Narrow Search

Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion

Re: “Editor's Note

First off, those contributions to Medicare and Social Security will be more than offset by their later withdrawals from those systems.
And that "unnecessary turnover" is due to American workers getting jobs at higher pay rates; mostly minority and lower American workers. Isn't that supposed to be a good thing?

6 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 09/14/2017 at 6:34 AM

Re: “In Congress' hands

There's also the RAISE Act to limit legal immigration and give American workers (primarily minorities and lower income Americans) a raise in pay. But every liberal opposes it.
Here's a deal: pass the RAISE Act then pass DACA.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by bslap on 09/14/2017 at 6:28 AM

Re: “DREAMers and Dollars

What level of immigration is too much? What level of population is too much? What level of wages for American workers is too low?
At what point would any one at the weekly support anything other than unlimited immigration?

7 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 09/14/2017 at 6:26 AM

Re: “DREAMers Deferred

Why is every article about this subject exactly the same?
Find some admirable example, get some quotes and build sympathy. Sprinkle the emotionally charged and factually inaccurate term "DREAMers" throughout. Completely ignore the other side of the story. Call it a day.
Journalism these days is terrible.

13 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 09/14/2017 at 6:22 AM

Re: “Preschool Enrollment: U.S. (and Arizona) vs. the World

Setting aside the fact that test scores are a terrible measure of our society's success in raising young human beings, early childhood education has no effect on test scores outside of neglectful households.
The last place 3 & 4 year-olds need to be is school, unless their parents are neglectful. But that seems to be our society's goal. Whether through forcing both parents to work because of our economic system, or through the endless goal of sending them to school or childcare at younger and younger ages, the drumbeat seems to be: get them away from their parents and into the system.

4 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by bslap on 09/14/2017 at 6:20 AM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

Great education cultures sometimes grow naturally without much oversight from gardeners in certain climates and in certain types of soil. In other climates and types of soil, in order to produce decent growth and a healthy plant, gardeners must apply supplementary water, stake the tree, and fight noxious pest infestations. The tragedy of TUSD is that for decades there has been no such team of gardeners in the legislature or in the Department of Ed. They alternately starve it, attack it, and neglect it, until it has become so weakened and infested with disease that those who have looked closely at its actual condition have trouble envisioning how it can be brought from where it is to a place where it could be called a responsible, high functioning public institution.

It'a true that hiring a new Superintendent cannot miraculously cure a diseased organism that has for decades been neglected and abused by those who should have been maintaining its health. But it's also true that hiring an underqualified megalomaniac as Superintendent of a massive, troubled public school district can precipitate in just a few short years an intensification of the organism's maladies that would normally have taken a decade or more.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by @jhupp: Let's extend that allegory. on 09/13/2017 at 3:43 PM

Re: “Preschool Enrollment: U.S. (and Arizona) vs. the World

David, you and your tribe love to come up with ideas on the theoretical level that sound great and sell them to the public with very little understanding of what the conditions on the ground are in the area where you are proposing change. "Early childhood education" is a term that covers a range of things, from Vivian Gussin Paley's McArthur-genius-grant-award-winning work with preschoolers at the University of Chicago Lab School, where tuition for 4 year olds is more than most pay for college tuition, to McDayCare strip mall operations where people with no relevant qualifications and inadequate infrastructure for preschool education deliver "services" that do less for children's cognitive development than watching Sesame Street at home would do for them. We know what the crowd you run with delivers under the name of "universal public K-12": one contemporary example in our largest local public school district would be classrooms for lower-SES neighborhoods that are staffed with outsourced, underpaid long term subs with no teaching credentials. Given the hard, unyielding real-world Arizona conditions and circumstances surrounding publicly funded "education" (which include severe education labor pool shortages, rock bottom wages for educators, and the seeming total absence of meaningful regulatory oversight that can keep some of our public institutions serving lower-SES populations from deteriorating into deep dysfunction), it seems highly likely that what you might be able to offer in Arizona under the rubric of "early childhood education" would be on the McDayCare end of the scale rather than the Lab School end of the scale. At least for lower-SES neighborhoods that couldn't afford to engage in well-informed, well-connected, and time consuming advocacy on behalf of their children's best interests.

Try this for a change: instead of your utopian, pie-in-the-sky "what ifs?" start with existing institutions and improve them. Find a way of delivering uniformly high quality education to K-12 students in TUSD and every other local public district, from the foothills to the south and west sides of Tucson. Then turn to the public with a solid track record of sound accomplishments and ask them to turn over their three and four year olds to your public institutions. As things stand, turning a three or four year old over to a deeply troubled public institution like TUSD and assuming that the district could be trusted to serve their best interests and make use of their time in a way that would provide the kind of actual cognitive benefit you advertise as a possibility in this blog piece would seem inadvisable and naive at best; downright negligent at worst.

8 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Invitation to join us in the real world on 09/13/2017 at 2:25 PM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

So very well said above!

