Politics

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Supervisors Approve Plan to Fix All County Roads in 10 Years

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2019 at 3:28 PM

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The Pima County Board of Supervisors have approved a new policy which will repair all of the county’s roads in 10 years and fund other infrastructure projects.

On Nov. 5, the board unanimously approved the policy which will use the General Fund to pay for capital infrastructure projects in the county, including roads in unincorporated areas.

It is a policy similar to one already being utilized in Maricopa County, and will be used by the county administrator to craft a recommended budget each year.

The Pay-As-You-Go plan (PAYGO) will provide $10 million next fiscal year for road repair, along with an additional $16 million of Transportation Department funding. Several other county departments, like the wastewater department, already use PAYGO plans for their infrastructure needs.

The majority of PAYGO funds will be used for road repairs and will later primarily fund projects identified in the Integrated Infrastructure Plan.

Funding for PAYGO will come from a percentage of growth in the overall county tax base and from recapturing a portion of the taxes no longer needed to pay off bonds, while also reducing the combined county property tax rate over time.

The Board of Supervisors voted to apply 60 percent of the tax base increase to PAYGO when the county’s annual budget is being crafted. They are also directing the county administrator to reduce the primary tax rate to provide relief for the remaining 40 percent of growth in the tax base.

The county anticipates that the amount of money needed to pay off its bond debts will decline significantly in coming years, and so the tax rate needed to pay off debts can be reduced year-over-year, declining to zero in ten years.

“This PAYGO plan will provide us the funding to make sure our critical infrastructure is maintained and that we’re meeting the needs of a growing population, while at the same time providing tax relief to county taxpayers. It is a win-win plan that still gives the board the flexibility to determine funding priorities every year,” said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry in a release.

To learn more about the PAYGO plan, see Huckleberry's memo to the board here.

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"Let Them Eat Choice" And Other Takeaways From the National NAEP Test Results

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2019 at 2:43 PM

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The 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results are out. The standardized tests, given to a national sample of 4th and 8th grade students, are considered by people across the educational spectrum to be the most accurate assessment we have of student achievement in reading and math. That doesn't mean they should be taken as gospel, but they succeed at their assigned task far better than the high stakes — and highly prepped and highly gamed — state tests, which should only be taken seriously when sprinkled with copious grains of salt.

Some takeaways from the 2019 NAEP:

• The national results aren't encouraging.
• The Arizona results are somewhat better.
• The white-minority gap is shrinking.
• The educational inequality is growing.
• Trump's queen of education, Betsy DeVos, hearing achievement is at a standstill and schools are starving for funds, replied, "Let them eat choice."

Let's break it down.

The National Center for Education Statistics administers and analyses the NAEP. According to associate commissioner Peggy Carr, "Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest-performing students are doing worse."

The math and reading achievement scores have been basically flat since 2009. Actually, they've been flat since Bush's No Child Left Behind began in 2002, when the president and the Congress decided the answer to our educational problems is testing students within an inch of their lives. Students had been making measurable progress since 1972, a period which is often thought of as the bad old days of education. We were dubbed a "Nation At Risk" because of our terrible schools, and we had to do something to fix it. What we did was turn our schools into test-prep and test-taking factories, which stalled whatever educational progress we had been making before NCLB.

Arizona, however, has done better than the nation as a whole. The state's test scores are still either at the national average or slightly below, but they have been creeping upward while the nation's haven't budged.

Why are Arizona's scores improving? No one knows. Some people say it shows money in education isn't all that important. Others say it's our dedicated teachers. Still others say our growing charter school sector is upping the state's education game. The state Department of Education says, think how much better we'd be doing if we had enough funding.

Me, honestly, I have no idea why the state scores are on an upward trajectory, other than it's a good thing.

Continue reading »

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Claytoon of the Day: Nats Play Ball

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2019 at 12:15 PM

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Monday, November 4, 2019

Claytoon of the Day: Brains Don't Burn On The Girl

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2019 at 11:42 AM

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Friday, November 1, 2019

Claytoon of the Day: Go Nats!

Posted By on Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 2:25 PM

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Claytoon of the Day: Lesbian Bong Blow

Posted By on Wed, Oct 30, 2019 at 2:28 PM

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Where Democrats Are Heading In K-12 Education Policy

Posted By on Wed, Oct 30, 2019 at 1:11 PM

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When it comes to K-12 education policy, this is not Obama's Democratic party. Today's Democrats are less privatization/"education reform" friendly and more interested in supporting and improving public — that is, district-based — schools with a two-pronged approach: make the schools a better place to learn and make the world outside of school a better place for students to live.

When Obama came to office in 2009, he was faced with two possible approaches to improving K-12 education. One was to put the blame for poor test scores on individual schools and figure out ways to force them to up their game. The other was to look at the world outside schools for factors affecting students' successes and failures, then try to improve the quality of students' lives as a path toward improving their school achievement. This isn't a binary choice, of course. Most people understand that good schools and a better environment outside of school contribute to students' attitudes and achievement. It's a question of emphasis.

Obama's education advisor during his 2008 campaign was Linda Darling-Hammond, a college professor and author who put a great deal of emphasis on improving students' lives outside of school. Instead of elevating her to Education Secretary, Obama chose Arnie Duncan, one of the people he brought with him from Chicago. Duncan had been the CEO of Chicago Public Schools and focused on the role of schools, public and charter, in helping or harming student achievement. Putting Duncan at the education department helm meant continuing the policies of the Bush administration: emphasizing high stakes testing, heaping praise on "great schools" while shaming schools with low test scores, and increasing the number of charter schools.

Since 2009, faith in the value of high stakes testing has faded and charter schools have lost their "new kid on the block" luster. Democrats' education policy emphasis has moved away from the Obama years. You can see the change on the national, state and local levels, but the clearest way to put a spotlight on current K-12 policy proposals is to look at positions taken by the leading presidential candidates.

I went through the K-12 position papers of Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. I haven't read the positions of all the other candidates — too many candidates, too little time — but those I have read are less detailed than the three front runners but not different in overall emphasis.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Claytoon of the Day: Boo Hoo Hoo

Posted By on Tue, Oct 29, 2019 at 11:59 AM

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Staff Pick

UA Dance: Premium Blend

UA Dance presents a powerful Premium Blend program of George Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments," Jessica Lang's "Escaping… More

@ UA Stevie Eller Dance Theatre Nov. 13-16, 7:30-9 p.m., Nov. 16-17, 1:30-3 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 17, 6-7:30 p.m. 1737 E. University Blvd.

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