Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Streets of This Town: The Nightwatchman

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 7:00 PM

The Nightwatchman. - BRIAN SMITH
  • Brian Smith
  • The Nightwatchman.

"Streets of This Town" is a little daily photo series featuring random pics I take on long walks through Tucson—to sort of coincide with Tucson Salvage.

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Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 6:00 PM

PHOTOSPIN
  • PhotoSpin
Once again, BASIS swept the U.S. News & World Report's list of best public high schools, taking five of the top seven places. University High placed number 15. Does that mean BASIS has five of the seven best schools in the country and University High is the 15th best? Only if you think "best school" means a place filled with high achieving students who take lots and lots of Advanced Placement classes and tests. The more AP courses seniors have taken and the more tests they've passed, the higher a school's ranking. AP courses are the basis of the BASIS curriculum. University High emphasizes the courses, but not quite as much.

Unfortunately, if you read the Star's misleading front page article, you get a different, and incorrect, picture of how a high school makes it to the top.

To get a high U.S. News ranking, you have to jump over a few hurdles, like performance on state tests and graduation rates, to be in contention. Once you've cleared those hurdles, a school's ranking is based totally—not partially, totally—on how many Advanced Placement classes seniors have taken and how well they do on the tests. That's it. This year, the contest didn't even include the International Baccalaureate program as it has in the past. It was all AP, all the time.

Someone who read the Star article would think the ranking uses a more complex, inclusive formula where AP course work is "considered." Nope. Not so. Here's what the Star wrote about the ranking process with my comments and corrections in brackets.
The list, published annually, looks at data from more than 22,000 schools focusing on student outcomes with an emphasis on graduation rates [Nope. If graduation rates are 75 percent or higher, you make it into the all-important AP round.] and state proficiency tests [Nope. If you're in the top 10 percent in state test scores, or lower if you have more economically disadvantaged students, you make it into the all-important AP round]. Diversity [Doesn't matter if you're in the top 10 percent in state test scores], enrollment [Of very little importance], participation in free and reduced-price lunch programs [Nope. BASIS schools don't have free/reduced lunch, so under that category, U.S. News simply says "Not Applicable"] and Advance Placement are also considered [Misleading. AP isn't simply considered, it's the only thing that matters once a school makes it into the all-important final round].

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Documentary Hot Damn Makes its World Premiere in the Old Pueblo This Sunday!

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 5:02 PM

Still from Tucson Hot Damn. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Still from Tucson Hot Damn.

With no shame and no regret, award-winning Canadian filmmaker—by way of New York—Jefferson Moneo offers an unabashed look at the eclecticism of Tucson’s arts scene in his 18-minute documentary film Tucson Hot Damn.

Tucson Hot Damn makes its world premiere at the 2017 Arizona International Film Festival as part of The Tucson Happening, a music, performance and film event that closes the fest, which began Wednesday, April 19, and ends Sunday, April 30. (Go here for more info: filmfestivalarizona.com.)

Moneo’s affinity for Tucson served as incubator where the doc’s seeds germinated and took root. “I love Tucson; the town, the desert, and especially the people,” Moneo says. “For the past decade, I've been making the pilgrimage to Tucson for the Arizona International Film Festival. There's a reason I keep coming back.”
Still from Hot Damn: Photographer Eric Kroll and model in his garage at home in the Santa Catalina foothills. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Still from Hot Damn: Photographer Eric Kroll and model in his garage at home in the Santa Catalina foothills.

A sentiment echoed in wordsmith Billy Sedlmayr’s lyrics (from the song “Tucson Kills” featured in the film).

Well I left a dozen times
But I always crawl back against my will
Yeah, Tucson kills

Without borders—rising from 6th Avenue underpass downtown, whose surrounding warehouses have served as fertile spawning ground for artistic creativity, to the grit, symbolic decrepitude and skeletal remains of the once iconic Spanish Trail Motel sign off of I-10─Tucson Hot Damn takes the viewer on a journey in vignettes that capture artists at work and play; from the rawness of a soulful blues mouth-harpist to the effortless technicality of a classically trained violinist. In filmic prose, this short promises to be a trip down the rabbit hole on a wild and magical ride through "The Weird Capital of the World" featuring the music of beloved homeboys Brian Lopez, Gabriel Sullivan and Sedlmayr.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Joe Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 12:00 PM

joe_841326.jpg
Hi, I'm Joe!