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Wayne Olson on 09/13/2017 at 11:56 AM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

This is a good discussion thread but anyone who has been in low-income classes knows that AZMerit is measuring critical skills for success: how to read and how to perform mathematics.

And, as David note over and over in these columns, academic results are a huge function of household wealth and structure. If you run a simple regression line through just the data David posts here, some differences, as David notes, are still there but other differences disappear. For example, Sunnyside goes from being the lowest district to being one of the top four - barely. Vail, Flowing Wells and Tanque Verde are the other three of the top four and they are substantially above the regression line.

The most important school district in the state and one of the most expensive, TUSD is below average.

Look at Vail and Flowing Wells - a history of superstar superintendents who served for decades under school board members who also served for decades without conflict with each other.

Great education cultures grow like an oak tree from a seed - they aren't turned on by hiring a new superintendent.

4 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by on 09/13/2017 at 6:53 AM

Re: “It Looks Like Gabby Giffords Is Going To Endorse Ann Kirkpatrick Today in 2018 Race Against McSally

Party affiliation may become less important than agenda as Trump is proving when he courts moderate Democrats to assist in passing legislation. Look at how his numbers are coming up the last couple of weeks. Whoever it is better be able to work with him because RESIST is not the American way.

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Wayne Olson on 09/12/2017 at 4:36 PM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

Student Growth percentiles are a fair way to compare school districts. These largely wash demographics out of the comparison.

The two year growth measures will be even better.

3 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by on 09/12/2017 at 1:39 PM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

Is this AzMerit Testing all about nothing very much. Back in the old days, I attended a small country school in Southeastern Ohio. There were 27 in my graduating class. We had the same old maid English teacher for five years. Yeah, same ole, same ole. Baldy, our math teacher, was also the superintendent and bus driver for away BB games, had been a floor walker for a department store. One of classmates, who barely made it through Algebra I, was the first multimillionaire from our class. My best friend who had to take bone-head math and English when he entered college; became a Vice President for the Bank of America. I eventually got a PhD and taught at ASU for a while. Now that was back in the good ole days and I know the situation has changed. But is the emphasis being placed on AzMERIT tests justified? The goal as I see it, is a good quality-of-life for the individual, the student, now and then in the future. Will a 10% increase in the AzMERIT test scores produce a 10% increase in the quality-of-life of the individual? Bottom line: we don't have a clue.

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by DennyG on 09/12/2017 at 9:32 AM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

What would happen if the state decided that there was a need for an AzMERIT test for jumping, like whats the highest the student can touch. There of course needs to be a pass-fail height. What criteria do we use? Like if one is going for career in the NBA jumping is more important than for career as a checkout clerk. But in any case, some expert might arbitrarily set the pass fail height at 9.

As one would expect, there will be a lot of short students who wont get close to touching 9. It is possible, that through extensive training, to increase one's jumping height. So bring on the best coaches. Of course jumping training takes time, so it would necessary to cut back on other courses. Even with the training, a large percentage, if not all, of short kids would fail. Some schools have a greater number of short kids, so the failure rate would be higher for those schools. Very interesting, and the public needs to know. Along the way, some graduate student would conduct a study, and their finding would be that short kids had short parents; its in the DNA. Another variable is race, and the study would show that Asian-American kids failure rate was much higher than Finnish-American kids, and yes, the Finnish-American parents were taller. So what is this AZMerit testing intended to accomplish? Is it kind of like an IQ test? It shows that some human children are smarter than others, just like some are taller than others. And, that smart parents tend to have smart kids. Biology 101?

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by DennyG on 09/12/2017 at 9:06 AM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

I don't speak all the fancy education language but as a parent who grew up in the TUSD school District and whose 4 kids all went to FW schools in Elementary-2 graduated from there, the other 2 from other schools. I know there is just a huge difference in the philosophy of two.
Flowing Wells expects the best of their students and has high expectations of the students and teachers. They encourage parent participation in
The classroom/activities. They have had high quality leadership and are able to lead and get things accomplished. They do well with what they have. Are they perfect, no.
TUSD is top heavy with an administration who appear to only care about their own agenda and the big salaries they make. Lawyers have gotten rich on stupid lawsuits about who should go to what school. I know that the African Americans who went to Catalina High in the late 1970's did not want to be bused away from their neighborhood schools, it should have been a choice.
Too much worrying about politics and not enough on basics and fundamentals. TUSD needs to come off it's high horse and get back to letting teachers teach and kids learn.

12 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by DAZ on 09/12/2017 at 8:32 AM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

How can any reasonable adult, "educated" or not, not correlate poverty with academic results? We are a country that does not value or pay teachers as professionals while we have a growing group of working poor, moving frequently, struggling with hunger and instability. Try going to work hungry and tired which is what we are asking of many of our young students. Growing up in a midtown trailer park without reliable education closes off the world to these kids. NO comparison to an affluent situation.

18 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Kathleen Perkins on 09/12/2017 at 8:27 AM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

Recipe for failing to defend the best interests of the poor:

Note correlation between low income and test scores. Imply that low SES school districts, no matter how hard they work, cannot be expected to do better with poor students.

