Rep. Ethan Orr talks health care, education - News - Explorer

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Rep. Ethan Orr talks health care, education

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District 9 State Rep. Ethan Orr, R – Ariz., isn’t very popular with his own party when it comes to his stance on Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion – and he’s okay with that.

Orr says, despite conservative opposition to the state’s health care expansion, he sees no other option than to accept the offer on the table from Brewer.

“The biggest argument is the people opposing it are making largely federal arguments against it,” he said. “Those arguments resonate with me on a federal level. I mean, we’re borrowing 47 cents on every dollar. We’re in what’s called a debt spiral. We’re borrowing to cover operating costs, and we have to stop that. However, if someone could tell me by turning this money down that a single person’s taxes would go down, or we would borrow one cent less on a federal level, then you have a discussion.”

Consequently, Orr is calling for Arizonans to take advantage.

“The solution to our nation’s deficit is not a one-state solution,” he said. “It’s actually is a 50-state solution. If we leave this money on the table, other states will take it in one way or another. I have to look at my state.” 

Brewer has claimed that by passing the legislation, health care would be expanded to cover 300,000 residents statewide, providing $1.7 billion in federal funding.

State Rep. Adam Kwasman, R – Ariz. has not been shy in disagreeing with Brewer.

“Passing this will force Arizona to face its own fiscal cliff,” he argued. “The best way to provide benefits 

is to provide economic growth. Allow businesses to grow and be able to pay for these benefits.”

No date has been set for voting on that particular legislation.

When it comes to Common Core Standards – the new foundation of academic standards to be fully implemented locally in the 2013-2014 school year – Orr is fearful the cart has come before the horse. 

The Common Core Standards, which are designed more stringently to place students from all 50 states on the same learning path, recently replaced measurement standards known as AIMS.

While Orr says he supports the higher-level expectations that come with Common Core, he is concerned that the state does not have the proper funding to support technological needs or the new testing format, known as PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career).

Orr says he is not alone in his stance.

“I’ve met with a number of teachers and school district officials, and there are very legitimate concerns over the implementation of funding and Common Core,” he said. “I don’t think teachers feel like they have enough support. I’ve heard behind the scenes that if we were to put the PARCC assessment in place now, about 20 percent of the kids would pass.”

Orr said that number is particularly scary given that Common Core is based stacking skill sets year-to-year.

“If my third grade math skills go directly into my fourth grade math skills, if you socially promote me, you exacerbate that trajectory,” he said. “Now I’m so far behind, I can never catch up.”

Consequently, Orr is calling for increased funding and understanding of implementation for Common Core, something he says has been unanswered by high-up education personnel in the state.

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