Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cutting Teacher Compensation and School Funding in Wisconsin

Posted By on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 3:27 PM

Does cutting the power of teacher unions, cutting teacher salaries and reducing tenure and seniority rights— all ingredients in the conservative recipe for educational success—make for better education? Let's take a look at Wisconsin, one of the country's experiments in conservative governance.

In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that reduced the bargaining rights of K-12 teachers as well as other government employees. It also prohibited payroll deductions for union dues. Teachers and other state employees could still bargain over their pay, but they couldn't bargain over other benefits, hours or conditions of employment. The amount the state contributed to health care and retirement plans decreased.

That same year, Wisconsin's K-12 spending was cut by seven percent. The idea was, teachers would absorb the cuts with their lowered compensation, so the children would get the same education at a lower cost, while lack of seniority, tenure and other teacher protections would allow the state to get rid of underperforming teachers.

How has it all worked out? In 2016, teacher compensation was down 12.6 percent. The decrease is mostly in the form of lowered benefits, but a salary cut is a salary cut. If teachers have to spend more of their pay on health care and retirement, that means their take-home pay takes a significant hit. The number of teachers moving from district to district increased, with more experienced teachers moving from lower income to higher income districts which could pay more. Rural districts were especially hard hit by the teacher drain, which led to an increase in the number of low-experience teachers.

In terms of test scores, in high income districts which made up for the loss of state funds with local revenues, student scores either remained stable or increased. Scores in lower income districts decreased.

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Grease Trap Fever! County Collecting Grease in January

Posted By on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 2:00 PM

The "fatberg" of grease that clogged up the London sewer system earlier this year. Don't let Pima County become the next London—recycle that grease.
  • The "fatberg" of grease that clogged up the London sewer system earlier this year. Don't let Pima County become the next London—recycle that grease.
Do you have a heaping helping of grease laying around your house and have an unrelenting need to get rid of it?

Well, if so then you're in luck, as Pima County's Wastewater Reclamation Department is hosting its 13th annual Grease Collection and Recycling event at spots across the county on Jan. 6.

Interested grease donors can rid themselves of their translucent goo at any of the county's five stops—O'Rielly Chevrolet (6160 E. Broadway), City Council Ward 3 Office (1510 E. Grant Road), Pima Community College-Northwest Campus (7600 N. Shannon Road), Kino Sports Complex (2500 E. Ajo Way) and Sahuarita Town Hall Complex (375 W. Sahuarita Center Way).

Grease—including fats and oils—can plug up drains and cause sewer backups in homes, businesses and city streets. These collection events allow the great people of Pima County to disavow themselves of said unpleasantries, while alleviating any messy sanitation situations as well.

The grease collection event has collected more than 30,000 pounds of grease since it was introduced in 2005, with the mass then recycled into biodiesel, which is a cleaner burning fuel than regular diesel. 

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Monday, November 20, 2017

The 'Freedom Center's' High School Course Is On Shaky Ground at TUSD

Posted By on Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 4:07 PM

  • Courtesy of BigStock
The Star's Hank Stephenson has a good front page article in the Sunday paper about the controversial high school course created by UA's Koch-funded "Freedom Center." It presents an overview of the course and the districts using it, with all sides getting a chance to have their say. I'm pleased to see the Star getting the story out to a wider audience, most of whom have never heard of the Center or the two year old high school course.

Which makes me wonder. Why didn't the Freedom Center publicize the high school course when it was first taught in 2016? A call to the Star undoubtedly would have earned the Center some positive press about itself and the course it created. So far as I can tell, my column in a recent issue of the Weekly was the first mention of the course in the local press. The mentions I've seen elsewhere are a glowing account on the website of the Templeton Foundation, which gave the Center a $2.9 million grant to create and disseminate the course, and a negative review of the course textbook on another site. Even Tucson Unified's board members knew nothing about the course's existence. I first heard about it a month ago from Betts Putnam-Hidalgo, who is a diligent district watchdog and a friend who I disagree with adamantly on some issues and agree with on others. She and some other people have been looking into the course for awhile.

Why is the Freedom Center so publicity shy? My guess is, it prefers to fly under the radar whenever possible. The Center is all about furthering its libertarian agenda in Arizona's universities and high schools. More public recognition could make it harder to maneuver.

