Thursday, August 17, 2017

Education Poll: Support For Charter Schools Down (And Other Results)

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 4:15 PM

  • Courtesy of Bigstock
Education Next published the results of its latest poll on education issues. As with all polls and studies, these results should be taken with many grains of salt. But Education Next is a serious publication and it has been conducting these polls for awhile, so its numbers are worth a serious look. For me, the most surprising result is that the support for charter schools is down, significantly. More on that, and other findings.

When Education Next first asked the charter school question in 2013, 51 percent supported charters and 26 percent opposed them. In the most recent poll, the numbers converged: 39 percent supporting, 37 percent opposed. The results held pretty steady until this year, when both sides changed about 12 percent. Why has support weakened? I have no idea, but interestingly, it's not connected to political party. Republicans tend to like charters more than Democrats, but both groups' support slipped by nearly the same amount. If this is a real trend which continues over the next few years, the charter movement's growth could slow considerably.

Support for vouchers went up a bit this year, and opposition declined. Lumping together tuition tax credits and government-funded vouchers, support is about 50 percent and opposition is about 35 percent. But a funny thing happens when the question refers to the use of "government funds" to pay for the vouchers. Support drops to 37 percent, and opposition rises to 49 percent. The public likes the idea of helping people pay for private school until they realize they're the ones footing the bill.

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HOCO Fest 2017 Countdown: DJ Orange Julius

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 2:50 PM

Each Labor Day weekend, the fine folks at Club Congress host the city's biggest musical bash of the year. It runs Wed. Aug. 30-Sunday, Sept. 3. The Tucson Weekly is down with it.

We're so down with it we'll be doing drive-by previews like tequila shots of bands and artists performing the Hoco Fest fest, local and international. Here's a shot of the smart, underrated
DJ Orange Julius, playing the fest on Saturday, Sept. 2.

DJ Orange Julius: It's fun deconstructing modern American consumerist culture! - COURTESY
  • courtesy
  • DJ Orange Julius: It's fun deconstructing modern American consumerist culture!

DJ Orange Julius deconstructs modern American consumerist culture: media, gaming, commodification of sex etc. In 2015’s “Gangs,” a montage of TV voices debating gangs as a threat vs. a racist construct is superimposed over the bleeps and boops of early video-game weapon fire. As he often does, Julius changes up the tempo midway through the track into a second movement, which opens up and then settles down into “187 on a fuckin’ cop.” Other times, Julius just revels in the joy of mindless repetition; “Bring It Back” sweetly recalls of Fatboy Slim’s classic “Funk Soul Brother.” This music has three major, recurrent components: sped up R&B, rap lyrics or sentiments (such as “Penetrate Dem Guts”), and complex, programmed dance beats, intentionally unsophisticated in tone, like an ’80s Yamaha keyboard. DJ Orange Julius’ cutting board manages to castrate all three usually sexy genres at once—irony is a hard groove to find and an astringent juice to swallow.

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Laughing Stock: Late Nite Laugh Lessons

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 12:33 PM

Be sure to play with your cell phone and tussle with your neighbor. Maybe snap some gum or just put on your best worst attitude. You could be part of the show as a nightmare of a nun stereotype becomes a figure of way too much fun in Late Nite Catechism. The one-loveable-badass-woman-show for all ages is at the Fox Theatre at 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 20.

Late Nite has won dozens of awards and made careers for more than a half-dozen actors. Although much of it is scripted, the most memorable parts usually happen when Sister interacts with unruly “students” in her theater classroom.

The Fox production features Patricia Hannon, who for 17 years has appeared regularly as Sister at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. As an actress and improviser in in Chicago, she had won that city’s legendary Jeff Awards for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and, with one of her two improv troupes, Best Ensemble. She also performed Sister for four years in Boston and New York.

Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan launched Late Night in 1992. Donovan originated the role, and as she took it to other major cities for long engagements, the company added Sisters to keep each production going. Hannon was the second sister added. As the production expanded nationally, it also added seven sequels. Hannon will perform the original. She’s crazy about it.

“I need to start interacting pretty quickly with the audience,” she says, “and there's a moment when you feel like 'I've got 'em’! Usually when they're stuck up and thinking 'Oh, why the hell did I come here?' those are the fun people.”

There was a time everyone needed a laugh. Hannon performed in New York City right after 9/11. “I was affected by that, as we all were. People had friends missing. How do I come back and … do comedy? I remembered those firemen walking into that building, doing their job. I thought ‘Do your job’. You know I had a lot of images when I walked in that room, but people were so ready to laugh again. They came out and thanked me and hugged me.

“Laughter is important for people.”

Tickets are $37 to $84 via Most performances end with a “collection” of voluntary donations; to date, the shows have raised more than $2 million for local charities that help retired nuns.

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The Weekly List: 20 Things To Do in Tucson In The Next 10 Days

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 9:03 AM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.


