I have a suggestion for Representative Mark Finchem, (R-Oro Valley). How’s about one of his New Year’s Resolutions be that he sponsors a bill this session that actually improves the lives of his constituents?
Instead, the latest bill he is sponsoring, according to the AZ Capitol Times, is HB2022 (empowerment scholarships; financial oversight; treasurer) intended to broaden the state treasurer’s authority over the financial management of school vouchers. The bill “would add language to existing law that says the treasurer may contract with private financial management firms to manage the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs).” Evidently, Finchem believes the answer to ensuring more oversight over fraudulent ESA spending is to “grant the treasurer exclusive authority to issue requests for proposals from potential vendors, select payment processors and execute vendor contracts.”
But Chuck Essigs, lobbyist for the AZ Association of School Business Officials, questions the need for the bill since the Treasurer’s office only pays the vendor bills. It is up to Arizona’s Department of Education to ensure families have used their state-issued ESA debit card for only appropriate expenditures.
Yes, there have been problems, and tighter controls are needed. According to an October 2018 AZ Auditor General Report, Continue reading
It should come as no surprise to anyone that teachers around the country are jumping ship at an alarming rate. According to the Wall Street Journal, public educators “quit at an average rate of 83 per 10,000 per month in the first 10 months of 2018” – the highest rate for public educators since 2001.
One obvious reason for teachers leaving the classroom is the low salaries many still earn. In an analysis of census data, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that in at least 12 states, public education budgets are down some 7% from 2009 levels, adjusted for inflation. U.S. teacher pay (adjusted for inflation) says the National Education Association, is now 5% lower than it was in 2009. And, a 2017 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development“ found that teachers in the U.S. earn far less than people with similar education levels who are working other jobs. American teachers make, on average, between 55 and 59 percent of the salaries of other professionals with comparable schooling levels.”
Even so, pay is not the only reason teachers are fleeing classrooms. They also cite inadequate public respect and increased accountability without appropriate support. In Arizona specifically, contributing factors include 25% of our certified teachers being retirement eligible, a grading system for schools that still relies heavily on standardized tests, a GOP-led Legislature that is very pro-school choice if not openly hostile to public district education and their teachers, and the lack of respect for the teaching profession demonstrated by the dumbing down of teacher qualification requirements. Continue reading
If you’re a regular reader of Blog for Arizona, you’re probably familiar with the “freedom centers.” These are the schools within a school that have been established at ASU and UA by Koch Brothers money and sustained by their own special line items in the legislature’s higher education appropriations with the intent of injecting the Kochs’ culturally conservative, radically libertarian ideology into our public universities. As documented in Nancy MacLean’s essential book Democracy in Chains, they are part of a multi-decade assault on higher education by the Kochs and other wealthy conservatives to warp universities in their own image.
But as the spring semester is set to get underway, ASU’s freedom center is wading into a conversation that does matter, that of the #MeToo movement, and it’s brought in a right-wing political loser to address it.
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Political Calendar for the Week of December 30, 2018:
Sunday, December 30, 5:30 p.m.: Maricopa County Democratic Party Executive Committee Meeting at HQ, 2914 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix. Meet and greet (and dinner) begins at 5:30. Meeting begins promptly at 6:00 p.m.
Monday, December 31, Noon: Democrats of Greater Tucson luncheon, Dragon’s View Restaurant (400 N. Bonita, South of St. Mary’s Road between the Freeway and Grande Avenue, turn South at Furr’s Cafeteria). New price: buffet lunch is $10.00 cash, $12 credit; just a drink is $3.50. NOTE: DGT will be taking the holidays off and will return on January 14, 2019.
Tuesday, January 1: Happy New Year’s!