Thank you Tucson for voting us #1. We love our Karaoke friends and a big hug for all our fantastic KJ's from Y Not Entertainment. If you haven't been here yet...we hope you'll come out and play with us on Thurs, Fri and Sat nights from 9pm - 2am. You guys rock!
Awesome Teacher has done a solid job of offering some history and perspective on behalf of people like Safier who are relatively new observers of TUSD politics and operations. To add to her discourse, it needs to be pointed out that Fagen unwisely eliminated the department that oversaw curriculum not only to save money, but also because she wrongly thought those decisions should be made at the site level. As a result, TUSD lags behind all other local districts as it seeks to develop curricula that is aligned with state standards. This is actually an area where Sanchez and his team have done some solid work, building on the efforts that were begun by Pedicone and his deputy, Menconi.
District administrators are responsible for day to day operations, but the Board sets policy that directs those operations. For far too long, predating the members of the current Board, but also including the, TUSD has been plagued by Board members who fail to grasp that critical distinction. They use their Board seats to advance personal agendas and spend next to no time learning the intricacies of the budget, the needs of the sites and the roles of all the people who are employed at both the district and site level. This distorted focus makes them easy prey for district administrators who count on their ignorance and consequent inability to ask questions about initiatives or policies those administrators want the Board to approve.
Awesome Teacher is correct to describe Grijalva as perhaps the prime example of this dereliction of a Board member's duty, but that is the model that has been followed by virtually every Board member during her sad and undistinguished tenure. Stegeman, despite other faults that cause him to be an ineffective and polarizing elected official, does get into the details of budgeting, policy and operations. It is his utter arrogance, unwillingness to consider alternative points of view and tendency to act more like a shadow superintendent than a Board member that cause him to be a negative presence on the Board...but there is no doubt that he does his homework and knows his facts. Grijalva has been on the Board longer than Stegeman and can't approach his level of knowledge.
It is telling that no Board member (except Stegeman, and he did so weakly and tentatively) questioned the extraordinary difference between the budgetary numbers presented to them first by Awwad and then by Soto. None of them (except Stegeman) have the knowledge base about the budget necessary to comment intelligently on those discrepancies! Putnam-Hidalgo's wry public comments indicate that she had some inkling of how bizarre these contrasts were, but she should have been more descriptive and less clever in what she said during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Awesome Teacher works in TUSD and has a good read on the true nature of the current superintendent, how he does business and how he treats people. Anyone who wants further insight into HT Sanchez and his record as an employer should look at the comments posted by Texans who worked with him as both a superintendent and a principal via this link: http://threesonorans.com/2014/09/25/ht-sanchez-gets-called-out-by-tusd-administrators-an-open-letter/#comment-91098. A leader's past actions and how they dealt with both supporters and opponents are good indications of how they will behave in the present, especially when they face adversity.
Given all these facts, the public needs to elect independent, hardworking and inquisitive Board members who will also work effectively and harmoniously with all their colleagues. Stegeman is a model for how to stay on top of the facts that Board members must master, but he is a horrible example of what it takes to foster consensus, compromise and direction for central office administration. So far, the only candidate who I see that fits this description is Putnam-Hidalgo, but I agree with previous commenters that some of the other candidates (Bernal, Campos-Fleenor and Darland) show promise. The one thing that is abundantly clear is that both the incumbents (Grijalva and Hicks) have demonstrated that they lack the work ethic, independence and understanding of their roles to serve as effective Board members.
You might want to order in some copies of the novel, Ghost Orchid by D. K. Christi with a beautiful picture of a ghost orchid on the cover and the mystery of ghost orchids within. dkchristi.com
Sean always played my Morrissey requests at Club Congress on Monday nights. Because of that, some of the most precious memories were created for me and my friends. Member forgotten Sean. Sleep well.
UHS has no campus of it's own, it has equipment and books that are frequently outdated (it took until October for the School Board to okay an AP text that was being used in a class they had already approved), they get no additional money or fancy anything, unlike Cat Foothills which looks like a swank JC, and Tucson High which has a huge foundation. But what UHS offers is sanctuary for kids who have been taunted and often bullied for most of their lives in other "normal" schools—because they actually really love learning. Almost every kid I know at UHS, and I know quite a few, has horrific tales to tell of how kids and sometimes even teachers treated them at their feeder "normal" schools. UHS is a school for special education because gifted kids learn differently and they need more and deeper learning strategies. If UHS did not exist, those kids would not be going back to their neighborhood schools. A large number of them would probably go to Basis as the next best choice to get an education that challenges them.
urban fresh has SUCH better choices than any of the vegan options at blue willow. that sweet potato sandwich is awful.
