Friday, October 18, 2019

UA Vet School in Oro Valley Receives Approval

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 11:32 AM

While the University of Arizona already teaches an undergraduate veterinary program, the new Oro Valley location will host the veterinary medicine program, more closely akin to a post-graduate medical school. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • While the University of Arizona already teaches an undergraduate veterinary program, the new Oro Valley location will host the veterinary medicine program, more closely akin to a post-graduate medical school.

The University of Arizona’s College of Veterinary Medicine, located in Oro Valley, recently received approval from the American Veterinary Medical Association. The approval came in the form of a “Letter of Reasonable Assurance,” granted by the AVMA Council on Education after they visited the veterinary school’s site this May.

The school will be the state's first public College of Veterinary Medicine, and plans to accept its first class of 110 students to begin their studies in August 2020. The College’s year-round curriculum is designed to be “competency-based” with students graduating in only three years. The students will spend their first two years in pre-clinical courses, and will engage in clinical training in private practices for their third year.

"Our goal is that students will have their hands on animals in the first week and all the way through the curriculum," said College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Julie Funk in a press release. "We have a real focus on making sure that students are learning veterinary medicine in context, looking at what they're learning in the classroom and how that relates to what they're going to do in practice."

According to the College's Clinical Rotations plan, "Third-year students will have access to normal and clinically diseased animals through a vast network of more than 250 clinical affiliates."

At full capacity the College will hold three groups of students, 110 each. These students groups will be taught within the program’s headquarters in the former Sanofi laboratory building, and at a second office facility in the Foothills Business Park. The UA also recently purchased and additional building for the College for $4.4 million, located at 10900 N. Stallard Pl.

The College of Veterinary Medicine’s first class, or cohort, of students is expected to graduate in 2023. With the school’s real-world training at zoological facilities like Reid Park Zoo, students are planned to be able to enter the workforce directly out of school.

The Letter of Reasonable Assurance is the first step in the school's accreditation classification. The next step is for the school to begin their Provisional Accreditation, which occurs on the date their first class is admitted. During this provisional period, the College must provide "semiannual reports to assure future compliance” with the AVMA. New veterinary schools are eligible for “full accreditation” after their first class of students graduate.

"We are hopeful that by being able to offer these highly skilled people a professional degree in state, they're more likely to stay in Arizona and serve the people of Arizona," Funk said.

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Democrat Kathy Hoffman Is Arizona Republicans' Enemy Number One

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 3:01 PM


National Republicans have demonized Nancy Pelosi as the "San Francisco Liberal" face of the Democratic party for years. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Maxine Waters are their latest demons of choice. The names change, but the song remains the same.

Arizona Republicans have found themselves a Democratic ogre: Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. They have launched a steady string of assaults against her, claiming she is trying to destroy the state's system of vouchers while she sexualizes school children by encouraging comprehensive sex education in schools.

There are a few reasons Arizona Republicans chose Kathy Hoffman as their Democratic bête noire.

Hoffman holds state office. That makes her visible statewide, and it also makes her especially dangerous to Republicans' stranglehold on state government. She and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs are the first Democrats to hold Arizona state office since former Attorney General Terry Goddard left in 2011. Currently, Republicans only hold a slim two seat majority in the House, meaning if a single Democrat wins a Republican seat, the House is tied. A two seat Democratic swing in the Senate would tie that body as well. The threat of Arizona becoming a purple state, of Democrats having a say in what goes on, is real. Republicans hope they can hurt Democratic candidates by painting Hoffman as the dangerously radical face of the Democratic party.

Hoffman is also a threat because she is the top educator in a state where education is one of the major battlegrounds. Think RedforEd. Think the attempts by Democrats to make charter schools more transparent and accountable. Think the Republicans' recent, unsuccessful attempt to increase the number of private school vouchers. With Hoffman at the Department of Education helm, Republicans will face resistance in furthering their privatization/"education reform" agenda.

