Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Education Funding Plans Galore

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 5:03 PM


Add one more to the current list of education funding plans.

There's a plan from Doug Ducey to take money from the state land trust funds—if he can get his plan through the legislature to put it on the ballot, then get the ballot measure passed by voters. Timeline: 2017. Then there's the non-plan plan from Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker David Gowan that wants to take less from the land trust funds than Ducey, but still take funds, and supplement that with money stolen from First Things First which is earmarked for early childhood education—that theft was blocked by the courts when it was tried before—and add a bit from the budget. Timeline: Somewhere between 2017 and never. Ed Supe Diane Douglas has a plan as well, to come up with $400 million more this year and every year from now until forever, though she's not specific about where the funds will come from. Timeline: Now, since she's calling for a special session, but she won't get very far shouting from her bully pulpit at the Dept. of Ed without a whole lot of support from elsewhere.

And now comes a Democratic plan. It's for $400 million a year, the same as Douglas' number. But the Democrats only have a ten year target and are more specific about where the money comes from. Timeline: Now, during a special session, though Democrats need some Republicans to work with them if they hope to pass anything.

Here's the Democratic education funding plan. It includes $74 million from state land trust money (I'm not sure how much of that is the standard yearly amount and how much is added), between $250 million and $278 million from the state's budget surplus, and money that will be generated by a freeze on the ceiling of the corporate private school tuition tax credit, which is scheduled to rise from a maximum of $51.6 million in 2016 to—hang onto your hats—$662.5 million in 2030. Thanks to the miracle of compound interest, the law allowing a 20% yearly hike in the ceiling for total tuition tax credit contributions from corporations results in a twelve-fold increase over 15 years.

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Arne Duncan to Propose Using Prison Funding for Teacher Salaries

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM


Education Secretary Arne Duncan is pitching a bold proposal this afternoon at the National Press Club. The gist of it is, we can save $15 billion by finding ways other than incarceration to deal with people convicted of nonviolent crimes, and we can use the money to increase teacher salaries in the twenty percent of schools with students from the lowest income families. He's not talking about a token increase. Duncan is talking about increasing salaries in those schools by an average of 50 percent nationwide. The size of the increase varies from state to state. In the case of Arizona, it would amount to a 70 percent boost.

Though Duncan hasn't given his speech as I write this, he's published a state-by-state table indicating how much money can be saved on incarceration and how it would be allocated. Here are the numbers for Arizona.
• $1,545,345,000: Current state and local spending on correctional facilities
• $320,804,508: Approximately 21 percent of the total spend on correctional facilities
• $457,841,161: Total teacher salaries in the 20% of Arizona schools with the highest percentage of students on free/reduced lunch (387 schools)
• 70 percent: Increase in teacher salaries in those schools.
Duncan's pitch is that this is a way to slow down what's called the school-to-prison pipeline. Since low income areas produce a disproportionate number of prison inmates, improving their educations might be the best way to reduce those numbers.

Is this a good idea? I'm not sure. The idea is to attract the best and the brightest teachers to those schools by giving them a financial incentive. Increasing teacher salaries in low income schools has had some success in the past, but it's been minor. And if you keep the same class sizes in Arizona, you haven't addressed a serious problem with reaching hard-to-reach students. But the idea is bold, and it's right-headed. We need bold ideas like this to get the discussion going and to address the dual problems of improving education and lowering incarceration. I've been a critic of Duncan over the years—and of Obama for sticking with the guy and his agenda—but I compliment him for this proposal.

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Cinema Clips: The Martian

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 10:30 AM

Based on an excellent sci-fi book that is far more science than fiction, Ridley Scott’s The Martian wins a Close But No Cigar award. There isn’t anything about it that’s bad, from the performances to the stunning vistas of Mars, but it strikes the wrong tone. During a manned mission to the red planet, astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead by his crew during an evacuation. But he lived, and is forced to make a go of it by himself for several years until NASA can rescue him. The book, truly, is a terrific read, one that relies less on traditional American sci-fi heroism than hacking and trial and error. At one point, Watney refers to himself as a space pirate. That’s the mood and personality the film misses. It’s too pristine, with no hints of duct tape holding it together. 

Planned Parenthood PinkOut Day Tucson

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 9:00 AM

  • Photo by David Safier
A hundred people gathered outside the Planned Parenthood office in Tucson as part of the national PinkOut Day Tuesday, Sept. 29. According to Jodi Liggett, Vice President for Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Arizona, this was one of four events in Tucson and 15 events around Arizona. Clinics offered free STD testing for anyone who came in. 

Among the speakers at the event was Bryan Howard, President & CEO Planned Parenthood Arizona. He said, "The challenge for our critics is that their criticisms don't reflect what we do every day. This year we had 35,000 patients in Arizona. Those are 35,00 people who know why we exist." He continued, "Planned Parenthood isn't going anywhere. We will continue to be a resource for young people and women and families across Arizona."

