Thursday, January 27, 2022

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2022 at 11:35 AM


Arizona Republicans this week lined up behind a measure that would discipline teachers and open them up to lawsuits if they don’t tell parents everything a student tells them — even if the student confides that he or she is gay or transgender.

The legislation, House Bill 2161, would make it illegal for a government employee to withhold information that is “relevant to the physical, emotional or mental health of the parent’s child,” and specifically prevents teachers from withholding information about a student’s “purported gender identity” or a request to transition to a gender other than the “student’s biological sex.”

The bill would allow parents to sue school districts if teachers don’t comply.

Rep. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, the bill’s sponsor, argued in the House Education Committee on Jan. 25 that the aim of the legislation is to reign in surveys sent out by schools that have made headlines in a number of states and locally. The bill also aims to allow parents additional access to certain medical records. 

“I still feel this bill is not ready for prime time,” Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, said, adding that he felt there was some merit to schools surveying students. “This bill could’ve been done without this inclusion or without the trivialization of transgender children.”

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2022 at 10:39 AM

click to enlarge ©TASHKA/123RF.COM

Maybe the real laws are the racists we meet along the way ... Resignations all around ... And watch where you protest.

Some of Arizona’s MAGA-est legislators introduced their fantasy legislation to eliminate voting as most Arizonans know it and allow lawmakers to decide election results instead.

House Bill 2596 is a multifaceted assault on the concept of democracy, but the top headline-grabbers are provisions to:

  • Outlaw mail voting and severely restrict early in-person voting 

  • Require humans, rather than machines, to count the millions of ballots cast on Election Day within 24 hours

  • Require the legislature to approve or reject the results of every election

It’s hard to overstate the audacity of lawmakers trying to give themselves authority to deny our elections, or their brazenness in trying to outlaw a secure mail-in ballot system that more than 80% of voters utilize. It’s equally hard to understate the amount of disinformation required to believe that elections would be more secure and accurate if we allowed results to be ordained by thousands of volunteers essentially counting on their fingers. 

But sometimes the point of a bill isn’t to become law. It’s to signal to your base that you hear them. And it’s clear which portion of the base Fillmore and others were trying to satisfy with HB2596.

Luckily, the bill isn’t going to become law. The first clue is its main sponsor: House GOP backbencher John Fillmore, who described the bill to Capitol scribe Howie Fischer as a return to “1958-style voting,” presumably without a hint of self-awareness. House Speaker Rusty Bowers — who stood up to the former president’s lies early on and never backed down — hasn’t even assigned the bill to committee, though that could change. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2022 at 2:33 PM

Photo by Kennedy Library | Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Republicans on Tuesday backed a bill that would ban books like “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “1984” and “The Great Gatsby” from Arizona schools because they contain frank descriptions of sex and sexuality, and that critics say would effectively make it illegal to teach about homosexuality.

The legislation bans schools from teaching or directing students to study any material that is “sexually explicit,” which the bill defines as “masturbation, homosexuality, sexual intercourse or physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks or if such person is female, breast.”

An amendment was added to the bill by Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, that allowed for classical literature, early American literature and literature needed for college credit to still be allowed — but only with parental consent. 

“We didn’t want it to get overly burdensome and exempt literature that is important,” Udall said, adding that they still wanted to give parents the ability to “opt out” of the literature with sexually explicit material. 

Although Udall repeatedly described her amendment as a way for parents to opt their children out of “explicit” schoolwork, it actually requires parents to opt their children into the work — meaning it would be illegal to teach to all students by default.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 26, 2022 at 10:53 AM

click to enlarge Good substitute teachers are hard to find. - COPYRIGHT: ANDREYPOPOV
Copyright: andreypopov
Good substitute teachers are hard to find.

Banning books is cool again ... Everyone wants to be a fake elector ... And because of term limits, nobody remembers the law of unintended consequences.

In Arizona’s latest attempt to find any adult bodies to put in front of classrooms of 30-plus screaming children, the State Board of Education this week rolled back regulations on substitute teachers.