Arizona's education policies are more than a local issue. The education wars are raging nationwide, and Arizona is the tip of the privatization spear. That's why Arizona Republicans are getting a major assist from one of the country's big money conservative education organizations, the American Federation For Children, which, not coincidentally, was founded by Trump's Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

The first major attack on Hoffman was the charge that she wanted to rob Navajo children of a good education. Ten children on the Navajo Reservation have been using Arizona voucher money to attend a private school on the other side of the New Mexico border even though the money isn't supposed to be spent for out-of-state schools. Hoffman's staff noticed the problem and said the students would no longer be able to attend the school using Arizona voucher money.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A Blogger's Credo

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 9:13 AM

  • Courtesy of BigStock

After 12 years and thousands of posts, I have found my bloggers' credo, or more correctly, it found me. A rhyming couplet, revised just a bit from the 467-year-old original.
Post o'er Land and Ocean day or night:
They also serve who only sit and write.
Works for me.

(Thanks, and apologies, to John Milton.)

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Star Gets It Right About Pima County Standardized Test Scores

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 at 2:41 PM


Since my last post was a rant about some misleading headlines in Tuesday's Star, let me begin this post by saying, the headline for this Star article is right on the money.
Pima County students lag rest of Arizona in passing standardized math tests
Here's what I like about it.

First, it focuses on Pima County, not TUSD. Star headlines and stories about standardized test scores often focus on TUSD's scores, which are always lower than most other districts in the area. Knocking TUSD sells papers, which is the only reason I can figure that the Star is so fond of going for the district's jugular. But not this time.

Second, by saying the Pima County scores are lower than the state average in math, the headline implies that county schools equalled the rest of the state in English, which you learn in the story is true. I even like the word "lag," which suggests that the math scores trail the rest of the state, but not by much. That's true as well. Statewide, 42 percent of students passed the math test. In Pima County, it was 40 percent.

A good headline is a good headline is a good headline. Let me raise my glass and toast its creators.

The story is even better than the headline. When the Star's annual standardized test stories come out, I often find myself shaking my head and muttering, "Comparing district test scores means nothing unless you factor in family incomes." Then I sit down and write a post picking the article apart.

But as I read this article, I found myself nodding "Yes." After the first three paragraphs summarizing the county scores, the reporter launches into a discussion of why the districts' scores break down the way they do.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Star's Creative Headline Writing Team Was Hard At Work In Tuesday's Print Edition

Posted By on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 at 2:07 PM

  • Courtesy of BigStock

A headline sitting atop an op-ed in the Star's Tuesday print edition jumped out at me this morning.
What's worse? Schiff's parody or GOP's fantasies?
Did the column's author really find Schiff's parody of Trump's call with Ukraine's President Zelensky bad, then try to figure out whether or not it was worse than the GOP's fantasies?

Absolutely not. The author praises Schiff's use of parody and calls the Republican outrage   "overwrought," "disingenuous" and "easily dismissible."

That's the ease conveyed by two headlines I found elsewhere.
Impeachment and the death of parody
We should mourn parody’s demise
You'll find the first version on the Star's website.

What the Star's Creative Headline Writing Team wrote is a classic example of false equivalency. "I guess both Schiff and the Republicans were acting badly," it implies. If Crisp wrote that, fine, but it's nowhere to be found in his column.

In 2010 I posted regularly about the Star's tendency to rewrite headlines to make them more conservative-friendly. I even conducted a poll where readers could choose the worst Star headline of the year. For years after that, I rarely spotted a blatantly misleading headline. Until recently, that is. In September I caught at least three of them in the print edition.

If it sounds like I'm nitpicking, I'm not. Headlines are the first thing people read — for many stories the only thing they read. When the heads don't accurately reflect the content of the story, readers get an incorrect sense of the story. Even if people read beyond the headline, those words in big, boldface type have an effect on how they understand the actual story.

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Friday, October 4, 2019

T.H.R.E.A.T. Watch: Ducey Descends To the Depths Of Trumpism

Posted By on Fri, Oct 4, 2019 at 8:52 AM


“It’s time for Judge Wake to retire. He’s an embarrassment to the legal community.”

“There are third-year law students . . . that can write a more coherent opinion than the one that he put forward.”

“He stopped being a judge and started being a politician."

“This is an activist judge."

It sounds like something from one of Trump's 3 a.m. tweet storms, but it's not. Those quotes came from our generally mild-mannered, soft-spoken Governor Ducey. That scares the hell out of me. It means the take-no-prisoners Republican strategy outlined by Newt Gingrich, honed to a razor's edge by the Tea Party and wielded like a bludgeon by Trump will not end when our current president leaves, or is driven out of office. Trump's diseased style, his politics of personal annihilation, has metastasized. It has spread over the Republican body politic. Mild-mannered Doug Ducey is the latest politician to be infected.

