Monday, September 17, 2018

Arizona Republicans Are All In For "Education Reform." Charter School Reform? Not So Much.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 9:15 AM

  • Eddie Farnsworth. Photo by Gage Skidmore, courtesy of (emoticon added)

Arizona became an early adopter in the privatization/"education reform" movement almost a quarter century ago when it opened its first charter schools.

From the beginning, the Republicans pushing charter schools had two overlapping goals: open as many charters as possible, and regulate them as little as possible. They're fine using taxpayer money to fund the schools, but their mantra has always been, "Keep your government hands off my charters!" They've kept rules and regulations as few and as toothless as possible.

As a result Arizona has the highest number of charter schools per capita in the country, though other states are catching up. We also have some of the worst examples of unchecked profiteering and what can only be described as legal corruption in the charter school sector you're going to find anywhere.

I'll get to the most recent example of profiteering and corruption involving State Representative Eddie Farnsworth (R, LD-12) in a minute, but first let me make one thing absolutely clear. Republicans have had plenty of opportunities to increase transparency and tighten financial rules on charter schools. The media has written articles about problems for years. Democratic legislators have proposed legislation to put a check on some of charter school operators' worst practices. Republicans have purposely ignored the media warnings and shot down Democratic legislation at every turn. If they retain their control over the legislature and the governor's office, nothing is going to change. You can bet money on it. However, if Democrats increase their power November 6, there's a good chance we'll see increased transparency and tighter regulation, which will, ironically, improve the quality of the charter schools Republicans hold so dear.

Now, to Rep. Farnsworth, who has figured out a way to turn charter schools into a multimillion dollar goldmine.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Nothing Scares an Arizona Republican More Than an Angry Educator

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 2:15 PM


I've never used emoticons before, but these angry little guys may be just what I need right now.

"Read my emoticon. Damn right I'm mad! I plan to stay mad through November 6. After that, we'll see."

Republicans are doing everything they can to tell Arizona educators to calm down, there's really nothing to be upset about. It's your own fault the Invest in Ed initiative isn't on the ballot. As for your salary problems, blame your school district, not the legislature or the governor. You educators shouldn't bother your pretty, pedantic little heads about all this complicated governing stuff. Just stay in to your classrooms where you belong. After you vote us back into office, don't worry, everything will be fine.

Republicans hate it when their opponents get mad. Oh, they love to rile up their own base. The Tea Party named itself after a bunch of colonists in Boston who were so pissed about taxes, they threw a shipload of tea in the harbor. Our Liar in Chief inflames his base with a steady diet of hate directed at his growing list of enemies. They know it works.They know it brings their supporters out to the polls.

Which is why they want the opposition to stay calm and quiet. Get sad, not mad. Lose gracefully.

I was surprised to find myself featured in an op ed by Jonathan Hoffman in Sunday's Star. I was the poster child and whipping boy for every educator who is angry at Republican elected officials and their fat cat donors and plans to vote them out of office. Hoffman was complaining about a quote from one of my recent posts, Don't Get Sad. Get Mad!:
“We need to be Red-hot angry over the decision by Ducey’s Supreme Court, backed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, to take the Invest in Education initiative off the ballot.”
Hoffman hated that "Red-hot angry" phrase so much, he repeated it four times. If anyone missed the point about how dangerous it is to be that angry, he warned teachers they're turning into "Antifa thugs" instead of quiet, staid "college-educated professionals."

Your problems are your own fault, he said.
"You created the problems with the Invest in Ed initiative, not the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry or the Arizona Supreme Court. So, be professional, own the screw-up, and do it right next time."
Take the blame. Slink away quietly. Lick your wounds. You can try again two years from now.

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Friday, September 7, 2018

A.G. Mark Brnovich is Shocked! Shocked! To Hear About Charter School Profiteering. (Does That Make Him the Education A.G.?)

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 9:25 AM

  • Courtesy of
Who knew? Certainly not Attorney General Mark Brnovich. "I can't believe it's not a crime!" he said when he found out that charter school operators were pocketing and investing millions of dollars the state pays them to educate our children. "I'm not only shocked, but I'm disappointed."

Brnovich must be new to the concept of privatizing government and profiting handsomely from public funding. For instance, he probably doesn't know much about the Arizona's conservative/libertarian Goldwater Institute, which advocates for privatization and deregulation. Wait, check that. He was Director of the Goldwater Institute's Center for Constitutional Government. OK, so maybe he doesn't have any real world experience with for-profit businesses which make big money by performing government services. Wait, check that too. He was Senior Director for the Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison company.

I guess it's possible Brnovich hasn't read or seen the many news stories about charter schools misusing state funds during his years in Arizona, or heard the topic mentioned in the halls of government. Possible, but not likely.

