Monday, November 13, 2017

Trusting Entrepreneurs to Improve Education: A Cautionary Tale

Posted By on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 5:01 PM

  • Courtesy of Pixabay
"Beware of all educational enterprises that require billionaire entrepreneurs." Henry David Thoreau wrote that, or almost wrote that. His actual words were, "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes." I just updated it a bit.

Bill Gates has put many hundreds of millions of dollars into education improvement schemes, with minimal success. Now he's joining his billions with Mark Zuckerberg's billions to push personalized learning, which means more computers, more educational software and less interference from those unpredictable, unreliable humans known as teachers. Sounds like a sure-fire road to success, doesn't it?

Case in point. Max Ventilla is a serious-but-not-too-serious Yale grad in his thirties who favors jeans and t-shirts—the very picture of the modern major tech guru. He founded AltSchool in 2013, with the help of about $175 million in venture capital. Mark Zuckerberg was one of the venturers. Ventilla opened seven schools where he could try out the educational technology he's creating. His plan is to use "big data" to help schools tailor education to each student's individual needs. That means cameras monitoring every student down to facial expressions, infrared cameras keeping track of everything students touch, and, of course, microphones recording every word they say. It also means lots of screen time, monitored down to the keystroke, of course. Amass all the data, Ventilla believes, and the result will be vast reservoirs of information which can be sliced and diced to help us understand how students act and learn at the most intimate level. The Big Brother-like surveillance also means an immense treasure trove of data which can be used to tailor commercial pitches to students and their parents in the short and the long term, but that's not the purpose of the data collection—not the stated purpose anyway.

To send a student to one of the schools costs parents over $25,000 a year, which isn't much problem for a select group of folks in Palo Alto, San Francisco and New York where the schools are located. These students are on everyone's "most likely to succeed" list, so it's hard to understand what Ventilla thinks he'll learn about educating the other 99.9 percent of the population from this rarified collection of children.

Four years after opening, Ventilla is closing one school and consolidating others. Why? Not because the schools aren't working, according to AltSchool, or because it's running short of cash. It's a business decision. Ventilla says he wants to devote more of the company's energy to tapping into the growing demand for software promoting personalized learning.
"We're being realistic," Ventilla said. "In a few years time, when we raise our next round [of venture capital], we will have to show not only great success in the schools we run, but real progress in extending our platform to other schools."
Parents are upset about the sudden closures and the effects the dislocation will have on their children, but business is the business of business, not the negative impact of business decisions on former customers.

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Rosie Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 11:00 AM


Hi, my name is Rosie!

I am a 2-year-old female Domestic Medium hair looking for my purr-fect home! I am looking for a home that is as calm and quite like me. A scratching post and catnip would be nice too!
I do well with cat savvy dogs, some cats, and older kids. Come meet me at HSSA Main Campus at 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd., or give an adoptions counselor a call at 520-327-6088 x155 for more information.

Lots of Love,
Rosie (847456)

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Weekly Take: DeAndre Ayton leads Arizona into tonight's season opener against NAU

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 5:08 PM

Arizona freshman center DeAndre Ayton slams it home during the Wildcats' exhibition against Eastern New Mexico on Nov. 1. - STAN LIU | ARIZONA ATHLETICS
  • Stan Liu | Arizona Athletics
  • Arizona freshman center DeAndre Ayton slams it home during the Wildcats' exhibition against Eastern New Mexico on Nov. 1.

It’s been 232 days since we last saw Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller and his band of sweaty teenagers take to the court, but alas that streak will be snapped tonight.

Miller and company kick off a highly-anticipated campaign at 8 p.m. tonight against the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona University in what should be a glorified scrimmage.

It’ll be the first opportunity for Wildcat faithful to watch the nation’s third-ranked recruiting class play their first game against a Division I opponent.

It’ll be the first time for many of the 14,655 fans that pack the hallowed hard plastic seats at McKale Center to watch the athletic freak that is 7-foot tall center DeAndre Ayton—the number-one ranked center in this year’s high school recruiting class.

It’ll be the first chance to listen to the dulcet tones of the verbal acid trip wrapped in an enigma that is Pac 12 Network commentator Bill Walton, who will call both games in Tucson this weekend (the other being Sunday’s matinee against UMBC).

