Politics

Friday, April 19, 2019

Results-Based Funding: Watch This Budget Item

Posted By on Fri, Apr 19, 2019 at 3:51 PM

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It's coming up on state budget time, which means it's time to start looking at budget numbers while they're still in flux. For me, that means looking at education numbers. Right now, what we have is Ducey's budget proposal, so that's the place to begin.

I'm starting with Ducey's Results-Based Funding proposal. That's the extra money a select number of schools will get because they have shown "results." During its first two years, the program, gave out just under $40 million a year. Ducey wants to more than double the funding this time around. He's proposing $98.3 million, a $58 million increase.

The overall education budget is starved for cash, as it has been for years and will continue to be so long as Republicans run the government. Ducey's proposed Results-Based Funding increases the pain for most of the state's schools by taking $98.3 million out of their budget, money which should be divvied up among all district and charter schools, and hands it to a select group of schools.

If a school wants a piece of the RBF pie, the best thing it can do is serve a wealthy community. That's because schools with an "A" state grade are assured of making the list, and "A" schools are disproportionately in high rent areas. The proposed budget's extra cash will enlarge the pool of schools. That means even more schools in wealthy communities will make the cut.

Ducey has added a new wrinkle this year. His proposal would give some of the funding to "B" schools which serve low income populations.

By adding the "B" schools, Ducey hopes to leave the impression that he needs the $58 million increase for the added low income schools. It's not a lie exactly. That's where more than half of the new money will go, but plenty of it will go to expand the number of schools in high rent areas as well.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Ducey Signs Revised Anti-Boycott Law

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 4:27 PM

A protestor holds a sign in support of the Boycott Divest Sanction movement against the Israeli government. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • A protestor holds a sign in support of the Boycott Divest Sanction movement against the Israeli government.
On Tuesday Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB 1167 into law. It's an amendment of a previous law that required all government contractors to certify they are not participating in the boycott, divest and sanction movement (BDS) against Israel or Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

That law, passed in 2016, was quickly challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union in court. They argued it violated First Amendment rights to free speech and protest.

U.S. District Court Judge Diane J. Humetewa agreed and blocked the measure, writing:
"The Court also finds that the balance of equities tips in favor of Plaintiffs [contractors]. Defendants [the state] will experience little to no hardship by enjoining the enforcement of a law that does nothing to further any economic state interest and infringes on First Amendment protections. Although generally barring discrimination on the basis of national origin is a legitimate state interest, the State clearly has less intrusive and more viewpoint-neutral means to combat such discrimination. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, have shown a likelihood of irreparable harm if the Certification Requirement is not enjoined. Moreover, public interest favors an injunction as the public has little interest in enforcement of unconstitutional laws."

The state appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court, which scheduled oral arguments for the appeal on June 6. However, Arizona lawmakers successfully passed SB 1167, which avoids another loss in court.

The new law, introduced by Republican Senator Paul Boyer, "limits the anti-boycott certification to for-profit companies with more than 10 employees and government contracts worth more than $100,000," according to the ACLU. This means that many individuals and businesses who contract with the government are no longer subject to the certification.

BDS "works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law," according to the Palestinian BDS National Committee's website.

This new move is expected to make the anti-BDS law less problematic by decreasing the amount of contractors affected, but could still see further pushback from the courts.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Claytoon of the Day: Peter On Pence

Posted By on Wed, Apr 17, 2019 at 9:45 AM

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Yarmulkes, Money and Labels: Trump's Antisemitism and Racism

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 4:46 PM

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Is Trump our Racist/Antisemite-in-chief, or does he just play at it on TV and Twitter?

The nicest thing you can say about Trump's racist and antisemitic comments and tweets is what Andrew Gillum said about Ron DeSantis when the two of them were running for Florida governor: "I’m not calling Mr. Desantis a racist," Gillum said. "I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist."

I'm not running for office so I don't have to be as careful as Gillum. I'll say it without equivocation: Trump is an antisemite. Trump is a racist. Full stop.

Except that, some will counter, we know Trump will say or do anything to win the news cycle, pander to his base and vilify his enemies. Can we separate the actual prejudices festering inside his fevered brain from his slash-and-burn political tactics?

After the 2018 clashes between participants in the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and protestors, Trump said there were "fine people on both sides." Was that Trump's honest opinion or a way to assure the continued allegiance of people like neo-Nazi leader Richard B. Spencer whose post-election speech praising Trump's victory included Nazi salutes and the triumphant call, “Hail Trump. Hail our people. Hail victory!”

Me, I'd say anyone who can find a way to defend people chanting "Jews will not replace us" is an antisemite. But we're talking about Trump who lies whenever it suits his needs, so the point is open to debate.

Trump has joined other Republicans in turning Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is black, Muslim and has a foreign accent (she was born in Somalia) — she's a bigot's trifecta — into the Democratic villain du jour. Is he just looking toward 2020, or does he despise Omar as much as he says?

It's hard to tell the difference in Trump's most public statements, but we can get at the genuine bigotry inside that twisted head of his by looking at less publicized moments.

Let's start with his antisemitism. Yes, I know Jared, Trump's son-in-law, is Jewish and Ivanka converted, making her children, his grandchildren, Jewish. He dotes on his daughter and, to the extent he's capable of affection, it's possible he may actually love his grandchildren, but as anyone who has taken a close look at bigotry knows, that doesn't stop him from accepting stereotypes and harboring ill feelings toward Jews.

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Claytoon of the Day: Notre Dame Fire

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 9:11 AM

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Claytoon of the Day: Department Of Conspiracies

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 10:40 AM

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Friday, April 12, 2019

The Curious Case Of Arizona's Small School District Funding

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2019 at 1:40 PM

COURTESY OF BIGSTOCK
  • Courtesy of BigStock

Take a look at the per student expenditures in three Arizona districts.
Alpine Elementary District: $16,338 per student
Bouse Elementary: $31,381 per student
Young Elementary: $34,400 per student
That's twice to four times the average spending in the state. Now take a look at another set of figures: the number of students in each district.
Alpine Elementary District: 60 students
Bouse Elementary: 25 students
Young Elementary: 21 students
Another school district consolidation bill is being pushed in the legislature by members of the "Schools have plenty of money, they're just wasting it" club. Consolidation may be a good thing for some districts, but having the state set up mandated guidelines for consolidation is a bad idea.

(I often wonder: How is it that conservative States Rights advocates oppose city and county rights so adamantly? A possible answer: They fell in love with the Goldilocks story as children, and it carried over into their adult lives. "Congress is too big. City Hall is too small. But the State Legislature is just right.")

Coincidentally, while I was doing research for a recent post, I looked at what small districts spend per student. I came across 32 districts with fewer than 100 students that receive between $14,000 and $34,000 per student, with one outlier receiving a whopping $47,000. Looking at the state's map of school districts, I found most of the districts were large and sparsely populated, which accounts for the greater cost of educating the students.

Admittedly, this is only indirectly related to the district consolidation issue, but it demonstrates how different districts have unique sets of circumstances which can't be taken into account in a one-size-fits-all consolidation plan. Besides, the research presented me with a new and interesting perspective on Arizona education, so I figure it might be interesting to some of you too. If so, read on.

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Claytoon of the Day: A Trumpian Hole

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2019 at 10:25 AM

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