Great post by Awesome Teacher, but I'd like to add a comment in response to this statement: "Perhaps Darland will do fine, if she learns to wean herself away from Peterson and demonstrates that she is not totally influenced by Foster." I don't think there is any reason to believe Darland could wean herself away from Pedersen or be independent of Foster (with Grijalva a very real presence in the background even if she is not re-elected). It's about relationships: from what I've seen, Darland is deeply entrenched in this network and if she wins the election will be too indebted to them to be independent in any meaningful fashion. Two things about this group concern me deeply:
1. Many things seem to indicate that they have not put enough checks on the power of the Superintendent during the last year. A board should support the Superintendent and not micromanage him, but it should not give him carte blanche to do whatever he wants. Damaging mistakes have been made in the last year that could have been avoided if the board had been fulfilling its proper function, and if Ms. Grijalva had felt she could use her "institutional knowledge" to provide better direction for a Superintendent who was new to Tucson and in his first real superintendency. TUSD is a very troubled district and not a good place for someone who hasn't had a decade or more of experience leading a school district to "try their hand" at it. He needs more guidance and oversight than this group has seemed able to provide.
2. It seems they cannot find a way of working constructively with Stegeman. I know it's difficult, but for better or worse, he will remain on the board at least until the end of 2016. It's going to be two long and counter-productive years if we have more of the almost complete polarization and lack of a collegial, collaborative leadership style we've had since Juarez and Foster came on the board.
Among the liberal candidates, my support is going to Putnam-Hidalgo because she understands both of the above points and has character qualities that will enable her to work collaboratively with board members on both sides of the political spectrum to provide better guidance and oversight for the Superintendent. Whatever the outcome of the election, the Grijalva-Pedersen network will still have two members on the board until the end of 2016 (Juarez and Foster). They don't need a third and for the reasons stated above I think it would be very bad for the district if they controlled the majority for another two years.
Among the conservative candidates: I hope that voters understand that one of the things board members have to do is read and interpret spreadsheets and ensure that information given to them about the organization and its finances is accurate in every respect. This is not easy, especially in a context like TUSD, and it involves a skill set that can best be provided by someone with years of experience serving on non-profit boards and managing a business. I don't think, given TUSD's financial situation, it's wise to eliminate Campos-Fleenor as a likely positive contributor to the board.
During TUSD's appeal of Huppenthal's decision that the MAS Program violated state law, there were several days of testimony. During the testimony it emerged that the Governing Board...over a period of quite a few years...had not exercised its legal obligation to review and approve TUSD's curricular offerings. The focus of the appeal was the MAS program, but testimony clearly involved other subject areas as well as the English and History curricula. Judge Kowal cited this failure by a succession of TUSD Governing Boards in his decision upholding Huppenthal's action.
Great article. You've done a great service to women everywhere, particularly the naive 18-19 yr old freshmen, living on their own for the first time.
"teach men not to rape!" How's that been working out? Swimmingly, huh?
Well, juuuuust in case you don't want to trust a party full of drunk people, a little personal responsibility can go a pretty long way.
Leave your doors unlocked tonight. It's ok. We've told men not to steal, too.
Cops, take the night off! We've already told people not to drink and drive.
It's easy to be the best when you only accept the very best. Applying students can come from any school too, which means less kids who attended TUSD schools prior to enrollment. Let's not pretend UHS is a typical public school, when it is anything but. I'm glad despite AZ's dreadful national status on education Tucson had some promising schools but both our top performing high schools are gifted best of the best only admissions. If anything they are direct proof of why AZ is such a horrendous disgrace to public education. We make exclusive schools abandoning the majority.
The genius of Dan's columns is their self-infatuated inter-changeability.
Key is "I, me, me, me, me and I." The rest is just filler. Plug in a new topic, and you're good to go.