So why this sudden concern about charter schools ripping off the public and his call for "a mechanism . . . to make sure that charter schools . . . are not enriching themselves at the expense of students"? Here are four good reasons.
1. He's running for office in a year Democrats look like they have a shot at winning statewide races.
2. He has an able, hard working Democratic challenger, January Contreras, who has a strong record of serving and protecting Arizonans.
3. Education is the top issue for most Arizonans.
4. He's one of 20 attorneys general who signed onto a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. If they're successful, insurance companies can refuse to cover people with preexisting conditions. He'd rather talk about how much he loves children and education than how he's working to deny people health coverage.
The first three reasons are self explanatory. Number four deserves more explanation.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

In Which I Get FOXed, But Not OutFOXed, On the John C. Scott Show

Posted By on Tue, Sep 4, 2018 at 2:22 PM


Saturday I was a guest on the John C. Scott radio show. John and I were discussing the push to arm teachers, which I find abhorrent. A caller wanted to let me know how wrong I was. Here's what she said.
"There was a massacre in 1974 in Israel called Ma'alot. There were 31 children and 4 teachers killed and 115 people wounded. The next day the military moved into the school, and they taught the teachers how to protect the children with guns. Since 1974 there has never been another school shooting in Israel."
It's a perfect story. Children harmed, teachers armed, children safe. Perfect. Too perfect.

It's a safe bet, stories this neat and tidy are either complete lies or they leave out important details. That's why as I listened, my Bullshit Detector was maxed out at eleven, lights were flashing and sirens were blaring. But what could I do? I'd never heard of the incident, so I couldn't tell the caller she was wrong. Yet I was damned if I was going to leave what sounded like a perfect fabrication hanging there without a response.

If she was lying, or if she was retelling an inaccurate story she believed, any chance of us carrying on a reasonable discussion was gone. For people to talk about something with the purpose of understanding the issues and arriving at conclusions, not just winning, both sides have to play fair. Otherwise, it's just a question of who's better at fighting dirty.

My sense was, purposely or not, she was fighting dirty. But was the Ma'alot story she told incorrect? I couldn't be sure.

The one card I had to play was my knowledge of how restrictive gun laws are in Israel. It's much harder to get guns there than in the U.S., so the notion that their schools would be filled with gun-toting teachers doesn't make sense. Did the caller know anything about Israeli gun laws, I wondered, or was she just repeating a story she heard?

When she finished talking, I asked, "Do you know anything about how difficult it is to get a gun in Israel?" Silence. Either she knew nothing, or she had already hung up.

I took a chance, figuring the odds were with me.

After I explained how difficult it is to own a gun in Israel, I said, "With all due respect, I'm going to look this up after the show is over, but I don't believe teachers are armed in Israel's schools. I think that's a bogus argument."

After the show, I looked it up. I was right. The thrust of her argument and most of the details were wrong.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Double O Teacher

Posted By on Fri, Aug 24, 2018 at 11:56 AM

  • Courtesy of BigStock
Betsy DeVos is thinking about using Department of Education funds to buy guns for schools. Arizona Ed Supe Diane Douglas thinks state law already allows teachers to carry guns, though others beg to differ. Battles over school employees packing heat are raging across the country.

If guns are going to be put into the hands of teachers or anyone else other than school police, first, the state needs to absolve the employees of legal liability if any of them injure or kill a student or another innocent bystander.

As a retired teacher it hurts me to write about this, but it's just a simple fact. If school employees with minimal training in gun use during crisis situations are allowed to carry weapons in school, one of them is going to shoot the wrong person. It's a statistical inevitability. Police shoot innocent people, and they get far more weapons training than a school employee is likely to have. In the heat of the moment with fear and adrenaline raging, some teacher or administrator or custodian is going to choose the wrong person to aim at, or a shaky hand will jerk the gun in the wrong direction, and an innocent person will get hurt, or worse.

A school employee who shoots the wrong person will live with the mistake for the rest of his or her life, as will the family of the person accidentally injured or killed. But should the employee be held responsible — sued by the injured family or prosecuted in a court of law? The answer is no. The employee should be dealt with far more leniently than a law enforcement officer whose job it is to deal with situations involving violence and guns. People who work at school are trained to teach or administrate or perform other school-related duties, not to handle fire arms in a shooting situation.

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Staff Pick

Native Gardens

A hilarious new comedy that’s anything but neighborly!… More

@ Temple of Music and Art Sat., Sept. 8, 7:30-9 p.m., Sun., Sept. 9, 7-8:30 p.m., Tue., Sept. 11, 7:30-9 p.m., Wed., Sept. 12, 7:30-9 p.m., Thu., Sept. 13, 7:30-9 p.m., Fri., Sept. 14, 7:30-9 p.m., Sat., Sept. 15, 2-3:30 & 7:30-9 p.m., Sun., Sept. 16, 2-3:30 & 7-8:30 p.m., Tue., Sept. 18, 7:30-9 p.m., Wed., Sept. 19, 2-3:30 & 7:30-9 p.m., Thu., Sept. 20, 7:30-9 p.m., Fri., Sept. 21, 7:30-9 p.m., Sat., Sept. 22, 2-3:30 & 7:30-9 p.m., Sun., Sept. 23, 2-3:30 p.m., Wed., Sept. 26, 2-3:30 & 7:30-9 p.m., Thu., Sept. 27, 2-3:30 & 7:30-9 p.m., Fri., Sept. 28, 7:30-9 p.m. and Sat., Sept. 29, 2-3:30 & 7:30-9 p.m. 330 S. Scott Ave.

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