Category Archives: Charter Schools

A Sea of Red at the Arizona State Capitol Wanting Better Schools for Children

Red for Ed RallyToday was a great day for business at the Thursday State Capital Farmers Market as new customers in the form of education stakeholders involved with the functioning of our public schools came to the Capitol grounds, rallying for a better education and school climate for children.

With news helicopters hovering over the capital and public safety and state troopers making sure traffic safely proceeded, the education stakeholders (students, parents, support staff, educators, community members, aspiring and current office holders including Senate Pages) started arriving before 10:00 a.m.

They came from schools all over the valley. They were from elementary, middle, and high schools. Universities were there to show support. They traveled in cars. They filled and came in light rail trains. They mostly wore red shirts that featured slogans like “Save our Schools,” “Strong Schools, Strong State,” “Red for Ed,” and “Educators Strike Back.”
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Educators and their supporters line up on Baseline Road from Apache Junction to Laveen

In a show of solidarity before the teacher walkout starts today, the community of Maricopa County lined up with educators along Baseline Road from Apache Junction to Laveen from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to show the Governor and the Republican-led State Legislature that the fight to achieve fair compensation for their children’s instructors and support staff,  restore full  funding for their child’s schools, and modernizing their children’s schools has the support of the majority of the people.

Groups of parents, students, and educators from schools across the valley lined up on Baseline Road, mostly wearing red shirts. Some carried signs calling for fully funding our schools which are still funded at below 2008 levels. Walking along the road on McClintock and Baseline and the 101 and Baseline, you can hear the stream of cars honking support to the people lining up on the sidewalks.

Talking with a couple of instructors from a Mesa Elementary School, they relayed that they are willing to keep the walkout going as long as leadership in the Arizona Education Association (A.E.A) and Arizona Educators United (A.E.U.).When asked if they saw this walkout lasting as long as the ones in West Virginia and Oklahoma, they did not know. They said they will continue the fight on Thursday by gathering with fellow educators and supporters at CHASE field at 10:00 a.m. today and then march for a rally to the state capital at 12:00 p.m.

It is important for all sides to meet together and solve this situation for the children of this state who deserve a Twenty-First Education in safe school buildings that are overseen by respected and properly compensated instructors and support staff. Remarks by lawmakers calling for lawsuits against the teachers or accusing the Red for Ed leaders socialists trying to lead a revolution are not helpful. There are ideas on the table that can be negotiated. Instead of trying to make our teachers look like radical insurgents, our Governor should be reaching out to bring all representatives to the table so this can be resolved just in time for students to start class again on Monday.

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2018/04/24/arizona-lawmaker-suggests-lawsuit-over-teacher-walkout-lashes-out-constituent/547694002/

http://tucson.com/news/local/gop-lawmakers-huddle-on-teacher-pay-but-aren-t-talking/article_640b3410-fa4e-5f93-b5e6-734b2d804545.html?id=201408&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share

https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2018/04/25/arizona-redfored-movement-socialist-plot-oh-come/550750002/

 

 

Democratic Candidates for Governor call for Full School Funding, Gun Safety and Solar Power

Kelly Fryer, David Garcia and Steve Farley are Democrats running for Governor in Arizona.

Kelly Fryer, David Garcia, and Steve Farley are Democrats running for Governor in Arizona.

Arizonans will have a governor who supports full public school funding, gun safety laws and electricity made from solar power if a Democrat is elected in November. Candidates Steve Farley, David Garcia and newcomer Kelly Fryer spoke at a candidate forum at the University of Arizona in Tucson on April 7.

The audience of 300 was energized by the “blue wave” sweeping the nation, electing Democrats in Alabama, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and perhaps Arizona. The public event was sponsored by the Young Democrats of Arizona and of the University of Arizona. (Compare a private GOP candidate forum that attracted only 40 people).

Each candidate pledged to support whoever wins the Democratic primary on August 28.

Ranking the candidates

Things could change but I rank state Senator Farley as the front-runner. He is the only one of the three to actually be elected — he’s been in the Legislature 12 years an has been elected 6 times — giving him a statewide network. Farley has been endorsed by more than 50 current and former elected officials.

More than 300 people attended the Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Debate.

More than 300 people attended the Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Debate.

Farley’s reports from the legislature are read by thousands every week. He leads in fundraising, which is essential to staffing an election campaign. The 2018 1st quarter report for campaign finance donations will be released between now and April 16.

I’ve been running against Doug Ducey since he first was elected,” Farley said. “I know exactly what needs to be fixed, how to fix it and being governing on day one.”


See the video of the candidates debate at https://www.facebook.com/dailywildcat/videos/10155402727248302/


I rank David Garcia, an ASU professor and former associate superintendent of education, in second place. Garcia has never been elected to public office.

He is pinning his campaign on bringing Latinos and young people out to vote. However, these demographics did not turn out for him in his unsuccessful 2014 bid for Superintendent of Public Instruction, where he lost by 16,034 votes to Diane Douglas, who did not campaign publicly. Skeptics don’t see a significant increase in Latino voter participation.

That said, he’s picked up endorsements from the Arizona Education Association, Planned Parenthood Arizona, Democracy for America, UFCW Local 99 and LUCHA (Living United for Change in Arizona).

