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Comment Archives: stories

Re: “The Interesting Story of Holsteiner Agricultural Charter School

I spent nearly half of my professional career as a consulting civil engineer specializing in large transportation projects. When, as a consultant, I provided professional services to any government agency, I expected an audit. After all, we were using taxpayer dollars. Our salaries, our expenses, the time we worked, our overhead were all public information, all in the interest of transparency and accountability to the taxpayer. So how come the private, for profit, taxpayer funded charter schools don't have to follow the same rules?

15 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Michael S. Ellegood on 05/26/2015 at 8:21 AM

Re: “The Interesting Story of Holsteiner Agricultural Charter School

rat t, was that a compliment? Do you think I should apply for the internal auditor job?

More seriously, when you have a single school like this one that has to submit financial reports and student counts to the state and has its tax forms online, which is mandatory for nonprofits, it's possible to do some citizen oversight like this, though the information isn't granular enough to really know what's going on -- and if there's a for-profit component, it's impossible to look inside. TUSD is huge and its budget is as complex as a corporation's. So far as I know, the financial information on TUSD is available in far more detail on than I found here, but regular human beings like me can't fathom it.

16 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by David Safier on 05/26/2015 at 8:09 AM

Re: “The Interesting Story of Holsteiner Agricultural Charter School

It is just constantly amazing to me how quickly so-called conservatives who don't believe in spending money on public education even WITH massive amounts of accountability become wild-eyed blind spenders when it comes to charters paid for with public monies. The fact that they don't have to answer questions about enrollment, about teacher credentials or about financial transactions is staggering. Accountability for one should be accountability for all. And that goes not just from the state and feds to the schools, but within the schools as well. When a school employee has to fill out in triplicate exactly HOW that $20.00 was spent while an administrator from central is able to perform a "sweep"of federal monies from family engagement to a smaller class size initiative without oversight, there should be big trouble in river city......

14 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Betts Putnam-Hidalgo on 05/26/2015 at 7:40 AM

Re: “The Interesting Story of Holsteiner Agricultural Charter School

Harold, are you kidding? "We obviously are getting close to oversight at the state level..."??!! What part of this story leads you to believe that? Do you think the State is doing anything about the finances at this school? When you suggest shuttering the Dept. of Ed., are you talking about the fed or state? While the feds give some support to charter schools, this beast is entirely a creature of the State of Arizona and it's "conservative" legislature. And this story suggests to you that government needs to spend less money across the board? This story suggests that once $$ goes into charter schools, there should be public accountability and charter schools' discretion should be more limited.

14 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Jana Happel on 05/26/2015 at 6:14 AM

Re: “The Interesting Story of Holsteiner Agricultural Charter School

Look how easily David audited them. Could TUSD be in your future?

16 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by rat t on 05/26/2015 at 6:11 AM

Re: “The Interesting Story of Holsteiner Agricultural Charter School

While reading this article my first thought was who was providing the oversight for the US gov't. We obviously are getting close oversight at the state level but is that all? People are constantly on the rampage about how we need to spend more money on this that or the other yet here is another example of why we DON'T need to spend more money. As a fiscal conservative I am constantly berated for my position yet here comes a story supporting my position.
What is the answer? Maybe we SHOULD shutter the Dept of Ed and use that money in a better way though as I type this I realize the nonsense of my suggestion; expecting the gov't to be responsible with my/our money.
Good article, David. I have been following your posts with not much time to be of torment ;-}

13 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Harold R. Simpson on 05/26/2015 at 5:13 AM

Re: “A Different Perspective on the Diane Douglas/Board of Education Battles

Go after all the Charter Schools, or go after none. Nice to see Challenge Charter getting some scrutiny.

Maybe the Miller's should spend some of their salaries on a public affairs representative. Wendy Miller, please stop attempting to engage in "damage control" in the forum section, it is not helping your cause.

8 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Old Pueblo Independent on 05/25/2015 at 8:12 PM

Re: “A Different Perspective on the Diane Douglas/Board of Education Battles


Ann-Eve's Peterson's salary numbers may be wrong, but I have not see any evidence that you have furnished that this is so. Superintendents and principals even of larger/public school districts must wear "many hats" and do much outside of the job description.

As Joe Weirather notes, the audits on the ASBCS site provide little breakdown of where the money is spent. I also do not see any calculations for the 59% classroom spending you mention.

You claim Challenge has students from all backgrounds.… says that Challenge is 74% White and 11% Hispanic, with 19% Free/Reduced Lunch (in TUSD you would be deemed a Racially Concentrated school). This may be representative of the neighborhood Challenge is in, but it is not representative of Arizona.

7 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Fact Checker 13 on 05/25/2015 at 5:28 PM

Re: “The Food Truck Diaries, Volume Six: Aqui Con El Nene

The best place to eat like Mexican-Mexican food . Wow best ones in Tucson

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Tere on 05/25/2015 at 5:01 PM

Re: “A Different Perspective on the Diane Douglas/Board of Education Battles

Wendy, you write that your parents' salaries at Challenge Charter "are almost half of what has been stated here." If you look at Gene Glass' post cited in another comment --… -- Glass has a section of the charter's 990 tax form from 2013 that lists both Gregory and Pamela Miller's compensation at $121,875. I also have a copy of the school's 2008 990 tax form that lists their compensation at $141,890 and $141,936. If they misreported their compensation to the IRS, please let us know so we can correct the record.