After an offseason chocked with FBI investigations, possible suspensions, Final Four droughts and NBA Draft departures, it’s sure to be a relief to Miller and Wildcat fans alike that we’re finally able to focus on the relative reprieve that is actual basketball.

It’s a new day in Tucson, with the Wildcats having the better part of eight months to shirk off their two-point heartbreak against 11th-seeded Xavier University in the Sweet 16.

The Wildcats, according to the always-reliable bookies in Vegas, have the third best odds to win a national championship, sitting at 8/1 as of Friday.

It’s time, my friends, to put away the sadness pillows and bottles of whatever spirit has lifted your spirits since that two-point Sweet 16 catastrophe, for a new season brings about new hopes of a brighter tomorrow.

Without further ado; here are the three storylines to follow ahead of tonight’s season opener:

1.  Keeping your eyes on the Baby Cats: The aforementioned Ayton, as well as guards Emanuel Akot and Brandon Randolph should get heavy playing time this weekend, with sophomore guard Rawle Alkins out for 8-12 weeks with a broken foot. Both Akot and Randolph, as well as fellow freshman guard Alex Barcello of Phoenix, and forward Ira Lee should see heavy minutes early, which will test the youngsters ahead of conference play, which kicks off against ASU on Dec. 30. This might be the most loaded team top to bottom that Miller’s ever had, which is both a blessing and a curse. How will he and first-year assistant Lorenzo Romar (of University of Washington lore) spread the ball out, and make sure that no one plays the type of hero ball that ultimately killed the Cats last spring? We’ll all have to tune in to find out, I suppose…
2. The calm before the storm? Anyone not living under a rock knows about the FBI’s investigation into alleged misconduct by former Arizona Associate Head Coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who is alleged to have taken bribes from a disgraced former sports agent in return for at least one Arizona player’s future services. What’s not understood, as of now, is whether the NCAA will eventually decide to strike against Arizona, or any of the other teams mentioned in the FBI’s investigation to this date (a list including fellow Pac 12 heavyweight USC, as well as Louisville, Miami, Auburn and more). Will Arizona be forced to pull any of its players because of said investigation? It’s hard to tell, but given Alabama’s decision to suspend whiz-kid freshman guard Collin Sexton for the season opener and Auburn and Louisville both firing at least one coach and/or administrator (in Auburn assistant Chuck Person and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich). Arizona’s already fired Richardson, but the rest of the Mess O’Potamia, to paraphrase Jon Stewart, is far from finished; the worst may yet to come for the Wildcats, given how slowly the NCAA moves when investigating a program.
3. How will Miller keep everyone happy? As mentioned above; the main issue Miller may face this season is keeping everyone on the team content, given the plethora of star power on their roster. The team’s two exhibition games, against Division II teams Eastern New Mexico and Chico State, saw junior guard Allonzo Trier and the freak of nature that is Ayton take over—with Trier scoring 32 points total, while Ayton scored 52 points with two double-doubles for Arizona. Fellow freshmen Akot and Randolph looked stellar against Chico State as well, scoring 14 and 10 points, respectively, dishing out seven assists between them. The Wildcats have the horses to make it to San Antonio (where this year’s Final Four is behind held), but can they fill roles and coalesce as a unit between now and then?

How to watch: Arizona’s games against NAU (tonight at 8 p.m.) and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (Sunday at 4 p.m.) will be televised on the Pac 12 Network

How to bet: Arizona is currently a 34.5-point favorite over the Lumberjacks. The line for Sunday’s
game against UMBC has not been posted, as of Friday afternoon.

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A UA Prof Chimes In on the 'Freedom Center'

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM

  • courtesy of Bigstock
The discussion continues. First I wrote a guest opinion in the Weekly's print edition about University of Arizona's Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, aka the Freedom Center, creating a high school course being taught in Tucson Unified and other local school districts. The next week, Michael McKenna, director of the Freedom Center, responded with a guest opinion of his own. I followed with a post about one small part of what McKenna's wrote, promising I would write more in the future.

In place of my post, here is a letter submitted to the Weekly by David N. Gibbs, Professor of History at the UA, which wasn't included in this week's print edition. It covers the main points I was planning to make and takes it a few steps further by linking the Center to state politics.
To the editor:

David Safier’s recent article brought to light disturbing connections between the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, associated with the UA Philosophy Department, and a series of far right funders, including Charles Koch. Safier noted that the Freedom Center has produced a high school curriculum that contains a strong flavor of political indoctrination.

