Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Results-Based Funding: The Transition From Test Scores To School Grades

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 2:10 PM

We already know which schools are splitting up the $38 million in results-based funding for the 2017-18 school year. The money is going disproportionately to schools with students from the most affluent homes. The top 11 percent of schools by family income make up almost 40 percent of schools getting the funding. Even more of those schools would get the funding if it weren't for a stipulation built into the formula to make sure the bottom 50 percent of schools in terms of student income make up almost half the schools getting the money. Next year, that stipulation is gone.

Most likely in the 2018-19 school year, over 80 percent of the schools getting results-based funding will be from the top half of schools in terms of family income. That means less than 20 percent of the schools will be in the bottom half.

And yet, some schools with high income students are complaining because they're not getting their expected piece of the results-based pie. And no wonder. If a high income school makes the list, it sees close to $6,000 extra per teacher, enough to give teachers a sizable bonus and still have plenty left over for educational equipment and supplies other schools can't afford. If it doesn't make the cut, the school gets nothing.

An explanation of how this works can be mind-numbingly detailed, at least when I'm the guy doing the explaining, so I've created a table I hope will make things clearer. After that, I'll numb the minds of those who dare stick around for all the numbers and explanations.


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Let's Listen To That Awesome New Calexico Single

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Calexico has a new album, The Thread That Keeps Us, coming out in January, which makes us even more excited to travel to Phoenix for this week's Lost Lake Festival so we can hear some of the new material live.

Bandleader Joey Burns says The first single, "End of the World With You," is "sort of a love song set in troubled times."

Here's the bulletin from Joey:

We have some exciting news to share. This past spring and summer of 2017, the band and I have been busy working on a new album that's taken us to the Pacific coast of Marin, California and to John's hometown of El Paso, Texas; we also did some work in Tucson. Today we are excited to announce the release of the new album. It's titled The Thread That Keeps Us and is set to be released on January 26, 2018.

The first song we are sharing is called "End of the World with You." Inspired musically by some of my favorite indie rock bands when growing up in California (such as Pavement, Sebadoh, and The Replacements), the track is sort of a love song set in troubled times. We've made a lyric video with aerial footage from our travels from El Paso to Northern California filmed by Craig Schumacher and edited by Jonny Sanders. If you look real close you can see John, Craig and I at the very end waving hello.

You can pre-order the album from all the normal places here. We are also partnering with PledgeMusic this time around to come up with some special exclusive items like handwritten lyrics, personalized postcards from the road and signed test pressing copies that we will offer in addition to signed copies of the new album, hats, tees, and more. Make sure to check it out as some of these items are very limited!

We're going to start the tour for The Thread That Keeps Us in March with European and UK dates followed by shows in North America in April to be announced soon. The European dates will go on sale beginning Friday, and you can purchase tickets here. We're really looking forward to seeing you all and playing these new songs for you. Thanks again for all your years of love and support.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Laughing Stock: Odd as Ever; Ever Laughable

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 2:10 PM

Christopher Younggren, left is Felix, and Lawrence Fuller, right, plays Oscar in the Arizona Rose Theatre production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. - ARIZONAROSETHEATRE.COM
  • arizonarosetheatre.com
  • Christopher Younggren, left is Felix, and Lawrence Fuller, right, plays Oscar in the Arizona Rose Theatre production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple.
Last year The Odd Couple enjoyed a short revival on TV. The original series ran from 1970 to 1975, spun from Neil Simon’s repeatedly revived play about two hilariously mismatched men whose friendship withstood the crucible of sharing an apartment. One was an obsessive nit-picker; the other a slob to the bone.

The play became a wildly popular movie, which I rented for $2.99 on YouTube on Tuesday, Oct. 3, for obvious reasons. I highly recommend it if you need to make the world go away, as most of us have in the last couple of weeks.

If you’re also avoiding being alone, you can see the play in a brief run that starts Saturday, Oct. 14, at Arizona Rose Theatre Company, a year-old pop-up venue in Tucson Mall. Visit arizonarosetheatre.com for location, showtimes and reservations.

The Odd Couple is quaint in a way that reminds us of how smart the world could be in 1968, and how “woke” we are today in comparison. (The misogyny is pastel, innocent and fleeting.) The dress and manners of the era are charmingly constrained.

Yet the patented snappiness of Neil Simon’s comic dialog remains literally irresistible. If laughs are what you need, they will escape you despite your best efforts.

Arizona Rose’s General Manager Brandon Howell says the company feels ready to tackle what’s arguably Simon’s most enduring work. They’ve bulked up with popular productions of Simon’s Barefoot in the Park and Lost in Yonkers. “In fact, Howell says, “We’re going to bring that back in the Spring it was so popular last time.”

He says director Cynthia Howell, his mother and the family’s artistic director, has updated some of the most jarring anachronisms in the production’s sets and wardrobe She’s left the script almost entirely intact, though.

“That’s what we love about Neil Simon’s work,” Howell says. “His comic timing is so natural. Even in the most dramatic moments, he knows just the right time to break the tension.

“We tried to cast it so the character types fit the characters that Neil Simon wrote, Howell says. Christopher Younggren plays Felix; Lawrence Fuller plays Oscar. “Finding our Oscar was a challenge, but I think because they fit the character types so well, the relationship evolved out of the characters naturally.”

Other characters include Howell’s wife, Stephanie, as a Pigeon sister, continuing the Howell family’s long tradition of involvement since Howell’s parents, Terry and Cynthia, founded the company in 1986.

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