If you want to challenge the facts in my post, that's fine. I will gladly post a correction if I've made an error. I try to keep my factual information accurate. But simply calling me and Ann-Eve Pedersen liars sheds no light on the subject.

11 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 05/25/2015 at 3:53 PM

Re: “Structured Recess and Brain Breaks

Yes, in between working on our infantile legislators to pass such a no-nonsense bill, Steve volunteers by offering PE classes to REAL children, mostly underserved ones, in TUSD. He came to one school saying "these math scores are low--these kids need PE"...thats how clear the connection is. He also has written a super cool children's story and has boundless energy and smiles for everyone at the school site. As he says, he's never met a kid he didn't like and the kids return the favor!

Steve's ideas absolutely should be a part of our mandated curriculum if we have to have one at all. The high-stakes standardized tests and all of the endless "assessments" sprinkled throughout the mandated curriculum, and then the fact that school grades and teacher pay are affected if the kids do poorly essentially mandate that no such fun "brain-breaks" will be considered otherwise.

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Betts Putnam-Hidalgo on 05/25/2015 at 1:20 PM

Re: “Structured Recess and Brain Breaks

Not sure what this is all about but if it creates brain connectivity, šŸ˜„remember playing tether ball at recess

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Grandma Suzy on 05/25/2015 at 1:08 PM

Re: “A Different Perspective on the Diane Douglas/Board of Education Battles

Spin it any way you wish there is more than enough funding for education from many levels of government. Missing is accountability.

2 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Grandma Suzy on 05/25/2015 at 12:54 PM

Re: “Structured Recess and Brain Breaks

I can attest to how good an idea this is. I can also attest to the fact that teachers already knew this, and have been implementing for at least 4 years. Some of the less physical teachers may not have had "structured" play in place, because they were often required to participate (something some older and physically challenged teachers have difficulty with), but where there's a will, there's a way! is a LIFESAVER! Students respond to it in a big way, and during transitions of 3-5 minutes, it barely takes from instructional fact, compared to all the time wasted redirecting and dealing with behavior issues, getting up and moving to goofy music videos or almost meditational offerings is much more preferable. At first, "structured play" sounds very 1984, but if done right, can give the kids a real boost physically, mentally, as well as emotionally. And since PE teachers are a thing of the past, we need this. I hope it becomes part of our "mandated curriculum", but really, it's a no-brainer idea that we don't really need to legislate, unless we are protecting it!

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Ronni on 05/25/2015 at 10:22 AM

Re: “A Different Perspective on the Diane Douglas/Board of Education Battles

An excellent interview with Ann-Eve Pedersen and excellent points. IMHO, we are missing the point and chasing the proverbial red herring. The Greg Miller/Diane Douglas issues are but side shows to the main issue. Governor Ducey is singularly focused on dismantling public education as we know it in favor of private, for profit schools. The Governor has bought into the Koch Brothers less government agenda, he is funded by them and he will do his level best to carry out that agenda - with the "speed of business".
His most recent establishment of a school funding advisory committee is loaded with charter school proponents including Mr Miller and the Goldwater Institute. Need we need more evidence?

14 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Michael S. Ellegood on 05/25/2015 at 8:49 AM

Re: “A Different Perspective on the Diane Douglas/Board of Education Battles

Wendy: I have a couple of questions in the genuine interest of educating myself.

1) I went to the state board site as you suggested, but was only able to find very high level financial data, nothing about the details or operations. Was there more that I was missing? If so, can you please direct me to it? I believe much of the pushback about charter schools is the apparent lack of transparency, and what you sent us to earlier does little to belay that.

2) Also, you've mentioned that your school have no administrative support staff to help with reporting requirements, but both of your parents hold high level executive positions with the school. What do they do if not administration?

10 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Joe Weirather on 05/25/2015 at 8:44 AM

Re: “Best Place to Donate Your Time and/or Money

When I was in the US Navy I spent time in the Dominican Republic, They are very poor and there is very little grazing land, so the few cattle there are dairy cows. SO! Believe it or not, but dog is a main food staple in this poor Caribbean country.

Posted by Ed Simmendinger on 05/25/2015 at 8:39 AM

Re: “A Different Perspective on the Diane Douglas/Board of Education Battles

This is on Gov. Ducey's page now as well as many others. It will be viral very soon.

5 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Guardians on 05/25/2015 at 8:34 AM

Re: “A Different Perspective on the Diane Douglas/Board of Education Battles

Wendy David Safier has said if you can provide factual information about what is true or not true, he will publish it. I have not seen anything like that from him and he would I know if you had provided evidence of lies. Just saying it is not true doesn't do a thing. What you said does nothing to disprove what was said and published here. I do not think business background necessarily gives anyone more credibility in education. Seems like it just teaches people how to cheat or overpay top earners. I would like to see published certificates both in education and leadership in the state of Arizona which is required by law. Being a volunteer is great but still does not require the necessary classes and ongoing professional development. Ann-Eve Pederson is not running a charter school for the amount of money you and your family are receiving. She has every right to investigate and publish her findings as a citizen even though she is far more than that. I find your justifications Wendy Miller appalling .

10 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Guardians on 05/25/2015 at 7:40 AM

Re: “Structured Recess and Brain Breaks

I am so glad you wrote about someone who really advocates for kids and their needs as well as being an extremely active volunteer. I know they are there, everywhere. We just don't see them in the news a lot. A applaud so many of these wonderful people.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Guardians on 05/25/2015 at 7:16 AM

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