In a Guest Opinion, Freedom Center director Michael McKenna defends his program, but if read carefully, McKenna confirms much of Safier’s original article. Thus McKenna bristles at the notion that the Koch family has influenced the center – but he concedes that they provided $1.8 million in funding, a sizable sum for an academic unit, and have played a major role in funding the Philosophy Department’s graduate program. McKenna adds that the center has received funds from approximately twenty-four other sources, including such conservative stalwarts as the Kendrick family and the Templeton Foundation. Clearly, the Freedom Center has not been hurting for funds. McKenna bristles at the accusation that the Freedom Center’s high school textbook is tendentiously slanted in favor of the libertarian economics favored by their funders; but McKenna concedes that the text “is perhaps intellectually biased.” And yes, the textbook does “favor somewhat libertarian or more generally right-leaning views.” This is hardly a model of balance.

One might add that Republican legislators have provided additional funds for the Freedom Center, and also its counterpart in Tempe. According to the Arizona Republic (4/27/16), the two freedom centers have become “academic allies” for Governor Doug Ducey and his friends. Legislators of both parties acknowledge that the two freedom centers serve ideological purposes – or to quote Republican legislator Jay Lawrence, the state funding for the centers constitutes “'a wonderful opportunity' to fund conservative viewpoints.” And in the view of Democrat Eric Meyer, the centers constitute a “think tank that spews out propaganda.”

What is this ideological Freedom Center doing at a state university? Why is the UA administration allowing this to happen?

David N. Gibbs
Professor of History
University of Arizona

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Weekly Tate: Khalil Tate and Arizona Chomping at the Bit to Host Oregon State

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 6:37 PM

Arizona sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate goes deep with a pass against USC during the Wildcats 49-35 loss last Saturday. - STAN LIU | ARIZONA ATHLETICS
  • Stan Liu | Arizona Athletics
  • Arizona sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate goes deep with a pass against USC during the Wildcats 49-35 loss last Saturday.

Have you missed out on watching Arizona’s gargantuan gunslinger Khalil Tate and find yourself with a bad case of buyer’s remorse as a result? Have you watched an Arizona defensive unit that starts five or more freshmen crush opponents in ways unseen in these parts since legends named Bruschi and Briggs roamed about?

If so, then boy are you in luck—as Rich Rodriguez, Tate and the prodigal sons of Southern Arizona will soon return to the lovingly dated confines of Arizona for a swan song of sorts this Saturday.

The Wildcats host a mystery wrapped in an enigma, to paraphrase the late Winston Churchill, in Oregon State, for the Wildcats final home game of the year.

The Beavers enter Saturday’s contest, which kicks off at 8 p.m., under interim coach Cory Hall, with a seemingly abysmal 1-8 record.

The present (and future) had a fatalistic outlook in Corvallis, especially after third-year coach Gary Andersen quit on his team—literally walking away from $12.6 million in guaranteed money.

Looks can be deceiving, however, as the Beavers have looked like a new team of-late.

They’ve come painstakingly close to winning their past three games—all coached by Hall—losing to Colorado and 20th-ranked Stanford by scores of 36-33 and 15-14.

The Beavers, in other words, are not a team that Rodriguez, Tate and company can overlook, and worthy of showing up for as a fan.

Rodriguez said as much during his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, praising the Beavers’ recent resurgence and newfound confidence.

“…Getting ready for an Oregon State team that is clearly better than their record, and has been playing really good football the last several weeks,” Rodriguez said. “I thought our guys bounded back pretty well mentally. They understand what a big game this is going to be for our seniors, this coming weekend, our last home game. We want to put on a good performance.”

A feat to remember

Speaking of Mr. Tate—the Inglewood, California native did something during last Saturday’s 49-35 loss to USC that no other Pac 12 signal caller has in the 58-year history: Rush for 1,000 yards.

Tate, who ran for 161 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 26 attempts against the Trojans, has propelled himself into the Heisman Trophy debate.

Rodriguez doesn’t believe that Tate will be affected by the newfound hype machine surrounding his meteoric rise from backup to a bona fide celebrity on the West Coast.