I'm a 5-year-old boy, looking for a home! I was transferred to HSSA from a different shelter, but since being here I have made many friends!

I get along well with my kennel mate, and love to meet new people. I'm a very sweet dog, and will make a great pet!

If you're looking for a loyal dog to join your home I might be the perfect fit! Stop by HSSA Main Campus at 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd. to meet me today, or give an adoption counselor a call at 520-327-6088 ext 173 for more information!

Lots of love,
Joe (841326)

Good, Available Child Care Benefits Society

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 11:11 AM

FLICKR
  • Flickr
Quality child care is helpful to children and their parents, and though it's expensive in the short term, it's cost effective in the long term. And we spend half as much of our Gross National Product on it as the average industrialized country.

All this information is in a New York Times article. The surprise is, it's in the business section, not a section about child rearing or education. But it's not out of place among articles about finances and the economy, because, even disregarding its value as a societal good, quality child care makes good economic sense.
[R]ecent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults.
A recent study out of the University of Chicago looks at two long-term studies out of North Carolina where young children from low-income families received free, full-time child care. The children and their families were compared to a control group. The mothers of the children in child care earned more than those in a control group, which is no surprise, but they were still earning more twenty years later. The children stayed in school longer, and they earned more as well. The study found that at age 30, the men who had been in quality child care earned almost $20,000 more a year than the control group and the women earned $2,500 more. The researchers admit that the small sample size of the study means that $20,000 figure for the men likely isn't representative, but even if it were considerably less, it would still be significant.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

In The Flesh: Let's Live A Little at Invisible Theatre is a Mouthful That Rewards, Challenges

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 5:05 PM

Sam Scarborough (Jack Neubeck) tries to convince his granddaughter Lily (Lucille Petty) to stay in town and help out at his florist Shop while Lily has dreams of moving to NYC to become a writer! - TIM FULLER
  • Tim Fuller
  • Sam Scarborough (Jack Neubeck) tries to convince his granddaughter Lily (Lucille Petty) to stay in town and help out at his florist Shop while Lily has dreams of moving to NYC to become a writer!

There’s a little gem of a play now treading the boards at the Invisible Theatre. Kathleen Clark’s Let’s Live a Little is the last show of the season, and it’s a lovely way to end Invisible Theatre’s 46th year.

The show tells several stories, related in some ways, although often quite generally. Their chief connection is their location in the small town of Mine Hill, New Jersey. Their lives often intersect in a glancing way, say, like most of ours do merely because we reside in the same country, or are all members of the human race. We may share dentists or find that we were born in the same city, or that we all struggle to survive, and for us who are lucky enough not to have to worry about where our next meal is coming from, to survive with a modicum of grace.

Lily is a college-aged woman trying to figure out how to extricate herself from the small town, but not leaving her granddad, who's struggling with issues of aging, without help in his florist shop. Granddad is married to grandma, who is also on the inexorable journey to decrepitude. Their daughter (and Lily’s mom) is trying to take care of them by lining up in-home caregivers. The candidates, although related only by their candidacy, are part of other stories Clark weaves into her play. She touches on themes like how we perceive ourselves and how we can free ourselves from those perceptions to blossom (like the flowers in granddad’s shop?) in ways more to our liking; how we can dig deep to commit to the things we want to do; how less is more; how we compromise ourselves but find that we can be reawakened in surprising ways; and just another little idea: how we need, quite literally, to write our lives.