The high school course was the subject of a half hour informational discussion at Tucson Unified's November 14 board meeting. Two main questions were raised. First, why was the course authorized by the district administration without the knowledge of the board? Second, now that the board knows of the course's existence, should it officially authorize the course and allow it to continue being taught in the district, or is the curriculum questionable enough that the district should discontinue the course at the end of the school year? The board plans to make some final decisions at its December 5 meeting. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I want to bring up another issue: the troubling origins of the course.

In my years as a high school teacher and an observer of the national public school scene, I can't remember hearing of a course which was created out of whole cloth by some agency outside the schools. It certainly isn't standard procedure for a university department—or in this case, a university "center"—to receive a multimillion dollar grant for the purpose of developing a brand new high school course, complete with curriculum, a new textbook written in house, and training provided by the Center for the people who will teach the course. Nothing is left to chance here. Every aspect of the course is a product of UA's Freedom Center.

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Calling All Turkeys! Salvation Army in Desperate Need of Thanksgiving Staple

Posted By on Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 3:24 PM

All of these things are needed for the Salvation Army's annual turkey dinner. - BRENT HOFACKER | SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Brent Hofacker | Shutterstock
  • All of these things are needed for the Salvation Army's annual turkey dinner.
The Salvation Army of Southern Arizona has a dire problem as Thanksgiving approaches.

The nonprofit, which gives out free turkey dinners each year, has a serious bird shortage this year, for its 33rd annual dinner, with 40 turkeys as of today and an an expected crowd of 2,000 people on Thursday.

Last year, by comparison, the center had 300 turkeys, feeding 1,600 people in total.

They're hoping that the community will respond with gusto before Thursday's event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Salvation Army Hospitality House, 1002 N. Main Ave.

More than 250 volunteers have signed up to help prepare and cook the turkey feast, with more than 600 Thanksgiving meals delivered to homebound residents.

Donations are still being accepted at the Hospitality House, including turkeys, canned green beans, instant box potatoes, butter, already cooked assorted pies, yams, eggs, cranberry sauce, turkey stuffing, loafs of bread, brown gravy and cartons of milk.

Major Dawn Rocheleau, director of special services Tucson Metro, hopes the community will help those less fortunate so that everyone can have a special Thanksgiving experience.

"We want the community to know what types of resources we provide for those in need," Rocheleau said. "This could not be done without the support from the people in Tucson."

For more information, contact The Hospitality House at (520) 795-9671, or at the Salvation Army's website.

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Sweetie Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 8:52 AM


Hi there. I'm Sweetie!

I am a 5 month old female kitten searching for the purr-fect home! I have a lot of energy and love to play! I would do best as your only cat so that I can get all of your love and attention. In the past

I have done well with older kids and small dogs.

I am able to enjoy my time at HSSA while I wait for my forever family thanks to events like SWEAT for PETS. To learn more about this fun event and make a donation visit www.sweatforpetstucson.org. Come fall in love with me at HSSA Thrift Store at 5311 E. Speedway Blvd., or give an adoptions counselor a call at 520-327-6088 x155 for more information.

Lots of Purrs,
Sweetie (848282)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Steve Bannon Beats the Drum Against Undocumented Immigrants in Tucson Appearance

Posted By on Sun, Nov 19, 2017 at 10:41 AM

Steve Bannon receiving the Brian Terry Courage in Journalism and Reporting Award. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Steve Bannon receiving the Brian Terry Courage in Journalism and Reporting Award.

Ralph Terry was shocked when he heard there would be protests over Steve Bannon being the keynote speaker and award recipient at the Brian Terry Foundation annual award dinner.

The Foundation chose Steve Bannon as keynote speaker and recipient of the Brian Terry Courage in Journalism and Reporting Award because of Breitbart’s reporting on “Operation Fast and Furious,” a botched U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms gunrunning investigation into the movement of guns to Mexican drug cartels during which U.S. officials lost track of the guns.

Brian Terry was a Border Patrol agent who was shot in 2010 while looking for members of a suspected drug cartel. A semi-automatic rifle recovered at the scene was tracked back to a gun lost during the Fast and Furious investigation.

The Foundation is not a political group, said Ralph, the foundation’s president and Brian’s uncle. He hadn’t thought about Bannon being called a white nationalist, but that he was “a key player in President Trump’s election,” Ralph said during an interview with the Tucson Weekly.

“It’s unfortunate when any group has to start putting labels on people—‘white nationalist,’ ‘Black Lives Matter.’ We all matter,” he said.

