Wednesday, April 29, 2015

First Amendment Forum Tonight

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM

In light of several controversies near the UA, including clashes between students and Muslim mosque, Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik has put together a First Amendment Forum on "Free Speech and Civility: Striking the Balance" tonight. Here's Koz's tease of the event:

The Klan marching in Skokie, Illinois, and burning an American Flag are both considered “protected speech.” In these days of social media, you can ‘speak’ to tens of thousands of people at the click of a mouse. What’s legal? What’s appropriate? Where’s the line? What role does context play in any of those questions?

Tonight's panelists include Kathy Riester from UA Dean of Students Office; Toni Masarro, the former dean of the UA Law School; Ron Barber, the former congressman and the founder of the Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding; Rabbi Sam Cohon of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona; and Kamel Didan of Islamic Center of Tucson. Kozachik will moderate.

The forum starts at 6 p.m. at the UA Modern Languages Building, room 350.

4th Ave's Lit Home Casa Libre Moving Out of Its Venue As State Budget Cuts to Arts Begin to Trickle Down

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 9:05 AM

Casa Libre's TC Tolbert and Kristen Nelson. - PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena
  • Casa Libre's TC Tolbert and Kristen Nelson.

Casa Libre en la Solana
is moving out of the Fourth Avenue casita they've called home for more than a decade. The nonprofit, literature nest is one of many tightening the belt as Gov. Doug Ducey's poor (to be polite) budget choices begin to trickle down to local arts organizations.

In a beautifully written newsletter, Casa Libre also announced long-time assistant director TC Tolbert is saying farewell to that role and spending the next year—still in Tucson—writing his book on worldwide violence against transgender women of color—a rather not-spoken-enough-about issue. 

But amidst all the changes hitting Casa Libre in upcoming months, creator Kristen Nelson is staying positive, calling some of the changes scary, hard and disappointing, but referring to the others as exciting.

In realizing the shrinking budget could no longer afford the casita, and many programs and workshops, Nelson has been holding on hard to a metaphor a Casa Libre intern used to describe the ordeal, "It's like deadheading a flower."

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shop Local This Weekend at Mercado San Agustin's Spring Bazaar

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 5:00 PM

click image Get your local goods at MSA's Spring Bazaar this weekend. - SPRING BAZAAR / FACEBOOK
  • Spring Bazaar / Facebook
  • Get your local goods at MSA's Spring Bazaar this weekend.

Looking to buy that very special, one-of-a-kind Mother's Day bauble? Need to get a gift for a recent grad? Well, you're in luck because Mercado San Agustin is hosting their Spring Bazaar on Saturday and Sunday for all of your local handmade and vintage needs.

  • Spring Bazaar / Facebook
This year, the event will feature 42 of the towns makers, collectors and purveyors including Desert Vintage, Alexandra Queen, Valerie Galloway, Fine Life Co., Allegiant Leather, Feral Empire, Linda Cato, Popcycle Collected Artifacts and Bottle Rocket.

Students from the Western Institute of Leadership Development handmade bags and scarves especially for the event as well. some incredible bags and scarves. Proceeds from WILD goods sales will go to fund student-led ventures that seek to work towards the greater good in the community.

The Spring Bazaar will take over Mercado San Agustin, located at 100 S. Avenida del Convento, on Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3. The event is free to attend and will run from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on both days. As usual, you can also pop into Agustin Kitchen, La Estrella Bakery, Blu or Seis for a bite and Stella Java for a cup of coffee while you shop at MSA.

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Unpacking Washington Post's "Most Challenging High Schools" List

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 3:30 PM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin

I'm a little late for the party. The Star covered WaPo's Most Challenging High Schools list a week ago. But I was out of town, so now I'm making up for lost time.

The reason this is a big story locally is that three Tucson schools cracked the top ten, including two BASIS charters. BASIS Oro Valley is number one and BASIS Tucson North is number six. So what does the list mean? Here's a hint. The two BASIS campuses are both fairly new, as is BASIS Chandler, which came in number two. The more established BASIS campuses scored lower.

Before I get into the rather simple math (the list is created using a ridiculously simplistic equation), let me say I like the fact that this list calls the schools the most challenging, not the best. That's actually a reasonable description. BASIS and, I imagine, the other schools in the top 100 (University High is Number 37) make students work their asses off. They take lots of academically rigorous classes, and excellence is expected. Are they the best schools in the country? That's an impossible question to answer. What does "best" mean, and how do you measure it? But challenging? You bet they are, and students entering those schools should understand the academic challenges they'll face.

So, how are the rankings created? It's a very simple—too simple—formula: Take the total number of Advanced Placement tests (or International Baccalaureate or Advanced International Certificate of Education) given at the school and divide it by the number of graduating seniors. Here's how that looks as a mathematical equation:


To get the highest score, you need to maximize the number of students who take the tests (they don't have to pass them, just take them)—meaning you require lots of those nationally tested classes—and minimize the number of seniors.

Let's look at the BASIS Oro Valley, the top scorer on the national list with 20.44. It had a total of 206 high school students, and only 25 of them were seniors. Seniors made up one-eighth of the student body. Why so few? Oro Valley is almost brand new. This is only its second senior class. To get its 20.44 challenge score, its high school students would have taken a total of 511 AP exams, or 2.5 per student. That shouldn't be tough, since taking lots of AP classes is a requirement. Students even take one in the eighth grade.