Mix in pop-psych skepticism about the kinds of standardized tests that are used to measure student progress. "They don't mean anything anyway, once you factor in cultural bias, etc."

Give a nod to the notion that governance and administration in low SES districts can always do better, of course. Then, always fail to report on any specific areas where governance and administrative decisions and funding allocations are failing to serve the most vulnerable students. Look the other way when Title 1 funds are used to reduce class sizes across the board, creating hard to fill positions in low-SES schools. Look the other way when too many classrooms in those schools are staffed with long term subs with no teaching credentials. Look the other way when management of the subs is outsourced to a for-profit company and the subs' wages and compensation are reduced to make room for that company's profit margin. Look the other way when Board candidates you have endorsed receive large campaign donations from a marketing executive at the company to which they voted to outsource sub labor. Look the other way when desegregation funds are used to pay expensive lawyers to file objections to the desegregation authority's decisions, while no stipends that can attract qualified teachers are attached to hard to fill positions in low SES schools. Look the other way when teacher training in behavior management that the desegregation plan requires is somehow not funded and not delivered. Look the other way when a magnet school does not hire the "family liaison" (social worker) the desegregation plan requires, but uses available funds for an attendance clerk instead.

The sad fact of the matter, David, is that part of the reason low-SES schools do not do better is that there aren't enough people in the media watching funding applications closely and holding administrators' feet to the fire when the kind of shoddy decisions listed above are made. In high-SES districts, parents watch the quality of these kinds of governance and administrative decisions like hawks, and no Board member or administrator who doesn't deliver student-supportive decisions will survive. In districts serving low-SES populations where some parents may not know what to ask for (and where higher concentrations of low-SES parents exist in some schools than in other schools) the media's extra vigilance and support is needed.

Subtract test score points in the scores of TUSD students for every single one of those decisions listed above which some combination of media ineffectiveness and public apathy failed to hold the district accountable for: subtract points for having an uncertified sub "teach" math for months to middle schoolers. Subtract points for paying someone to count student absences rather than paying someone to work with families to help them figure out how to support more regular attendance and homework completion.

Now: ask the media to play the role it properly should play and admit that the kind of "coverage" that chooses to look the other way is complicit in the harm that is done. (And let's not fail to note that those who work behind the scenes to manipulate coverage and BLOCK valid information from getting to the public are even more culpable than weak reporters or strategically selective bloggers.)

9 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Report facts & hold governance & admin accountable. on 09/12/2017 at 7:32 AM

Re: “Frankie Cosmos Had Audiences Swooning At HoCo Fest

Awesome article! Makes me wish I had been there, but makes me feel like I had. Excellent writing.

Posted by Indie Fan on 09/12/2017 at 6:35 AM

Re: “Media Watch

Greetings Jess and VETS,

What a bittersweet joy I had in discovering TOP. You started it a year after I retired in South Korea. Initially a draftee to three tours in Vietnam and ended up retiring as a 30 year Army Veteran. My wife and I have a small balloon twisting ministry to disabled homes and orphanages and hospitals and anywhere where people need cheering up. Hopefully, a fellow Vet - Dr. Mike Foley will resume his trips to distribute free hearing aids. Good Lord willing, we will join him. I know of Christian missionaries working throughout Vietnam in helping disadvantaged people and English training. Please allow us the privilege of any future partnerships with VETS and TOP Legacy. Grace and Peace, Chris and Eun Young (Sally) Vaia BRIDGER46@HOTMAIL.COM

Posted by Chris Vaia on 09/12/2017 at 1:09 AM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

Nathan K, here's the ADE page to link to its incredibly detailed breakdown of AzMERIT scores.

The book I got the IQ information from is "Intelligence and How to Get It" by Richard E. Nisbett. His first two chapters cover the topic. I'm far from an expert in this field, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of his conclusions, but this is a well written, thoughtful book with lots of references. Much has been written on the topic of IQ testing, including the way the original tests were written to conform to the idea that students at toney prep schools must be more intelligent than students elsewhere, so if lots of the prep school students get certain answers right, those must be good questions, and if they get them wrong, they must be bad questions. It's hard to get rid of cultural bias in questions on an IQ test or other standardized tests, which is among the many reasons they should have a secondary role in the assessment of student achievement.

7 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by David Safier on 09/11/2017 at 7:28 PM

Re: “To Understand Pima County Test Scores, Follow the [Parents'] Money

David, can you link the Dept. of Ed data? I'm looking at the AZ merit data now, but it's disaggregated for the various TUSD High Schools, so it's not useful to me.

Also, with regarding to IQ effects of parental education, which study are you talking about? 14 pts. in IQ is an enormous swing - you don't see swings that large when you start feeding kids who are clinically malnourished. I've seen some studies that purport to find improvements in the 3-5 pts range when looking at separated adopted siblings (e.g, the UVA/Lund study - just recently, but not a twin study, unfortunately), but never 14 pts.

3 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Nathan K on 09/11/2017 at 5:08 PM

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation