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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch

Re: “Catalina Foothills Districts Earns Bragging Rights With Its AzMERIT Scores (Or Maybe Not)

Nathan K, let me comment on your question about the link between income and test scores. First, the major problem is not the spending on schools. If you spend more on schools in high income areas and less on schools in low income areas, that compounds the basic problem, but it's not the prime mover.

One of the few things about education we know for sure, based on good international data, is that there's a very strong correlation between family income and standardized test scores. So the question is, why is that true. Here's a few probable reasons, in no special order.

Children from families with adequate income have enough to eat and don't worry about where the next meal comes from. They live in adequate housing where the children most likely can get a little privacy and be guaranteed uninterrupted sleep. They live in reasonably safe neighborhoods where a walk down the street isn't a cause for concern. They have good health and dental care. All those factors mean they are less likely to walk through the school doors with bodies and minds filled with physical problems and emotional worries. As any of us know, when we're burdened with personal concerns, or we have a toothache or a stomach ache, or our stomach in rumbling from hunger, we're going to have more trouble concentrating on things that seem less important than what's going on inside us, like what the teacher is talking about or what's written in some book about a subject that's not intrinsically interesting to us.

Another issue is, higher income parents generally have more education than lower income parents, they generally have jobs which require higher education and they value education more. The children grow up in an atmosphere that emphasizes the same kinds of values as schools when it comes to education. The house has books in it, and the children see their parents reading. They are more likely to be read to. When they go to school, parents expect them to pay attention, do their work and perform well -- and as important, since the parents have been successful in school, they know what to encourage. If a child demonstrates gifts in an academic area, those gifts are encouraged and nurtured. Someone in the home can help the children with schoolwork, or a tutor can be hired. And those children are likely to have a wider range of experiences outside the home which are valuable in terms of their classroom education.

When a child has parents, family and neighbors who have gone to college and are in professions demanding education, they assume that's where they're heading. If they don't attend college, that's the exception, and usually a disappointment to the family. If parents haven't had higher education or tried it for a short time and did poorly, the children don't picture themselves as college material, and if they see college in their future, they get less help and encouragement than if they were in higher income families.

The biggest exception to the correlation between poverty and poor educational attainment is people who are educated and come from cultures which encourage education but for some reason lack money. The most typical example is immigrants who were educated professionals in their countries of origin, then come to their new country with no financial resources. While they are low on the economic ladder, everything about their attitudes is more like people who have more money. They expect their children to attain good educations and become professionals, and their expectations tend to be met by their children. You see that in Asian immigrants to the U.S. who tend to come here with education and come from a culture which values education. From what I read recently, African immigrants to the U.S. are the most educated immigrants to this country in history. No matter where these groups of people fall in the economic spectrum, they're going to encourage their children to excel. One exception from Asia is people from the Hmong ethnic group who come from a culture with little formal education and whose children generally don't do well in our schools. It's a telling exception.

Poverty tends to be a vicious cycle which breeds more poverty, and the U.S. creates fertile breeding grounds by not dealing with some of the root causes of poverty. As someone said, trying to get schools to fix poverty without dealing with the problems in the outside world is like trying to clean the air on one side of a screen door. That doesn't mean we should give up on schools. Schools can do a great deal of good. But to burden them with the task of repairing our societal ills is to ask them to do the impossible.

7 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 10/02/2017 at 12:03 PM

Re: “Catalina Foothills Districts Earns Bragging Rights With Its AzMERIT Scores (Or Maybe Not)

If you don't like long comments, you can always skip them. Personally, I don't like reading profanity, so usually I won't bother reading or responding to comments that don't have much to offer besides four letter words. Everyone has their likes and dislikes, and fortunately no one is required to read comments not to their taste.

7 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by It's a free country, as they say, at least in some respects. on 10/02/2017 at 10:48 AM

Re: “Catalina Foothills Districts Earns Bragging Rights With Its AzMERIT Scores (Or Maybe Not)

The only way to infer the point of view of the commenter who appears now and then to drop profanities into Safier's comment streams seems to be to assume that he or she disagrees with the comments he or she insults. So here I suppose we can assume that he or she doesn't agree that how money is applied in homes and in schools makes a difference to the quality of support or educational services students receive. And / or perhaps he or she does not agree that Title 1 and desegregation funds should be applied to improve the quality of educational services delivered to the populations that should benefit from those funds (the poor and minorities).