The new rules allow emergency subs (humans holding a GED or higher) to teach for two years and remove the ban on districts essentially using certified subs as permanent teachers. 

School administrators pleaded for the stopgap solutions to pandemic strains, noting schools are still seeing massive COVID-related teacher absences and increasing full-on classroom vacancies as teachers catch the quitting bug

Dysart Unified Superintendent Quinn Kellis, for example, told the board that his district had 200 teacher vacancies and 60 substitutes on Monday. (For all you kids with math teachers out sick right now, that’s 140 vacant classrooms in one district.)

“We have vacancies just on an interim basis, but also we have many who are just leaving their jobs for the rest of the year. And it’s not that they wouldn't have continued under normal circumstances, but these are not normal circumstances,” Kellis said.

But after a decade of weakening regulations on who is fit to lead a classroom, a few more tweaks to substitute teacher rules clearly isn’t going to solve Arizona’s teacher shortage crisis. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Posted By on Tue, Jan 25, 2022 at 10:50 AM

Monday, January 24, 2022

Posted By on Mon, Jan 24, 2022 at 2:59 PM

Posted By on Mon, Jan 24, 2022 at 1:59 PM

click to enlarge Censured! - GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

Ducey v. Biden feels like a Senate run precursor ... Voting rights groups ditch Townsend's committee ... And Sinema hopes this keeps the McCain comparisons coming.

Gov. Doug Ducey shot back at the U.S. Department of Treasury with a preemptive-strike lawsuit after the feds again threatened to claw back federal anti-COVID-19 funds that Ducey has been holding over schools as a way to fight mask mandates and COVID-related closures. 

Ducey has drawn the ire of the Treasury for several programs he has created with federal American Rescue Plan Act money: one offering money to schools that don’t implement mask mandates, another offering money to parents who want to take their kids out of schools with mask mandates and a third (which the feds have not yet challenged) paying parents to move their kids from schools that close because of COVID-19 outbreaks. 

The Treasury has repeatedly warned that the first two programs aren’t what the anti-COVID funding is for, and they’ve threatened to take the money back if Ducey doesn’t stop spending it like that. More significantly, the department has threatened to withhold the next round of ARPA cash from Arizona, totaling more than $2 billion, if Ducey doesn’t change or eliminate the program. 

In the lawsuit, Ducey and his lawyers argue that the Treasury Department’s new rules on acceptable uses of the funds usurp the more lax restrictions Congress laid out in the spending package. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Posted By on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 at 11:03 AM

The folks at cannabis-themed Cheba Hut are hosting "Smoke Out Injustice Day" at their new Tucson location, 446 N. Campbell Ave.

As part of a 24th birthday celebration, Cheba Hut is teaming up with the Last Prisoner Project, which is dedicated to cannabis criminal justice reform. The restaurant will donate $1 from every sub it sells today to the Last Prisoner Project and corporate HQ will match all donations.

Given that far too many people remain behind bars thanks to cannabis offenses, this seems like a tasty way to help in the effort to end incarceration for smoking weed.

Cheba Hut is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 at 9:18 AM

click to enlarge Congressman Raul Grijalva: "I urge Arizonans to get their vaccinations, booster shots and wear N95 masks or equivalent."
Congressman Raul Grijalva: "I urge Arizonans to get their vaccinations, booster shots and wear N95 masks or equivalent."
Congressman Raul Grijalva announced this morning that he has tested positive for COVID.

“On Wednesday, I tested positive for COVID-19," Grijalva said in a statement. "I am vaccinated, boosted, experiencing mild symptoms and remain in good spirits."

Grijalva said he and his staff would test and quarantine under CDC recommendations and notify close contacts.

It's Grijalva's second bout with the illness after testing positive last summer.

"I urge Arizonans to get their vaccinations, booster shots and wear N95 masks or equivalent. We all have a role to play to protect our loved ones from COVID-19 and the risk of hospitalization, especially while Arizona is experiencing this surge.”

Posted By on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 at 9:12 AM