The reason others have adopted Trump's style is, it works. Trump has managed to neutralize or destroy his enemies and make others too fearful to challenge him. Why shouldn't Ducey and other Republicans around the country give it a try? And if it works once and there are no negative consequences, why not try it again?

Who is this politically motivated, activist judge who is an embarrassment to the legal community? He is Neil Wake, appointed by George W. Bush with recommendations from then-Senators John Kyl and John McCain. As a private lawyer, he helped Arizona's Republicans argue their case for redistricting. As a judge, he has made a variety of decisions, some favorable to Republicans, some to Democrats.

Wake is a down-the-middle judge with Republican leanings. But Ducey wasn't satisfied to say, "I disagree with Wake's recent decision," or even "Wake made a terrible decision." In Trumpian fashion, Ducey attacked the man's competence and character because of one unfavorable call. That's all it takes.

Continue reading »

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Friday, September 27, 2019

There's No Difference Between Student Performance In Charters And District Schools. So Says the U.S. Department of Education

Posted By on Fri, Sep 27, 2019 at 1:56 PM


Betsy DeVos and her Department of Education are sure charters run rings around district schools when it comes to student performance.

How sure are they? Here's one of those exquisite moments of self parody, in case you missed it:

A top Department of Ed official came to Tucson recently as part of his national tour of successful schools. He visited TUSD's University High School, proclaiming its Blue Ribbon status is proof "that Arizona charter schools have done something really unique in the past decade."

Say what? UHS a charter school?

A Star reporter (I'm guessing it was Danyelle Khmara who wrote the story) corrected him, saying that University High is a public school. Undaunted, the official corrected the reporter: “No, University High School is a charter school,” he said, then mansplained (charter-splained?) that the reporter was laboring under a "misconception" about charters.

DeVos & Co. are strict adherents of the Trump doctrine: Never let facts get in the way of a good story. If the students are high achievers, it's a charter or a private school. Any questions?

So it might come as something of a surprise that a U.S. Department of Education document released this month, School Choice in the United States: 2019, concludes there is no discernible difference between the performance of students in charter and district schools. Here's the finding from the executive summary.
In 2017, at grades 4 and 8, no measurable differences in average reading and mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were observed between students in traditional public and public charter schools.
The most recent results at the department's disposal are from 2017, and the NAEP is the closest we have to a gold standard in national standardized testing, so the study is using the best and most recent data available.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Melania Trump. The New York Stock Exchange. "Be Best." The United Nations. I'm Trying To Weave The Threads Together

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2019 at 12:07 PM

  • Courtesy of BigStock

I'm trying to figure out how to fit all the pieces into one coherent narrative.

I think I've got it: Total cluelessness.

Or maybe not. Maybe it's more than that.

"Be Best" is the unparse-able name of first lady Melania Trump's half-hearted effort to give some purpose to her stay in the White House other than her clothes (designer) and her posture (model-perfect). The wife of the Bully-In-Chief has made anti-bullying her signature issue.

Melania carried her "Be Best" crusade to The New York Stock Exchange. Because where better to celebrate the work she says she is doing for children?  According to a White House press release, there is no better place.
"The NYSE is a great example of the strength of our economic system, which allows programs to grow and to support children around the globe."
Accompanying Melania to the NYSE were ten children from the private United Nations International School, whose name includes both an institution and an idea her husband despises: the United Nations and Internationalism.

A group of parents at the school were enraged. They felt the school was being used for a photo op which implied an endorsement of Trump administration policies.

The White House thought otherwise. The children should feel honored to participate, according to the first lady's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham (who is also the current White House press secretary).
"Mrs. Trump will be taking part in an iconic New York City tradition, and encouraging children to be best, through her initiative."
And so, to celebrate "Be Best," the United Nations International School children accompanied Melania on a tour of the stock exchange and participated in, as the White House press release put it, "the timeless tradition of ringing the Opening Bell in celebration of the well being of children, a pillar of her Be Best campaign."

Cluelessness On Parade, courtesy of the tone-deaf wife of our discordant president.

Or maybe something other than cluelessness is going on. Maybe underneath the NYSE-appropriate clothing Melania wore for the event, she was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words she wore on her back when she flew to Texas to visit migrant children who were separated from their parents because of her husband's immigration policies: "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?"

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