It would be interesting to understand how those opinions could be supported. Perhaps one of these days this commenter will state an opinion or a policy preference and be so kind as to explain the rationale for it...?

7 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Why not explain why you disagree? on 10/02/2017 at 9:14 AM

Re: “Looking at Tucson Unified's AzMERIT Scores: Another Approach

The long winded fuck strikes again.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Still not the kind of commentary needed...or wanted on 10/02/2017 at 9:07 AM

Re: “Sinema's In: Democratic Congresswoman Joins Race for Sen. Jeff Flake's Seat

This is so typical of Schumer getting the worst Democrat in the House to run for the Senate. Sinema is not a Democrat, a progressive, or a leader. She has the lowest Progressive Punch score among House Democrats & is owned by Wall Street. She has voted against many efforts to rein in Wall Street excesses including supporting decimating the CFPB. The only Democratic policies she seems so support are those that support the LGBT community. Sinema more of a self-interested calculating careerist like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, than someone who wants to serve and improve her country or Arizona.

This does not bode well for the Arizona Senate race. There were three very electable Progressive Senate candidates: Alan Grayson in Florida, Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, and P. G. Sittenfeld in Ohio. Well, Schumer got his marching orders from Wall Street and recruited three awful primary candidates. Former Republican Patrick Murphy in Florida, Conservadem Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, and way past his prime Ted Strickland in Ohio. Needless to day all three results of Schumers meddling lost their races; which is why McConnell is still Majority Leader and and the reactionary garbage known as Gorsuch instead of Merrick Garland sits on the Supreme Court.

Surely the Arizona Democratic Party can do better?

9 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Wileybud on 10/01/2017 at 7:40 AM

Re: “Sports Scandal Rocks UA Basketball Program

just pay the players already, in terms of revenue to the U of A, the cachet of having a big time mens BB program in Tucson making season tickets more expensive than most broadway plays, they deserve it. The old school mantra of they get a free education, just doesn't make sense with billions in TV contracts in play.
Student athletes add value to the school and to the community, pay all scholarship players, whatever the market determines they are worth!

0 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by laddderflappy on 09/30/2017 at 10:04 PM

Re: “Business Leaders Say, Raise Taxes to Fund Schools

Arizona Rural Schools Association, representing 100 districts serving more than 100,000 students in every county have formally asked the leaders of Arizona's business community to take up the challenge. Steps have been taken to address the needs of our education system, but they don't fully address the needs and if something isn't done to address the end of the current 6/10ths sales tax the future of education in Arizona looks very grim.

Posted by SERickert on 09/30/2017 at 9:14 PM

Re: “Catalina Foothills Districts Earns Bragging Rights With Its AzMERIT Scores (Or Maybe Not)

I'll be interested to see what David replies -- if he replies. In the meantime perhaps another commenter can add a few thoughts on money and test scores.

High parental income does not cause high test scores. It enables the possibility of higher test scores, when the money is applied in the right way. (Example: when a wealthy family where both parents work 70-hour a week jobs employs a nanny who does not know how to provide the right kind of educational support in the home, their money will not cause their children to have the highest possible test scores those children are capable of having. If, however, they hire a retired teacher who provides the right kind of educational enrichment and support, their money may enable (but not CAUSE) higher test scores -- if, that is (to add another significant variable) their children are willing to apply effort in school. In a poor family, both parents may have to work full time to pay rent and utilities and there may not be enough extra left over to secure the optimal kind of child care for the hours when children are not in school.)

Similarly, public funds allocated to a school district can enable but do not cause higher test scores. They will enable higher scores only if the money is applied in the right way. It is easier in wealthier districts where the families have the means to provide maximal educational support in the home. But let's look at poorer districts, where students come to school with more needs unmet and where helping them learn is harder: if desegregation and / or Title 1 funds are applied to ensure that every classroom in neighborhoods with high concentrations of lower-SES and / or minority families has a qualified teacher in it rather than to build a swimming pool or to add vaguely described "support" positions that have no clear function in increasing the quality of education delivered to students (two examples from the long and baffling history of TUSD's management of its funding supplements), increased funds may have a chance of enabling better test scores.