Kitty Quinceañera. Celebrate the senior kitty-zens of the Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary, and maybe even take one home to love. Aside from food and fun, the event will be offering adoption fees of only $5 for cats over 7 years old. Show your support for a local shelter and try to process the fact that you could theoretically take home 20 of these lovable furballs for only $100. (I’m not saying you should, I’m just saying you could). If you’ve been wanting a calm, older cat, now’s the time to go for it. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary 4501 E. 22nd St. Free.

Hiking with Dogs in the Desert. Have you sat down with your pup to have a chat about safety when hiking? What about trail etiquette? Do you know which trails in the area are dog-friendly? Sandy McPadden Animal Behavior Consulting is hosting this educational event about the best hiking practices when bringing along your best friend. This is a woman who worked as an animal trainer on the national tour of 101 Dalmatians, so she knows her dog stuff, and lots of it. 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17. REI, 160 W. Wetmore Road. Free.

(Shop) Local

August Indoor Rummage Sale. The WomanKraft Art Center, a nonprofit which works to validate and empower women artists and other under-represented groups, is hosting its biggest biannual fundraising bash. From toys to tools to tech gizmos, they’re practically guaranteed to have something that will strike your fancy. And since it’s held in an air-conditioned sanctuary and not in a driveway, you can browse to your heart’s content, without worrying about coming across a melting lamp, or having a heat stroke. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18 and Saturday, Aug. 19. 388 S. Stone Ave. Free.

Rescue Blooming Barrel Sale. If you’ve thought about getting a rescue dog, but weren’t quite ready to make the commitment, try starting with a rescue plant, which is an option, apparently. The nonprofit Tucson Cactus & Succulent Society is holding a sale of plants that would otherwise be plowed away by developers or AZDOT when new roads are built. Sales of specialty cacti and succulents will begin at 7 a.m., and the rescue mission begins at 8. There’s a limited number entry system (to keep things efficient). Native barrels are a’bloomin, so selection ranges from yellow to red. Stop by and brighten your home with a feel-good investment. Gates open from 7 to 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 20 Amphi Land Lab, 4342 N. 4th Ave. Free entry.

You Say It’s Your Birthday

Tucson’s 242nd Birthday Celebration! Ah, Tucson. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 242 years since our saguaro-y, monsoon-y foodie mecca started playing The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Loft every month. Okay, maybe the monthly screenings haven’t been around that whole time, but 242 years of the Old Pueblo is something to celebrate either way. Mariachi music, speeches and birthday cake will abound. Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. Historic AMTRAK Tucson Train Depot 400 N. Toole. Free.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Song of the Day: Billy Sedlmayr Weighs in on Old FM Staple 'Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo' and Johnny and Edgar Winter

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 4:12 PM

The brothers Winter: Two albino kids who grew up absolutely adoring music from the black American south. - COURTESY
  • courtesy
  • The brothers Winter: Two albino kids who grew up absolutely adoring music from the black American south.
Johnny Winter was born in Beaumont, Texas in the early '40s. He and little brother Edgar would often catch blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Bobby Bland and B.B. King on the Chitlin Circuit's lower stops.

By the time the bros began gigging they knew firsthand what prejudice could do to those inflicted, and to those inflicting. And, while they embraced black music and black culture, they felt like freaks so they chose to flaunt their albinism, long white hair, hard pale eyes and pearl skin. There has been nothing like them before or since. The best argument ever in favor of white people playing the blues.

Those boys were meant to shine.

Johnny signed a big money deal with Columbia Records on the praise of blues axeman Mike Bloomfield and the ever growing rock 'n' roll community in Texas. He had was an original voice, a searing steel guitar sound, while fearless with a hand-me-down Fender, turning rock 'n' roll tricks to further his true love—the Blues.

Edgar had started White Trash, an R&B and jazz-inflected rock 'n' roll outfit while Johnny
hit full stride with remaining members of The McCoys, (yes, Hang on Sloopy). He
carved out a whole new sound, thumb picking on the guitar to free up his fingers.

In 1970 Johnny put out Johnny Winter And, which featured the Rick Derringer-penned "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo," a two-guitar barnburner and the consummate '70s rock song. This version is spotless, tight and avoids cliche.  Johnny's voice is weathered at a young age—he was already deep into the spoon—and his vocals and guitar work are almost pleas for deliverance. He had a relationship with Janis Joplin around this time. Things were moving very fast; his heart was in blues music but his label had a full-on marketing campaign to make him a pop star of sorts, and for awhile he bought in. The records from that time are very good. He would shepherd covers, like Dylan's "Highway 61" and The Stones' "Silver Train," turning them into electrical showstoppers. He was something to see playing rock star but it'd be a matter of time till he went back to pure blues. He produced his idol Muddy Waters and erned Grammys for his trouble.
Edgar would have huge success with the instrumental "Frankenstein" (someone had to) and the FM-radio mighty "Free Ride." The brothers would do live projects together, most of which are really quite good. Lastly, Johnny and Edgar are portrayed in DC Comics' Jonah Hex (a fave of mine), a half-dead Civil War soldier/bounty hunter who crosses paths with a Johnny and Edgar Autumn, a pair of albino bros who are Texas bounty hunters.

