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Why is it that David Garcia, the Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, has locked up major endorsements from Republicans, Democrats, the business community and educators, while his Republican opponent Diane Douglas has no big names in her corner?
We are now aware that the event in Ferguson, MO, was similar to the Trayvon Martin case in this respect: an unarmed black male was killed after attacking an armed person.
It took me awhile, rummaging through the photo files on my computer, to locate the pictures I took during an anti-Iraq War march in Portland, Oregon. How long ago was it? I eventually found them in a 2003 folder. It was over a decade ago.
It’s still summer vacation — the kids are out of school for a few more weeks — but we have some big news on the education front — billions of dollars big. A Maricopa County judge ruled that the legislature has to add about $300 million to its budget for Arizona’s K-12 schools right now and as much as $2.9 billion over the next five years.
In the June 11 edition of the Explorer, a reader complained that politics didn’t belong in a weekly shopper, but then proceeds to weigh in on Richard Brinkley’s so-called hoax on climate change. I agree with the writer about Mr. Brinkley’s article especially where he pulled out his facts from his (derriere), but I don’t agree with his premise that The Explorer is a weekly shopper.
People who shout loudest about how low our kids rank on international tests are the same folks who want to make the most radical changes to our schools. Under the umbrella term, “education reformers,” these critics suggest we cripple teachers unions, lower the credentialing standards for teachers, expand the reach and power of standardized testing and abolish teacher tenure.
If it were me, I’d be ashamed. If a judge told me I had cheated children out of money I owed them, that I had violated the law by giving them less money than I was legally bound to give, I would hang my head in shame, and I’d ask the judge, “How much do I owe?”
Gays, guns and God: the three G’s. They’re the trifecta of Republican campaign issues. Use one, use them all, mix in a little immigration, abortion or Obamacare, and Bingo. You’ve got a campaign.
The Explorer failed to note that an article in its 2/19/14 issue that criticized the school voucher system for students was written by Mr. Safier, who is/was a school teacher and is, therefore, biased about the relative success of public schools vs. charter schools. Charter schools have enabled tens of thousands of underprivileged children to acquire superior educations by avoiding failed public school systems.
How’s this for an idea? Pay parents to keep their kids home from school. And how about this? Encourage parents to skimp on their children’s educations by promising to pay part of the cost of college.
This is a bit presumptuous, I admit. I’m climbing on my columnist’s soapbox and proclaiming a set of New Year’s resolutions for myself and anyone else who chooses to adopt them. They’re a little late, I admit, but with one column a month, my choice was either to write them way back in December or wait until my first opportunity this year.
It’s that time of year again when you can bring a little holiday cheer to an underfunded Arizona public school -- and that includes every public school in the state. Funding for K-12 education is down 17 percent from where it was six years ago, so all our schools are hurting financially. You can give $200 to the school of your choice -- $400 from a couple - at absolutely no cost to you thanks to the Arizona School Tax Credit. There’s no need to have a child in school or live in a certain school district. If you pay Arizona income taxes, you qualify.
In a recent column, Mr. David Safier criticized the digital learning model employed by the Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA). Many of his assertions about our school are simply not true, which is not surprising coming from someone who actively opposes school options for students and educational choices for parents. The Internet and technology have enabled educators to provide new ways to reach populations of students who were otherwise isolated due to economic status or geography. The schools I lead -- Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) and Insight School of Arizona (ISAZ) -- are public schools dedicated to providing access and opportunities to more than 5,000 students combined. Contrary to Mr. Safier’s claim, neither school is in “academic probation.” They received satisfactory marks from the Arizona Department of Education and remain in good standing with the State Charter Board. Our teachers are hardworking, professional educators. They are state-certified and highly qualified. We want to see students enroll in schools that are right for them. Online schools are a great option for some, but not for all students. When parents contact us, we provide them information they need to make a fully informed choice. In our online schools, engagement is the key to success. Online schools require a significant amount of commitment and student participation, and we ensure families know this before they enroll. Students who engage – regardless of their academic history – can succeed in online schools. Some critics argue online schools should “filter out” certain students or restrict access based on academic history or socioeconomic status. We reject that view. As public schools, we cannot and will not discriminate. Our obligation as educators is to serve all students who come to us. No student is zoned-in or required to enroll in one of our schools. They are there by choice, and we respect parent choice. We are proud to serve a diverse group of students, from accelerated learners to special needs children to victims of bullying. Our staff, teachers and parents are committed to our mission to meet the individual needs of every child.
Last week the stock price for K12 Inc., a Virginia based, for-profit education corporation, plummeted almost 40 percent in a single day. Why, you may ask, should we care about the fortunes of some Virginia corporation? The reason is, K12 Inc. is the parent company of Arizona Virtual Academy and its 4,200 students scattered around the state, many of whom get very little in the way of education. Some get none at all. Understanding the causes of the stock plunge helps us understand what’s wrong with the Arizona school.
What if you woke up tomorrow morning with your IQ 13 points lower than it is today? Think what that would mean. You’d still be able to go through your normal, everyday tasks - the ones that don’t take a great deal of thought -- without much problem. In fact, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference until you had some mental stretching to do. If you’re a crossword or sudoku fan, for instance, your daily puzzle would be far more difficult. Those real life tasks and decisions requiring you to draw inferences, synthesize information or go through multiple steps to reach a conclusion would likely set your mind reeling.
I have to say, I expected this to happen. The only question was when.
I rarely find myself agreeing with anything my conservative counterpart here at The Explorer, Richard Brinkley, has to say. The two of us are usually miles apart on the issues – centuries apart sometimes. But every once in awhile, the stars and planets align in strange ways, creating odd alliances, and this is one of those moments. Brinkley and I agree that there’s something very wrong with the latest national educational directive, the Common Core Curriculum.
The country is having an important debate about how much of our personal information the government should collect. The privacy issue is making for strange political bedfellows, with people on the left and right staking out a wide range of positions. But regardless of political stripe, we all should be able to agree that no one should be gathering private and personal information about our children to put onto one gigantic national database, right?
After reading Dave Safier’s article critiquing Basis Schools, I decided to present another view on the issue. The insidious approach of tearing down anything that offers an alternative to traditional public school has got to be exposed if we ever hope to improve education. Instead of reform, we must all conform. If the results aren’t flawless, we use them as proof that nothing is worth trying to improve at all. At the 2010 orientation of BASIS Oro Valley’s opening, founder Olga Block said, “This is not a school for geniuses. If you are willing to work hard, you will be successful.” She was right. Many families aren’t prepared for the workload. When faced with the intensity of the work and amount of homework, they decided it wasn’t a fit for their family. Some kids spend hours a week in a sport; some are in theater or have devoted themselves to music. That is their choice. For my two children, school is their sport. They are bright, self-motivated, and hardworking, but not geniuses. They “practice” in the form of homework just about every day of the school year, missing some social events, sleeping in, shopping and the latest T.V. shows, but that is their choice. The notion that BASIS only takes and therefore only keeps the “smart kids” is not being fair to all the kids like mine who work very hard to be there. It also shows just how uninformed Mr. Safier is about Basis culture and criteria.
RE: Dave Safier’s May column.
Let’s say you decide to start a school for sixth through 12th graders that gives students a rigorous, world class education: demanding courses, lots of homework, sky-high expectations.
Even though Dave Safier writes “Say yes to expanding Medicaid”. On the surface this expansion of Medicaid looks like a no-brainer to many. 200,000+ Arizonans become eligible for coverage; 90 percent of the cost is covered by the feds; the remaining 10% paid through a hospital tax, which is supported by the hospitals who will supposedly see a greatly reduced demand for free services.
What if a business planned a move to Arizona that would pour more than a billion dollars into our economy every year while creating 21,000 jobs? Now imagine those jobs would be spread around the state, including areas hardest hit by the economic downturn. And there’s this added bonus: the money would be spent on pollution-free activities, which would actually increase the health and welfare of Arizonans.
“Clean coal” is a fantasy created by mining and power companies to convince us we can keep burning coal forever without harming ourselves, or the environment. The truth is, coal is dirty, harmful stuff. In the short term, we need to install scrubbers to catch coal’s noxious emissions before they make their way out of the smokestack. In the long term, we need to phase out coal-powered energy sources and replace them with cleaner alternatives.