To sum it up: what enables (not CAUSES) maximal student success is complex and involves many variables, which would include at a bare minimum: 1) sufficient funding at home and in the school system, 2) the right kind of support in the home either from parents or from supplementary care they hire and fully qualified faculty in the schools, 3) intent on the part of school governance and administration to apply funds they control for STUDENT benefit, and 4) some level of oversight both from an active, engaged, knowledgeable citizenry and from higher level authorities within the state's educational system. Then there are always the variables of student motivation and application of effort, without which no amount of resource allocation and responsible oversight can do any good.

Some of the variables needed for maximal student success are missing throughout Arizona and others are missing in some of the institutions in this region. One political party whines constantly about what is missing statewide while ignoring or cloaking the local problems and the other denies the reality of statewide problems while failing to use the means at its disposal (state level institutions and governance) to identify and treat the regional problems.

8 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by It's complicated, and both party ideologies get it wrong. on 09/29/2017 at 2:26 PM

Re: “Catalina Foothills Districts Earns Bragging Rights With Its AzMERIT Scores (Or Maybe Not)

David, how, in your view, does high parental income cause higher student test scores? The typical answer I get from defenders of the public education industry is that schools in wealthier districts are better funded. But if that's the explanation, the relevant metric ought to be per pupil instructional spending, right? But the state auditor report that you cited in your March, 2016 article on this subject (…) shows that in 2015, TUSD spent $4005 per student on instruction, whereas Cat Foothills spent LESS: $3792 per pupil.

So, what's the causation, in your view?

9 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by Nathan K on 09/29/2017 at 10:49 AM

Re: “Catalina Foothills Districts Earns Bragging Rights With Its AzMERIT Scores (Or Maybe Not)

"Just like in real estate, Cat Foothills' success is all about location, location, location."

Catalina Foothills High must be built on magic dirt. Maybe we could load up a truck or two of it and send it down to Tucson High. That should help.

2 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by Nathan K on 09/28/2017 at 8:13 PM

Re: “Catalina Foothills Districts Earns Bragging Rights With Its AzMERIT Scores (Or Maybe Not)

Where's the punchline, David? You know what it is, right? SES / home values and parent education levels in the neighborhoods surrounding those two schools and SES and parent education levels of many if not all of those who open enroll. If TUSD schools were integrated by SES and parent education levels, would these two schools be the stand-outs they are?

So what are you trying to highlight, TUSD's chronic failures to integrate? Its decades-long persistence in maintaining enclave schools where people who live in the right neighborhoods can get services superior to what is available even in the wealthy Catalina Foothills school district, while people who live on the South and West sides of TUSD distinctly do NOT get those test scores -- or the kind of staff and investment available in those schools -- out of TUSD? How about making one of your fabulous graphs showing teacher vacancy rates at Fruchthendler and Sam Hughes vs. south and west side TUSD schools or average years of experience of teaching staff in Fruchthendler and Sam Hughes VS. south and west side schools? Or graphs showing differences in supplementary private investment and tax credit investment in those schools vs. other schools in TUSD?

I really don't understand the point you're trying to make here. Is it that even failing TUSD can do well teaching rich kids whose parents voluntarily invest in their schools, or is it that there are some significant failures of justice in resource allocation in TUSD? Or both?

Do tell.

14 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by What's the moral of the story here? on 09/28/2017 at 1:26 PM

Re: “Cinema Clips: First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

It is Amazing!! tear-jerker, slice of life, extraordinary story. 10/10 i would give this movie!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by ACER on 09/28/2017 at 12:41 PM

Re: “Sports Scandal Rocks UA Basketball Program

Shocked I say.....

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jim on 09/28/2017 at 12:14 PM

Re: “Sports Scandal Rocks UA Basketball Program

The Athletic Program at the University of Arizona, as with other Universities in this Country, creates the environment for Corruption that we are currently witnessing. This is Big Business!!... providing millions of dollars for the University and, as well, are Feeder Programs for Professional Sports. The Athletic Programs, as such, must be dismantled and restructured.

The University, Board of Reagents and University Administration, kowtows to Alumni that support the Athletic Programs as they current exist. Why?...the $$$$$ that the "donate"....and...their Identity as a Person is inextricable linked to these Athletic Program providing an opportunity to participate in Home Game "tailgating"...a euphemism for a University sponsored Bacchanalia!

It remain to be seen, if the new UofA President, Dr. Bobby Robins, has the Interest, Courage, and Clout to dismantled and restructured the Athletic Program. The University is First and Foremost an Academic Institution...NOT a Feeder Institution for Professional Sports!!!

5 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Francis Saitta on 09/28/2017 at 11:40 AM

Re: “Sports Scandal Rocks UA Basketball Program

Despite rampant misspellings in the media, Book Richardson's name is Emanuel--one m, one n.

If you read the dates and circumstances given in the actual complaint, it's almost certain that he passed $15k to Jahvon Quinerly (not Grimes, and not his mom). In fact, the complaint explains that his mom demanded more money from Book, apparently unaware that her son had already cashed in, or yes, maybe upset that he didn't get more.

Yeah, yeah, Lute is a Hall of Fame coach, all the respect in the world. But under his leadership, Jason Terry was busted taking money from an agent 20 years ago, and later Arizona was busted for what were admittedly relatively minor infractions, but there were penalties assessed and they did have to vacate victories and an NCAA tournament appearance, which punched a hole in Lute's consecutive NCAA tournament appearance streak.

The point is that college basketball has been corrupted by the enormous sums of money swirling around it for decades. It's a multi-billion-dollar industry in which the principal employees get paid nothing, ostensibly--a recipe for corruption if I've ever heard one.

This will turn out much like the steroid scandal in baseball. The open secret will become a painfully clear fact--cheating and corruption are business as usual, especially for the high end schools.

In order for this problem to really be addressed, the mighty must fall. Louisville is obviously down already, but Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, and yes, even the saintly and untouchable Puke University, must be exposed and punished. The truth must be revealed in order to find a way out of this mess. MLB did not address steroids until some of the best players of all time had been exposed and punished.

Very sad that Arizona appeared at the tip of this iceberg and a great guy like Book took the first blow. No doubt he did it to compete in a culture of corruption and impunity that was created by the big programs mentioned above (and many others) and tolerated by the NCAA, which had no interest in staining its own brand by prosecuting its own legends. In such a climate, it's not surprising that even good people like Book got sucked into the sewer in their efforts to compete at the highest level and win championships.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by skinnyman on 09/28/2017 at 11:14 AM

Re: “Sports Scandal Rocks UA Basketball Program

so dd, you're the victim here? U of A basketball has and will continue to be great,
and....broaden your view, if embarrassment is the thing you choose to feel as an alum, meh!

3 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by laddderflappy on 09/28/2017 at 11:01 AM

Re: “Can High School Athletes Take a Knee?

Wayne, we may thrive despite Trump's complete narcissism and inepititude. If he doesn't destroy the country first, or give the entire thing away to corporate financial greed.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Frances Perkins on 09/28/2017 at 9:13 AM

Re: “Sports Scandal Rocks UA Basketball Program

The U of A basketball team used to be great under Lute. Now we alum just get to be embarrassed.

8 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by DeDe Johnson on 09/28/2017 at 9:07 AM

Re: “Grijalva Arrested Protesting Trump's Immigration Policies

Grijalva is a Pied Piper who, along with other Left Wingers, is responsible for thousands of deaths of those who died illegally coming here, thousands of children who were sold into sexual slavery, hundreds of thousands who were raped, and ten million or more who now fear deportation.

Guess What?

For two decades, Grijalva's support for Pro-Raza Open Border policy, or "aiding and abetting, enticing and inviting or otherwise encouraging the illegal entry of Mexico's poor for economic and political exploitation" has created misery that is un-measurable in its dimensions, billions of dollars of extra profit for fat-cat republican employers looking to drive down the value of labor, and 95% of the case load (EMPLOYMENT) for the judges employed in Arizona's District Courts, for which they are GRATEFUL.

Read the Walrus and the Carpenter. Of course the Mexican poor are the young oysters who leave their oyster beds only to be eaten.

How else did Grijalva get so fat?

1 like, 5 dislikes
Posted by KitWarden on 09/28/2017 at 8:56 AM

Re: “Sports Scandal Rocks UA Basketball Program

Good points Mike. I know I was a bit snarky earlier, it was just the language of the response that got me, That good old "We became award...." just felt a little too phony to me. A main item no one has gotten much into is Sean Miller. How long is he here for? Hard to believe a micro-manager like him could not have known. Not impossible, but.......So yeah, the whole program is in the deep end.
BTW, hearing Jim Calhoun express total shock about this and acting so sanctimonious was something to hear. When I lived in CT, his program was known as the "Dirty Calhoun".

11 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Kenneth Groves on 09/28/2017 at 4:53 AM

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