Means What Ducey Wants Us to Think It Means."…

2 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 08/17/2016 at 10:01 AM

Re: “Want To Be a Top High School? Better Not Have Too Many Low Income Students.

"In 1995, I ran legislation to make participation in testing by schools and school districts voluntary. It got one vote - mine."


The post shows a good understanding of the fact that test scores do not reflect school quality and includes some good anecdotes illustrating why this is the case. It would be better if a clearer explanation of why VAM measures don't work any better than test scores could be added. (Spend a year in a classroom where a student who had previously made good progress every year has parents going through an ugly divorce or a serious health challenge. Compare the progress good teaching produces in a high-SES school where kids don't go to bed hungry every night with the progress a cohort of kids living in poverty make during the next academic year with the same teacher. VAM doesn't solve the problem of measuring teacher quality any better than test scores do.

Unfortunately, parent satisfaction surveys don't tell you all you need to know either. Most parents can tell you whether their child is happy and likes school, which MAY be one measure of how engaging, humane, and developmentally appropriate the program is (if the majority of the kids aren't happy and don't like school, that may be a sign that the program is NOT engaging, humane or developmentally appropriate). But let's not forget that most parents don't know anything about the field of education and wouldn't know how to tell poor educational methods from sound methods if someone asked them to do so. Kids may be happy / entertained in classrooms that are not using the methods that will maximize their cognitive development.

The bottom line is we need a highly educated, thoroughly professionalized teaching work force that is paid well enough and supported well enough by schools' structures to attract and retain people who have other options. When you pay teachers $30K-$40K per year and don't structure schools in way that support the actual needs of students (which often require funding supplementary services) and when you don't facilitate teachers' ongoing education and self-improvement in their profession, you cannot do that. GCB1 pretty much nailed it in her much briefer post: "paying teachers a living wage commensurate with their education and experience as with other professions [...] providing the] extra personnel required to educate many more diverse and neglected students [...] acknowledging the societal changes that have required those extra personnel."

Arizona is shockingly far from doing what it needs to do and until it puts people who actually understand education in its decision-making positions, the state, its sadly neglected students, and its shamefully underpaid teachers will continue to languish in the ugly situation they are in today.

(I speak from personal experience, as a former teacher with degrees from one of the best private universities in the country and a post-baccalaureate teaching degree from the University of Arizona College of Education. I, like many credentialed teachers in this state, am in a situation where I can choose to work or not. Filling one of the available classroom positions in a state where teachers are neither adequately compensated, nor adequately valued and supported by the administrations and governance in their districts, nor adequately respected by the parents of their students is not something I will choose to do, though if I lived in Vermont or Minnesota or another state where education is understood as a profession and the school system is structured accordingly, I might.)

As for University High School, they get an F. Their rankings will continue to decline. They are in the process of being deserted by the constituencies that had been keeping their test scores artificially inflated -- enrollment from neighborhoods within TUSD where families had been leaving the district (El Encanto, Colonia Solana, Sam Hughes, etc.) and open enrollment from Tanque Verde and Catalina Foothills districts. The last three years of toxically misguided policy implementations are having their effects and will continue to do so unless the district gets better governance and administrative leadership.

8 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Perspective of a teacher currently not teaching. on 08/17/2016 at 9:53 AM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

And Martha McSally sponsored and got passed in Congress a bill taking away funds for the military bands and choirs. She is against the military. So many American enjoy the bands and choirs but no more, McSally took that away. But does she tell the voter what she done. NO WAY. Her only mission is like other Republiicans. destroy America and its way of life. Well with Donald backing her up she may just get her way

9 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by votesmartamerica on 08/17/2016 at 9:31 AM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

But the incompetent, ignorant conservatives continue to support Ducey and the GOP. Not understanding they are undermining the state, losing jobs because of uneducated kids. Naw they don't get it. Its all about voting for a party of doing nothing, except taking away from the citizens and power from the communities. All the bills Ducey signs are taking away communities power. He is the Putin now in AZ. Donald Trump keeps saying me/I. like Ducey does. The GOP belief is if people are uneducated and ignorant they will get votes.
When will they actually work to make AZ better, we have trashed streets and roads with plastic bags/bottle and cans. They are against a clean AZ state. Prefer to waste millions annually picking up all that trash. People do notice to, Ducey

10 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by votesmartamerica on 08/17/2016 at 9:28 AM

Re: “Want To Be a Top High School? Better Not Have Too Many Low Income Students.