The Foundation raises money for the families of Border Patrol agents killed on duty and toward scholarships for people pursuing careers in law enforcement or criminal justice. It has awarded 40 scholarships, and Ralph says he hears from people that it changed their lives.

The Terry family had a hard time finding closure after Brian’s murder because the government was not forthcoming with information, Ralph said.

“Mr. Bannon kept right on top of that for us and kept it in the public eye, and we appreciate that,” he said. “To smear the Foundation because they may or may not agree with that person’s politics is below the line that I want to go.”

At the Starr Pass Marriott resort last night, there were a few protesters holding signs calling Bannon a Nazi, but shuttles whisked guests of the foundation right past them with little disturbance.

It took the family 18 months to get information about what happened to Brian, said former Congressman Ron Barber, who spoke at the Foundation’s first luncheon and presented a Congressional Badge of Bravery to the family. Barber said the Foundation does great work, but the choice to give Bannon an award is another matter.

“I do not support that Steve Bannon should receive an award or be at the event,” he said. “I, personally, would think he doesn’t deserve an award of any kind.”

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Casa Video Top 10

Posted By on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 3:48 PM

The next week should be a busy one. Between trying to avoid the El Tour de Tucson route, hanging out with (or protesting against) Steve Bannon—and maybe his local, exclamation point-loving brother—and everything else this sunny city has to offer right now, I can't image anyone is going to have much time to hang out at home and watch movies with their cats.

... but just in case you do manage to squeeze in a few low key hours at home, here are the top 10 rentals at Casa Video right now:

The Dark Tower

Wonder Woman

War for the Planet of the Apes

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Laughing Stock: The People's Pervert Does Christmas

Posted By on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 10:16 AM

John Waters brings his new Christmas show to the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 2. - PHOTO BY GREG GORMAN
  • Photo by Greg Gorman
  • John Waters brings his new Christmas show to the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 2.

“I'm busier in my career than I have ever been in my entire life,” says Baltimore septuagenarian John Waters, the author, stand-up comedian, satirist, paradigm smasher, movie auteur and, not least, his hometown’s Statue of Liberty. He styles himself as “The People’s Pervert.”

Waters brings his annual, one-man Christmas show to the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 2. Tickets are $30 to $110 at rialtotheatre.com. The show’s parental advisory portends laughs guaranteed to up-end taste, decorum and firmly held beliefs of all kinds.

“I just want people to fear Christmas. It's extreme! It's coming and you can't escape it, no matter what religion you are or what your politics are or anything. You have to have an opinion about it. You have to spend money!”

Just in time, Make Trouble, Waters’ 2015 commencement speech to the Rhode Island School of Design has been released in limited edition, 7” red vinyl by Jack White’s label, Third Man. The speech earlier went viral online, then became an illustrated gift book published by Algonquin.

“I've lived my life to be a stocking stuffer!”

The joke is that he devotes his Christmas show to subverting the season’s excesses. He works up to the minute on timely content for each performance, writing with hilarious and pan-themic irreverence for the season’s tropes. Regarding dangerous toy lists, e.g.: “My friend used to give her daughter plastic bags to play with from the cleaner, and the child loved it. ‘You just watch them,’ she said. You have to watch your children.”

When he’s not touring, Waters’ days are filled with other creative pursuits and live appearances. He has made a dozen movies and published nearly as many books but, like the commencement speech, he says, “I love to get all my work re-invented all the time.” He notes that his 1970 film Multiple Maniacs came out again this year, restored by the Criterion Collection—another stocking-stuffer alert.

Waters’ career would have made history had it ended with his 1972 film, Pink Flamingos. That movie, his second, at once defined and subverted the exploitation genre. His Hairspray has been a megahit in every medium, from the Broadway stage to children’s books and multiple internet sites. While the HBO sequel hasn’t yet been financed, it’s written, and production may be inevitable.

“I'm still participating in that business,” Waters says. “Hollywood's been fair to me. My movies satirized all the things that used to be in movies. But I don't really satirize special effects.”

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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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Popular Content

  1. Cutting Teacher Compensation and School Funding in Wisconsin (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Grease Trap Fever! County Collecting Grease in January (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. The 'Freedom Center's' High School Course Is On Shaky Ground at TUSD (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. Casa Video Top 10 (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. Steve Bannon Beats the Drum Against Undocumented Immigrants in Tucson Appearance (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

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