“That’s a great individual award and everyone wants to talk about it,” Rodriguez said of the Heisman. “But I think even the guys that are in contention of it don’t worry about it as much as winning games.”

Take me out to the (football) game

Heisman or not, Tate and company have become a must-see attraction in town, already doubling their win total from last year’s sad season-long showing.

There are plenty of good seats left for the game, with the University’s ticketing site showing price ranges from $10 a ticket in the upper deck to $405 for a suite on the 50-yard line.

This is your last chance to catch Tate and company play in town, before the Wildcats close out its season with road games in Eugene, Ore., and Tempe (plus a bowl game at a to be determined location).

There’s a well-known derogatory thought around town that football is merely an unsavory appetizer to the real show in town, that being the men’s basketball team (of course).

There are plenty of others that deserve your attention come Saturday night, such as running back Nick Wilson—who’s weathered bruises, broken bones and broken hearts to quietly put up a solid senior campaign.

There’s 6-foot-7-inch South African lineman Gerhard De Beer, who has a legitimate shot at being the first non-kicker from South Africa to play in the NFL.

There are many others that deserve your praise, and to go out knowing that all of Tucson supports their blood, sweat (and mainly tears).

Rodriguez said as much in his closing remarks on Monday, as the long-time coach knows full-well what Senior Night means to players, as well as their friends and family.

“Saturday night will be a big, emotional night for our seniors, and then we have two on the road to finish out the season,” Rodriguez said. “We have to be ready to go.”

Here’s hoping Rodriguez and company aren’t the only ones to do so.

How to watch:
Arizona and Oregon State kick off at 8 p.m. from Arizona Stadium, with ESPN broadcasting the game live.

How to bet:
The bookies in Las Vegas have Arizona as a 21.5 point favorite over the Beavers, with the over/under at 71.5

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Laughing Stock: Creative Tucson Airs It Out Live

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 3:30 PM

Jay Light, featured in the premier of Airing It Out Live, Creative Tucson's new comedy show. - JAY LIGHT
  • Jay Light
  • Jay Light, featured in the premier of Airing It Out Live, Creative Tucson's new comedy show.
You’re invited to be the laugh track when Creative Tucson broadcasts its first live comedy show, Airing It Out Live, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov 11. Next week, the show will be posted on Creative Tucson’s YouTube channel, home of Tucson Weekly editor Jim Nintzel’s weekly broadcast, ZONA Politics; the comedy news show, 5 on 20, with Rich Gary, ContantCon’s Frank Powers and others; and scores of classic cartoons and movies.

The 90-minute program’s debut features Los Angeles comic Jay Light, most familiar to fans of Comedy Roast Battles. Also featured are Tucsonans Rory Monserat, who cohosts with Cindell Hansen, a Tuesday open mic at Loudhouse; Ali Musa, who recently revived a long-standing comedy night at Mr. Heads; and newcomer Steena Salido, an Estrogen Hour favorite. Gary will host; a spotlight to be shared in future shows with Matt Ziemak, who guests in St. Louis’ comedy festival that weekend.

Gary says of the show’s genesis, “We were brainstorming ideas for our fall programming, and somebody suggested that I should do a comedy show at the station. I had been thinking awhile as how I would pull it off, then Matt told me Jay White wanted us to try and get him a show.” Gary and Ziemak now plan to produce the show monthly with known performers like Light.

Creative Tucson Studios, at 1100 S. 6th St., represents the rebirth of public access production following the demise of Channel 12. That project, innovative in the 70s, stumbled with the advent of cable TV and collapsed with the aggressive growth of the Internet. Tucson’s three production powerhouses, KXCI, Brink Media and Wavelab Studios arranged with the City of Tucson to continue public access to hands on training, production equipment and facilities to launch creative projects in streaming media. Airing It Out Live allows Tucson comedians a worldwide audience.


Don’t miss the Tucson Comedy Arts Festival 2017, with 30 improv teams from Tucson, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago headlined by Kevin McDonald of Kids in the Hall, who will appear several times throughout the Fest. See last week’s Laughing Stock for more info. Details online.


Get tickets while you can to see Paula Pounstone at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Saturday, November 18. She’s touring behind her new book, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness. Details and tickets are available online.