Clark’s play is a mouthful. It’s probably too much of one. Although it’s plotted well—Clark knows what she’s doing as a playwright—she gives us so much that we are overwhelmed. She offers us multiple ideas to chew on, but not much time to chew them. It’s akin to one of those hot dog eating competitions. There's a lot to absorb in only 90 minutes. Consequently, sometimes things feel contrived or overly sentimental or way too obvious as she tries to stitch everything together. The seams show.

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Trouble in Republican City Over Voucher Expansion?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 4:00 PM

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I can’t remember agreeing with Greg Miller—a Republican who runs a charter school and is ex-president of the Arizona Board of Education—before. But an op ed he wrote for the Capitol Times, GOP support of voucher expansion bill an insult to most students, is an exception to the rule. It begins,
As an advocate for education reform for the past 35 years, a co-founder of a very successful charter school, a lifelong Republican, and the most recent past president of the Arizona State Board of Education, I have never been more embarrassed, outraged, disappointed, and angry to call myself a Republican. How on earth do the Republicans in the state Legislature who voted for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (voucher) bill, or our governor, who signed it, look in the mirror and in good faith, not understand what they have just done.
Miller continues,
Public education has been the equalizer for 150 years of economic growth and assimilation of immigrants into the culture that we enjoy today. This is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of students who do not have the resources to pay the additional thousands of dollars for the tuition these private schools will be charging above the state subsidy, and without the opportunity of a quality education provided in their local schools where due process and common goals of expectation drive the continued development of economic expansion for everyone, not just a privileged few.
He ends by saying voters need to kick out the ESA expansion supporters in 2018.
All Republicans that share this view [against voucher expansion] use your vote in next summer’s Republican primary to replace anyone who supported this transfer of economic wealth from our public school system to the private schools of the wealthy.
I’ll take exception with Miller here and say we need to kick out the anti-education Republicans and replace them with some pro-education, pro-child Democrats, but hey, we can agree to disagree on that one.

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Zona Politics Tonight: Councilman Steve Kozachik and Metro Chamber Prez Mike Varney

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 3:06 PM

Councilman Steve Kozachik
  • Councilman Steve Kozachik
Tonight on the televised edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: I talk with Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik about Prop 101, the city's proposal to hike the sales tax by a half-cent per dollar for five years in order to  fund capital improvements for the police and fire departments and do more road repair. We also talk about the UA's controversial proposal to build a massive Honor's College campus right smack in the historic West University Neighborhood, the city's lawsuit against the state over the state's efforts to take away more than $100 million in state-shared revenues because the city destroys some guns instead of selling them at auction and some other city issues.

Then we've got an exit interview with Tucson Metro Chamber President & CEO Mike Varney, who recently announced his plans to step down after six years on the job. We discuss whether the city of Tucson and Pima County are more business-friendly than they were when he arrived, what the state should do about education funding and why the chamber is supporting Prop 101.

Tune in tonight at 6:30 p.m. on the Creative Tucson Network, Channel 20 on Cox Cable and Channel 74 on Comcast. The show repeats at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings.

On this weekend's radio edition of Zona Politics, I talk with Democrat Paul Durham, who is seeking to replace the retiring Ward 3 Councilwoman Karin Uhlich. Durham is facing fellow Democrats Tom Tronsdal and Felicia Chew in the August primary election.

The radio show airs at 5 p.m. Sundays on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM, and at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. Sundays on KEVT, 1210 AM.

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Staff Pick

Sons of Orpheus, 26th Annual Gala Spring Concert

Founding Artistic Director, Prof. Grayson Hirst, UofA (retired) features contemplative, inspiring, whimsical and fun pieces from Beethoven… More

@ The Highlands at Dove Mountain Sun., April 30, 3-5 p.m. 4949 W. Heritage Club Blvd.

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Popular Content

  1. Once Again, It's Time to Deconstruct the U.S. News "Best High Schools" Rankings (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Documentary Hot Damn Makes its World Premiere in the Old Pueblo This Sunday! (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. Streets of This Town: The Nightwatchman (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. The Weekly List: 15 Things To Do in Tucson in the Next 10 Days (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. RIP, Author and Activist Kathryn Ferguson (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

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