“What is Arizona is most known for — immigration, the wall, Joe Arpaio, [ex-state senator] Russell Pierce. The common denominator is that our Latino community is under attack,” he said. “When we win it will be a national story. Because Arizona is known for anti-immigrant hate, we are going to elect a guy named Garcia to be Governor.”

Kelly Fryer

Kelly Fryer

Kelly Fryer of Bisbee is openly gay, a former teacher and pastor, and CEO of the nonprofit YWCA Southern Arizona. She has never been elected to public office and I rank her as a dark-horse in third place. Fryer decided to run after speaking at the Tucson Women’s March in January.
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Professors Lay Bare Koch Scheme to Corrupt Arizona Universities

150 people attended "Dark Money, Charles Koch, and the UA Freedom Center" at the University of Arizona.

150 people attended “Dark Money, Charles Koch, and the UA Freedom Center” at the University of Arizona.

Professors and activists laid bare the Koch Brothers’ plot to corrupt Arizona’s universities to advance their anti-worker, anti-consumer and anti-public school agenda. 150 people attended “Dark Money, Charles Koch, and the UA Freedom Center” at the Tucson UA campus.

The speakers called on University President Robert C. Robbins to put the so-called “Freedom Center” under rigorous scrutiny, and they urged citizens to call and write Koch-funded Gov. Ducey to end the unique $2.5 million budget line-items especially for the Freedom Center.

Freedom Center DonorsThey are members of Kochs Off Campus! — a nonpartisan group of Tucson residents, UA faculty and students concerned about the undue influence of right-wing money on public education.

Donors to the Freedom Center are a whos-who of right-wing advocates, including the Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, Randy and Ken Kendrick, the Thomas W. Smith Foundation and even local car dealer Jim Click, according to Douglas Weiner, Professor of History.

“There has been a lack of transparency in the operation of the Freedom Center,” Weiner said, pointing out secret donor agreements, undisclosed donors and surreptitious planting of Koch textbooks in Tucson high schools.

“One of the biggest issues of the academic neutrality of the Freedom Center is that Director David Schmidtz has a long association with libertarian politics,” Weiner said.

See Koch Brothers Deeply Infect the U of A and Tucson Schools.

Koch Structure for “Social Change”

The Koch brothers political agenda is to promote private schools, defund public education, eliminate consumer and environmental protections, minimize employee rights, and abolish taxes on their businesses.

Samantha Parsons, Campaign Organizer of UnKoch My Campus, said 419 campuses have taken funding from the Kochs. “It is highly inappropriate for a donor to have this control over a university. They are holding the universities hostage,” she said.
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#RedForEd protest a successful first step

Arizona teachers wore red to school Wednesday in protest of what many described as the state’s lethargic response to a teacher crisis that’s driven thousands of qualified educators out of the classroom. Arizona teachers wear red, talk strike amid frustration over low wages:

A group of Arizona teachers spontaneously organized the #RedForEd grassroots effort — which has spurred talks on social media of a possible strike — over the weekend.

Thousands of the state’s classroom teachers participated. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 20,000 people had joined Arizona Educators United, a closed Facebook page teachers created Sunday for the demonstration.

On social media, teachers, parents, supporters, school board members and administrators wrote notes of encouragement and shared pictures of themselves draped in red and touting the hashtags #RedForEd and #AZWhatIsThePlan.

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ACLU Report: Arizona Charter Schools Illegally Discriminate

Arizona charter schools are illegally choosing students who fit their mold by applying exclusionary policies, failing to fulfill their “school choice” promise that all students have an equal opportunity to enroll, according to a new report by the ACLU of Arizona.

The report, Schools Choosing Students, exposes Arizona’s 543 charter schools and their discriminatory—and sometimes unlawful—policies, which create barriers to enrollment for low-income students, English learners, students with disabilities, and other vulnerable student populations.

Schools Choosing Students found that at least 262 charter schools, or 56 percent, have policies that are clear violations of the law or may discourage the enrollment of some students. Some of the troubling findings include:

  • At least 19 charter schools have policies or language in their enrollment documents that may prevent or discourage the enrollment of students who have struggled academically in the past. Arizona law prohibits schools from choosing students with high test scores or grades over other students.
  • At least six charter schools place an enrollment cap on the number of students with special education needs, violating federal law and an Arizona statute that states charter schools shall not limit admission based on a student’s disability.
  • Under the Arizona Constitution, students have a right to a free public education; however, at least 35 charter schools charge fees for a range of items without giving parents a waiver option.

The report gives specific examples of discrimination against students with disabilities, special education needs, a need for academic assistance, and kids who “don’t fit the mold” (which is code for “not good enough for the school.”)

Arizona charter schools operate independently, but they are part of Arizona’s public education system and use taxpayer funds. They must be open to all students. Education leaders must act to remove discriminatory barriers to enrollment so that all students have equal opportunity to enroll at a charter school if that’s what the student’s family wants.

“School choice” means families choose schools, not the other way around.

Read Schools Choosing Students in its entirety, available in English and Spanish, on the ACLU of Arizona website.