Category Archives: Education

A New Years Resolution to turn the East Valley of Maricopa County Blue

2018 Congressional District Five Democratic Party Nominee Joan Greene

Joan Greene, Lynsey Robinson, and other leading Maricopa County and state Democrats want to build on the successes of 2018 and spearhead efforts to turn the East Valley increasingly blue, making it totally Democratic by 2024.

Their goals include:

  • Having clean air to breathe and safe water to drink.
  • Having safe, accountable and technologically modern public traditional and charter schools with qualified instructors dedicated to student academic success, career development, and social development.
  • Providing quality affordable and accessible healthcare for everyone as well as retirement security.
  • Ensuring that people can live on living wages and if necessary “transition to other jobs when technology replaces them.” Instigating a modernized infrastructure and a “Green Deal” for our environment that champions “safety” and clean energy.
  • Electing public servants that support the community, play by the rules, are inclusive, and support solutions that benefit everyone rather than dark money supporters.

What portion of the voting public would not be for that agenda?

Maricopa County Democratic Party Second Vice Chair Lynsey Robinson

Former (and future) Arizona Congressional District Five Candidate Joan Greene and former LD12 State House (and newly elected Maricopa County Democratic Party Second Vice Chair and possible 2020 candidate for the LD 12 State Senate Seat) Lynsey Robinson are confident that the majority of the residents of the East Valley portion of Maricopa County. This area includes most of Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Queen Creek, Higley, and San Tan Valley, which are receptive to these community solution ideas and are poised to turn this part of Arizona bluer. Continue reading

Wondering What Happened to Steve Smith?

Grrrrreeeeaaaatt! The Capitol Times just reported that former state Senator and GOP candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in CD1, Steve Smith, is joining the American Federation for Children as the new state director.

Many LD11 residents (especially those in his home town of Maricopa), were thrilled to get rid of him as our one of our lawmakers. Now though, I imagine public education advocates will likely emit a communal groan to this news. Smith was no friend of public education as a state Senator, and in fact, was a co-sponsor of the full-expansion of vouchers (Empowerment Scholarship Accounts) law.

In 2017, he voted for Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) supported bills only 2 of 7 times. In 2016, he did better, but voted for three ESA expansion bills. In 2015, he voted for ASBA supported bills only 2 of 9 times, with two of those bills being ESA expansions. Back in 2014, he voted against ASBA positions all 7 times, and one of those was an ESA expansion. Continue reading

A Spirit of Bipartisanship, Inclusiveness, and Community at Arizona’s Inauguration Ceremonies

Kathy Hoffman being sworn in as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. Photo courtesy of Thomas Tingle of the Arizona Republic.

The spirit of bipartisanship, inclusiveness, and community filled the atmosphere and themes in the comments conveyed by the speakers at today’s inauguration ceremonies for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, State Superintendent of Public instruction Kathy Hoffman, and Mining Inspector Joe Hart.

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Should seniors skate?

The Legislative session doesn’t start for another week and a half and I’m already tired of the bad ideas being proposed. I previously wrote about HB2002 Rep. Mark Finchem’s (R-Oro Valley) proposal, which would “allow the state to fire teachers who discuss politics, religion, or racial issues in classroom settings.” Yesterday, Newsweek picked up on Phoenix New Times reporting that nine of the points in his bill were “lifted directly from the Stop K–12 Indoctrination campaign, which the David Horowitz Freedom Center sponsors. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes David Horowitz as ‘a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-black movements.’” Not to be outdone, Rep. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) submitted HB2015 which covers the same territory.

Now, we have “a self-proclaimed ‘tax activist’ who wants to excuse anyone 65 or older from paying property tax. Her name is Lynne Weaver and she is working with a former state GOP chairman to permanently ban property taxes on AZ home owners 65 and older.

What a ridiculous idea! As a Capitol Media Services article points out, if the initiative passes, homeowners under 65 would be left to make up the property tax burden the elderly were relieved of. This tax money after all, funds public education, emergency services and other community programs. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t rely on property taxes to fund these programs because it inevitably results in winners and losers. But the funding for these essential services has to come from somewhere and for now, that’s property taxes. Continue reading

New Year’s resolution suggestion for Finchem

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