City Council member Regina Romero spoke as well. She talked about the importance of family planning in her own life and said, "We must be unapologetic about the right of every woman to decide whether or not to have a family and to plan their own family. Women must have a choice."

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We're Giving Away Some Diamondbacks Tickets (Again)

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 4:00 PM


Enter here for a shot to go to Thursday's Diamondback/Rockies game. The game (which, obviously, takes places in Phoenix) starts at 6:40 p.m. We'll pick a winner mid day Monday and that person has to be able to pick up the tickets from our Northwest office before 5 p.m. on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Enter here:

Fill out my online form.

Cinema Clips: The Intern

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Some actors are revered for their skills, others for their box office. Robert DeNiro is one of the few who has gone from being an actor you had to see to one you’re better off missing simply because his goals changed. What was the last honest-to-goodness “DeNiro movie,” not counting the blip on the radar of Silver Linings Playbook? You probably have to go back to the 1990s. In The Intern, he’s paired with Anne Hathaway, who is his boss at a blossoming New York start-up. The Nancy Myers-written-and-directed generational tale is banking on you banking on its stars. There’s nothing particularly special about any of it, outside of the notion that with all the new business models you read about, sometimes experience is still the best teacher. OK, fine. The Intern is designed to be safe and harmless, which used to be the antithesis of Robert DeNiro.

UA Scientists Present on Research on Ear Worms, or the Science of Why That Song Is Stuck in Your Head

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 11:00 AM

How and why does a song get stuck in your head?

Captivated by those very questions, a research team at the UA set out to study the phenomenon of “ear worms,” seeking to understand just what happens in the brain when a certain bit of music just shows up.

The scientists—ethnomusicologist and local NPR host Dan Kruse, associate professor of speech, language and hearing sciences Andrew Lotto and associate professor of music theory Donald Traut—will present their research at a public forum Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m. at the Playground (278 E. Congress St.).

The Arizona Ear Worm Project includes Dan Kruse, Don Traut and Andrew Lotto. - JAMIE MANSER/UA CONFLUENCENTER FOR CREATIVE INQUIRY
  • Jamie Manser/UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry
  • The Arizona Ear Worm Project includes Dan Kruse, Don Traut and Andrew Lotto.

The research is sponsored by the UA’s Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry and the public presentation is part of the center’s fall Show & Tell series.

“When we say ear worm, we mean any occasion when music is repeating in the mind involuntarily,” Kruse says. “You’re not consciously singing the song to yourself, it’s just there, in the absence of any music from the outside. The music is just going on its own.”

The project began when Kruse – who has a master’s in ethnomusicology from the UA—heard a piece on NPR about British researcher Victoria Williamson and a 2011 project studying how ear worms start.

Kruse sought out colleagues and caught the attention of Lotto and Traut, each of whom brought their own expertise to the project.

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How Disgusting: George Zimmerman Posts Graphic Photo of Trayvon Martin's Dead Body on Twitter

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 9:30 AM


With the tag "If there is a hell, George Zimmerman will one day burn in it," Mother Jones reported that Zimmerman—the dude who was acquitted of second degree murder over the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin—retweeted an image of Martin's dead body.

According to Mother Jones, the photo was first tweeted to Zimmerman by a fan (this guy has fans? Wow.) who wrote, "Z-Man is a one man army."

From Mother Jones:
After the tweet was deleted, apparently by Twitter, Zimmerman posted a tweet directing media inquiries to the phone number of a car audio shop. When I called it, a disgruntled man said it was not affiliated with Zimmerman. I asked what he meant, and he said, "It's pretty cut and dry, dude. Do you understand English?" Then he hung up. The number, it turns out, belongs to a man Zimmerman has been waging a social media campaign against.

Twitter would not comment on why they took down the photo, but the company directed me to its policy, which states that users "may not publish or post threats of violence against others or promote violence against others."

Previously, Zimmerman's tweets have referred to black people as primates and "slime."

Good day to you, Ape. Dat mean u blocked cuz. 

— George Zimmerman (@TherealGeorgeZ) September 4, 2015
Cops lives matter, black slime doesnt. 

— George Zimmerman (@TherealGeorgeZ) September 3, 2015
In August, Zimmerman teamed up with the owner of a gun store with a no-Muslims-allowed policy to sell prints of his Confederate flag art, which he says "represents the hypocrisy of political correctness that is plaguing this nation."

A screen grab of the original tweet is below the jump. The photo is censored, but upsetting none the less.

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Staff Pick

Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples breathes extraordinary life into Harper’s compositions on the record, delivering roof-raising performances with both a… More

@ Fox Tucson Theatre Sun., Jan. 19, 7:30-9:30 p.m. 17 W. Congress St.

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