Your analysis is just tapping the surface of the complexity of published test scores and the deeper reality of our public education system. Keep digging. Back in 1993, I set off on a journey to discover the best school in Arizona. I started by looking at the school with the highest published test scores only to realize that those test scores were lower than their scores from the previous year.

As I examined this phenomena on an excel spread sheet, I came to realize that it was theoretically possible for the best school in Arizona, meaning the school that has the highest academic gains, could have the lowest test scores in the state and that the worst school could have the highest scores in the state. The correlation between test scores and academic gains is very low, not zero, but very low.

In other words, like you are saying, the correlation between test scores and school quality is low.

Then, in 1995, I discovered a research article by Bill Sanders describing a value added system in which last years test scores, for each student, are subtracted from this years to give a "value added" measure of a schools performance.

With strict adherence to the value added system, Tennessee went downhill in the ensuing decades. Why? Likely, because we only have value added measures for 4th through 8th grade, yet the academic gains are highest in k through 3, higher in those four years than the remaining 9 years combined. Strict focus on value added measures causes the system to severely neglect the most important years of a students life.

This problem also exists at the state level. Over a period of six years, the RAND corporation did the three most sophisticated studies aimed at separating school effects (school performance) from home effects (the degree to which the home is responsible for academic outcomes). Massachusetts, the number one state in published test scores, came in 27th.

This means that education culture is always looking in the wrong direction. It extracts false meaning from the measures of performance. The Superintendent of Massachusetts was not even aware of these RAND studies. He actually believed that Massachusetts was number one. Also, the leadership of the true number one state had no clue that they were number one. In fact, that leadership was very busy changing the policies that had very likely made them number one in all three RAND studies.

This is, in a sense, a cultural disease, the widespread belief in something which is not true. In this case, it is the belief that schools create the test score that they publish.

One answer to a disease ridden feedback loop is to shut it down. In 1995, I ran legislation to make participation in testing by schools and school districts voluntary. It got one vote - mine.

The reality of this problem is that it creates a self fulfilling prophesy. Teachers flee low socio economic schools because they can't get credit when they do great work. We actually have F rated schools with academic gains (student growth percentiles) higher than the BASIS system.

I have spent the last year and a half volunteering full time, using my engineering degree to teach math, at a school for the homeless. All of the school employees were world class. The principal came from an A rated school. The teacher training both in quality of delivery and curriculum was unbelievably good. The principal worked so hard and intensely that she literally had a stroke. Everyone was working hard, really hard. The employees of this school very possibly are creating more education value than any other school in Arizona in terms of changing life outcomes for their students. They are an F rated school. That is their reward for their great work. I talked with one teacher who left after three years. She was completely exhausted and worn out, spiritually and emotionally. She had given the mission more than one hundred percent.

This school has taken the classical education system: lecture, homework, quizzes, tests and modern disciplinary systems pretty close to the limit. If the charter school board thinks they can improve Arizona education by shutting down F schools, they are insane.

Another answer to a disease ridden feedback system is to come up with an alternative. Every August, the Gallup corporation publishes the Phi Delta Kappa poll. In that poll, parents rate the quality of the school their child attends. In the most recent poll, August 2015, the next one should be coming out shortly, 24% of parents rated their child's school an "A". The equivalent of excellent.

In the Chandler Unified School district, who contracts with WesGroup to mimic the Gallup poll for their district, 75% of parents give their child's school an A rating, up from 38% in 1998 - 3 times the national average. Unlike test scores which only reflect reading and math, this measure incorporates the entire range of excellence the school district has been able to achieve from the most broad coverage of Advanced Placement classes in the state, to world class technical education to the sports.

The focus on excellence or the A rating as the standard is the key. Most school districts do a poll and look a the B rating of 80% or higher and conclude they are doing great and nothing needs to change. Last time I checked, their are 76 numbers higher than 24. Unlike any other district or charter school system in the state, Chandler Unified is busy climbing that ladder of excellence and can prove it by measurement. Its called continuous improvement and they are doing it a couple of points a year.

2 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by on 08/17/2016 at 6:11 AM

Re: “Ducey 'Next Step' Watch: Day 89. "No More Reading Tea Leaves" Edition

Q. You know how to tell when Governor Ducey is lying?
A. His lips are moving.

An old joke, but after so many examples of Ducey duplicity, it isn’t funny anymore.

26 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by sgsmith on 08/17/2016 at 4:28 AM

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