If the school had just five more seniors, the Challenge Score would have been dropped from 20 to 17.

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Tell Me Which Tucsonans are Hilarious

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 2:30 PM

  • Flickr/Christian Schirrmacher

I really love going to comedy shows. Concerts aren't my bag: I don't know much about music, I'm a notably bad dancer and I'm 5 feet tall, making my face pretty much at elbow level—no, thank you. So, l go to comedy nights (and I'm sure some of you tall, dancing, music experts do, too). 

So, while the rest of the comedy nerds and I await next month's Eddie Izzard show, who should we go see? Who should be named 2015's Best of Tucson® Best Local Comedian? 

As always: Make your case for the most amusing local in the comments but head over and cast your vote where it counts so they get some recognition. 

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Does Supervisor Ally Miller's Chief of Staff Want To Unseat Supervsior Ray Carroll?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 1:48 PM

Your juicy rumor of the day: Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller’s chief of staff, Jeannie Davis, wants to try to unseat Supervisor Ray Carroll next year.

There is no love lost between Miller and Carroll, the two Republicans on the Board of Supervisors. Although Carroll supported Miller after she won her primary in 2012 and co-hosted a fundraiser for her that year, he soon found himself on her Enemies List after she took office.

Admittedly, Miller’s Enemies List is a long one that includes Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, the three Democrats on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, several of her former District 1 staffers, many of the reporters who have covered her at the Arizona Daily Star, your humble Skinny scribe, retired schoolteacher/furniture store owner Bob Dorson, The Loop bike path and—if her rabid opposition to the Pima County Animal Care Center expansion project last year is any indication—stray puppies and kittens. It might be shorter to catalog her “Friends List.”

Given her abrasive nature, it’s pretty clear that Miller is not going to have many victories at the Board of Supes meetings. But she remains determined to undermine Carroll, who has served on the board since 1997.

Davis, who came on as Miller’s chief of staff about a year ago, is also no fan of Carroll. In 2012, she ran the campaign of Republican Sean Collins, who tried to unseat Carroll with a Tea Party-ish campaign that complained, among other things, that Carroll opposed the Rosemont Mine and supported putting water stations in the desert to prevent migrants from dying of thirst. Apparently, the pro-death-to-migrants platform isn’t all that popular, as Carroll won that GOP primary race with 57 percent of the vote.

We’ve been told by at least one hard-right Republican that Davis—who did not respond to two emailed queries as to whether she wants to get into the race—has been telling people she wants to run against Carroll next year. If she moves forward with that plan, expect tensions on the supervisors’ 11th-floor offices to climb even higher than they already are.

Join the Conversation about Mass Incarceration in America at the YWCA

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 10:00 AM

click image The YWCA's Mass Incarceration series continues Wednesday. - YWCA TUCSON / FACEBOOK
  • YWCA Tucson / Facebook
  • The YWCA's Mass Incarceration series continues Wednesday.

As part of the YWCA's mission to empower women and eliminate racism, the community center, located at 525 Bonita Ave., is hosting a series of forums that discuss the issue of mass incarceration in America. 

On Wednesday, the second part of the series will discuss mass incarceration of women and people of color in the U.S. and how it affects the community. The event will feature the work of prison reform advocate Sue Ellen Allen as a part of the year-long Campaign for Real Justice. Allen authored the book "The Slumber Party from Hell," chronicling her own prison experience.

According to the YWCA, the fastest growing population of inmates in the country per capita is women, over 60 percent of whom are incarcerated with drug charges. Men and women of color are also impacted, especially considering individuals imprisoned due to rigid federal minimum sentencing for "crack" cocaine users.

The discussion will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29. Future events in the series are planned for September 23 and November 18.

Also, on Friday, May 1, the YWCA will be celebrating 98 years in the community with a special breakfast. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., you can enjoy breakfast in the courtyard while civil rights activist and leader Missouri senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal addresses the crowd. You can purchase tickets for the event via the YWCA website.

Editor's Note: This post has been modified to correct the date of the November 18 event.

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Arizona Board of Education Set to Review Common Core

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 8:30 AM

  • Courtesy of Shutterstock

The Arizona Board of Education has created a committee that'll be in charge of reviewing the Common Core standards for math and English language arts.

The 17-member committee—made up of Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas (who based her entire campaign on her opposition to Common Core), business owners, college deans, teachers and parents —will host a series of public hearings for input, and collaborate with "English and math experts" who will draft the new standards.

The change is expected before the end of this school year.

Last month, at the same time a bill that sought to kill the so-called College and Career Ready Standards remained alive in the state Legislature, Gov. Doug Ducey asked the board to review the standards, use the basics for foundation, dump what is perceived as unnecessary, and create language that is more in tune with Arizona. 

"We can learn from others, but at the end of the day the standards need to come from Arizona and they need to help us achieve our objectives," Ducey told the board at the time. "And in any instance during your review, you find situations where Arizona standards can outperform the ones already adopted, I ask you to replace them."

Several anti-Common Core bills died this past legislative session, as did the year before. 

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Staff Pick

Jesus Christ Superstar with Stars Ted Neeley & Yvonne Elliman

Get ready to “Sing-A-Long” this holiday season with a completely restored print of Universal Picture’s 1973 classic… More

@ Fox Tucson Theatre Wed., Dec. 11, 7-9 p.m. 17 W. Congress St.

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