Johnny passed away on tour, summer 2014. A real Texas bluesman.

"Lawdy Mama, light my fuse ..."

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TUSD Enrollment, 2000 to 2017

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 2:02 PM

For the past few years, I've put up a chart of TUSD's enrollment numbers beginning in 2000. The district has a detailed table of daily enrollment for those years separated out by grade, ethnicity and gender. However, it wasn't updated last year because, I was told, of a change in computer operations. I recently received the 2016-17 numbers from the district and was told the daily enrollment count will return to the district website toward the end of this year.

Here is the updated chart.
A few things before I look at the numbers. I've consistently used the enrollment numbers on the 175th day because they seem to have less random variation than other days during the year. However, the numbers I'm using this year are somewhat different than last year's. The reason is, I hadn't noticed until I looked over the numbers for this post that I had included preschool enrollment in the count, which skews the count, especially for the past school year. Preschool numbers have increased slowly over the years, but they made a big jump this past year, increasing by 300 children. If I included them in the chart, the enrollment loss for this past school year would be smaller. This corrected chart only includes K-12 numbers.

The chart shows an average decline in district enrollment of about 350 students a year from 2000 to 2007. The numbers take a plunge from 2008 to 2012, averaging about 1600 a year, then the yearly decreases slow. Over the last three years, the average loss has been about 650 students, which is an improvement from the previous seven years but still a serious problem for the district.

My chart only shows the total numbers year to year. A look at the grade-by-grade changes in the detailed district tables reveals a few problems and one bright spot.

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Cinema Clips: Brigsby Bear

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 12:37 PM

Saturday Night Live
’s Kyle Mooney stars as James, a man who loves a kid’s TV show called Brigsby Bear, and loves his parents (Mark Hamill, Jane Adams). As it turns out, he’s also a kidnapping victim, his parents aren’t his real parents, and the TV show was produced by his fake dad for him only. When authorities rescue him and he’s returned to his real parents (Matt Walsh and Michaela Watkins), James understandably has a few emotional and social issues, having never really been outside a small dwelling his entire life. His obsession with the fake TV show continues, and he aspires to continue the story of Brigsby Bear, even if it was a byproduct of his captivity.

Director Dave McCary, working from a script co-written by Mooney, delivers a surprisingly heartwarming, funny sleeper with this movie, a film that pays tribute to geek fandom (Hey…Mark Hamill!), the importance of family, new friendships, and forgiveness.

Mooney is essentially playing one of his spacey SNL characters here, and he fits in perfectly. Greg Kinnear, as a helpful policeman with acting aspirations, lends to a terrific supporting cast. Yes, it is a little weird how James remains somewhat cool headed and affectionate for his fake captor dad but, hey, it’s Mark Hamill! (there’s a nice touch involving voiceovers that just makes total sense).

This is actually one of the better films starring and SNL alumni to come out in the last few years, and shows Mooney to have a promising movie career.

HOCO Fest 2017 Countdown: Ho99o9

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 8:44 AM

Each Labor Day weekend, the fine folks at Club Congress host the city's biggest musical bash of the year. It runs Wed. Aug. 30-Sunday, Sept. 3. The Tucson Weekly is down with it.

So down with it we'll be doing drive-by previews of bands and artists performing the Hoco Fest fest, local and international. Here's a bit about the heady, adrenaline-stoked combo Ho99o9, playing the fest on Thursday, Aug. 31:

Ho99o9: Tension is critical. - COURTESY
  • courtesy
  • Ho99o9: Tension is critical.

Those who caught New Jersey’s Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror) when they hit the Moldy Pueblo on Mike Patton’s Dead Cross tour will know how much of a spectacular mindfuck they are live. Mashing Ministry’s grimy industrial scrum with Manson-esque (Marilyn and Charlie) goth-horror, some Suicide minimalism, and smart, skull-crush hip-hop that’d do Massive Attack proud, few new bands excite more than Ho99o9. The main duo of theOGM and Eaddy work together because of their musical and, perhaps, subtle ideological differences—sorta like a brainy, punk-rock Outkast. Tension is critical. On record they’re great, but live is the shit.

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Staff Pick

The Producers by Mel Brooks

Arizona Onstage Productions presents the popular and widely successful The Producers. The Biggest Hit Broadway Musical Comedy… More

@ Berger Performing Arts Center Sat., Aug. 19, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Sun., Aug. 20, 2:30-4:30 p.m., Sat., Aug. 26, 2:30-4:30 & 7:30-9:30 p.m. and Sun., Aug. 27, 2:30-4:30 p.m. 1200 W. Speedway Blvd.

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