Are you kidding me! All the wonderful LOCALLY OPERATED AND OWNED framing shops in Tucson who are great and they pick Michaels. That's sad
I feel pretty compelled to ask why in the world would Tucson Weekly say blue willow (not a Vegan or Vegetarian restaurant) is the best Vegan/Vegetarian restaurant? Pretty silly. Also, saying something is delicious in it's own right, and then stating "flavor that won't have you missing the meat."
That nonsense made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.
Why would a non-vegan/vegetarian restaurant even be able to win in this category?
This is like a steakhouse winning because it has an awesome vegetarian dish.
Georgia, part of the answer is that many things in TUSD fade away through inattention rather than explicit rejection. New curricula get adopted, like the three-way elementary math adoption under Maggie Shafer, that erode coherence. The switch to the Common Core or something close to it is also making much old curricula less relevant. To say that TUSD has had no curriculum is an exaggeration, but to say that over time it has dissolved into incoherent bits and pieces is not.
That is an impressive post, "awesome teacher," even if you are not my supporter. :-) Let me know if you ever want to chat. Maybe I could persuade you that Hicks, Campos-Fleenor, and I would not be bad for teachers -- or maybe not -- but either way I like people who are paying attention and that obviously includes you.
A sneaky way to get the trooley that the citizens voted down.
I have a question which could be answered by Grijalva, Stegman, Hicks, or Cuevas as sitting board members during the period since 2000. When I retired in 2000, we definitely had a curriculum. I spent many hours on that document, and encouraged my teachers to consult it, not just leave it on the shelf. During my nearly 30 years we went through a variety of curriculum documents, some of which I had contributed to or commented on at various points. When did the existing curriculum of 2000 get repealed, and why did that happen? There is a story in there that I don't know about and which needs to be told.
chuckj says: "Facts, such as comparing private salaries/benefits with union-driven adequate salaries and lavish benefits teachers receive. Identify, please, any business that gives an employee benefit called 'tenure' by whatever name you wish."
First off, it is a fatuous exercise to compare teacher salaries with salaries in the private sector. The real comparison is comparing teacher salaries in right-to-work states like Arizona...where unions have zero power and zero clout...with the salaries of teachers in collective bargaining states, like Massachusetts and Minnesota. After you do that, compare the student achievement results from the right to work states with the union states. You will note that there is an almost one-to-one correspondence between states with high student achievement and strong teacher unions. It is called the law of supply and demand. Teachers with highly marketable skills will move to states where they can earn six figure salaries...you can pick your jaw off the floor...instead of languishing in states were they earn so little they are eligible for food stamps.
As far as tenure is concerned, there is no "real" tenure in K-12 education. At the college level, tenure is a property right and tenured faculty cannot be fired unless they commit some crime or sexually abuse students. Tenured faculty...like the one from UA recently in the news...have even plagiarized the work of students and retained their jobs. At the K-12 level, what is called tenure is nothing more than due process. It ensures that teachers who are accused of incompetence or malfeasance have an opportunity to defend themselves against these charges before a neutral third party, i.e. an arbitrator or a judge. At any rate, there is no public school teacher in Arizona who enjoys this right since the legislature has decreed that all public school teachers at at-will employees and can be fired without any cause at all. And we see how that has really improved the quality of education in our state. It is one thing to fire a teacher; it is a whole other proposition to hire a better one in a market where the salaries are so low most great teachers have little or no desire to work here.
Let me put in a shameless plug for a well-written book that provides a world of context for the attacks on public school teachers. It is called "The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession." It was written by Dana Goldstein. It turns out that blaming teachers for the problems of our country is not a new sport at all. It has been going on for more than two hundred years. The attacks have generally been led, as they are now, by the very rich who resent like hell having to pay more taxes to pay teachers a living wage in order to educate the children of the poor. The Pima County library has about a half dozen copies. The copy I have will be returned in a few days ...so reserve it now or buy it for $18.00 or so from Amazon.
My comment: Gay and Lesbians can now go from Living In Sin to ... we're not sure yet. Nothing significant will change in the lives of men and boys in Arizona who have been eloping for years. What will change is the livestyle of Divorce Attorneys and the Real Estate Agents selling them upscaled homes. But to have the first double-shotgun wedding in Arizona today that has to count for something.
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