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Quick Bites: Dogs, Dinners and Docs

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Sips for Seniors. Seniors are the homemade popcorn of the canine world: completely underrated. Lots of people picture a spunky puppy when they think about getting a new dog, but consider the benefits of taking in a more mature mutt: they usually require less training, they’re as big as they’re gonna get, they’ve grown out of the hyperactive puppy stage, and they have lots of sage wisdom to share from their years of experience. So go adopt a senior dog! And after that (or instead of that), head over to Sentinel Peak for this event, where one dollar from every pint of beer sold will be donated to PACC to sponsor senior dogs and cats. Senior dogs will also be available for adoption on the patio, ready and waiting for your unconditional love. 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12. Sentinel Peak Brewing Co., 4746 E. Grant Road. Free entry.

Pueblo Vida Brewing Third Anniversary. Three years of serving up brews deserves three days of celebrating, wouldn’t you say? And the brewers over at Pueblo Vida are going all out with guiding tasting sessions, brewery tours, anniversary can releases of three double IPAs, an anniversary toast, pints & poses yoga, and a free “Thank you a Brunch” brunch catered by BOCA Tacos. Fiamme Pizza Napoletana will be onsite Friday, and Hot Bamboo and cakes from 5 Points Market & Restaurant will be around Saturday. Friday they’ll be tapping “best of” infusions like a peach tea double IPA, a pineapple and coconut pale ale, an orange creamsicle double IPA and a s’mores porter. Let’s just say there's definitely more going on than we can fit in a quick bite. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10. Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6. 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12. Pueblo Vida Brewing Company, 115 E. Broadway Blvd. Prices for different events vary.

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The Weekly List: 30 Things To Do In Tucson This Week

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 12:01 PM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.

Theater and Shows

Popol Vuh: The Story of Seven Macaw. Pima Community College’s newest
production is a recreation of a Mayan creation myth, in which the Mayan hero twins must come to the rescue to end the reign of terror over the earth by corrupt Seven Macaw. They use cleverness, stealth, and their convenient abilities to shape shift in order to defeat the forces of evil, while the theater artists at PCC use enormous puppets, elaborate masks and a fusion of different dance styles to tell the story. Nov. 9 through Nov. 19. Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. ASL interpreters Thursday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Black Box Theatre in PCC Center for the Arts, 2202 W. Anklam Road. $18, discounts for students, seniors, military, PCC employees and groups.

UA Dance “Premium Blend.” UA Dance, considered one of the top dance programs in the U.S., presents its fall show at the Stevie Eller Theatre, the 300-seat auditorium which will allow the audience to experience the show on an intimate level. The ensemble contains 140 dancers and performs more than 40 times each year. In the past, they’ve presented works by the likes of Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. Don’t miss an opportunity to see some of best dancing around, right in your own backyard. 7:30 on Wednesday, Nov. 15 through Friday, Nov. 17. 1:30 on Saturday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 19. Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, 1737 E. University Blvd. Tickets must be purchased in conjunction with tickets for other shows during the season, so prices vary.

Jordan World Circus. Head on over to the circus, and don’t be late, because kids will be there, adults will be there, and the Hendersons will all be there, according to the Beatles. See the classic circus aerial act and performances, as well as tigers and elephants. Perhaps best of all, kids will have the chance to ride and pet different types of animals. Don’t be late! 3 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, 1 and 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12. Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. Sixth Ave. $10 to $30.


Art Now! Makers, Crafters, Educators: Working for Cultural Change. UA art professors Elizabeth Garber, Ph.D., Lisa Hochtritt, Ed.D. and Manisha Sharma, Ph.D. are coming to MOCA to talk about their new anthology, which examines the Pinteresting ways that the DIY movement for crafters, bakers and candlestick makers has shifted our social fabric. Could a focus on arts education, grassroots crafting and DIY social design be an important way to make strides toward social justice? Learn more at this casual, interactive lecture, and enjoy some light refreshments while you’re at it. 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9. MOCA, 265 S. Church Ave. $10, or free for MOCA members.

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Staff Pick

Carnival of Illusion: Magic, Mystery & Oooh La La!

This top-rated illusion show is "Revitalizing Magic" by blending an international travel theme with all the charms… More

@ Scottish Rite Grand Parlour Saturdays. Continues through April 14 160 South Scott Ave

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