Category Archives: K12/AZVA

“It’s just a bunch of Mexican kids. Why should I pay for them?”

Crossposted from

There’s something that feels very inevitable about the way this Arizona school funding “settlement” is playing out.

The plan ends a lawsuit filed by schools in 2010 after the Legislature stopped giving required yearly inflation increases to basic school funding. It would funnel $3.5 billion to K-12 schools over 10 years. About $2 billion comes from increasing land trust withdrawals, and the $1.4 billion from the state’s general fund. The deal also contained several triggers that would allow the Legislature to stop mandatory inflation boosts in tough economic times.

If passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, voters would have to approve the changes in a May special election.

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Tucsonans Fight for $15 on April 15 (video)

Fast food worker at a Fight for $15 rally with her baby.

Fast food worker at a Fight for $15 rally with her baby.

Being a low-wage, service worker kind of town, Tucson has been in the Fight for $15 since the beginning in 2013. The Fight for $15 movement is spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). SEIU has been organizing fast food workers in the US and wants to raise the minimum wage to $15, since the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour is not a living wage.

Recently, SEIU also began organizing adjunct faculty to fight for $15,000/class. Currently, some adjunct faculty make only $2000-3000/class; again, even for adjuncts who teach multiple classes, this is not a living wage.

On April 15, 2015, nationwide, there will be Fight for $15 rallies in 200 cities– including here in Tucson and Phoenix. This is the fourth Fight for $15 rally in Tucson.

Below are the specifics for the Tucson and Phoenix events from the organizers and a video of the Burger King walkout in September 2014. 


Tucsonans Take to the Streets to Protest Ducey/GOP Budget

public education

Approximately 100 Tucsonans rallied against massive cuts to education proposed by Governor Doug Ducey and the #AZGOP.

More than 1000 people rallied at the Arizona Capitol to protest cuts to education on Thursday. The Phoenix rally spawned a similar protest in Tucson, where 100 people protested millions of dollars in cuts to K-12 education, $104 million in cuts to universities, and elimination of funding for Pima Community College and other community colleges in Pinal and Maricopa County.

Tucson education rally

Governor Ducey had proposed increasing prison beds and funding, while cutting education. Protesters took issue with that short-sighted idea.

ICYMI, Governor Doug Ducey and Republicans in the Arizona Legislature cooked up a terrible budget deal in secret, announced it on Wednesday, and tried to ram it through both houses before the public knew what hit them (literally). Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and the blogs– Arizonans quickly organized against Ducey’s budget plan.

You’ll remember that Ducey and the Legislature are facing a budget deficit of nearly half a billion dollars this year and over $1 billion next year, AND, thanks to Tooth Fairy Math, they believe that that can balance the budget, give millions of dollars in corporate tax cuts, and do nothing to raise revenue (to pay down the deficit or to make the tax cuts seem less ridiculous affordable.)

Parents, teachers, school board members, public education supporters, and students from 5 to 25 years old showed up in force in the two cities to tell the governor that balancing the state budget– yet again— on the backs of students and families is unacceptable. At this time, Ducey doesn’t have the votes in either chamber of the Legislature to pass his budget. Images from the Tucson rally after the jump.

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DuVal: Consider Public Banking to Heal Arizona’s Economy (video)

In early 1900s, progressives from both political parties joined forces to create the Non-Partisan League. This led to creation of North Dakata's public bank. (Cartoon published in the Non-Partisan Leader in 1912.)

In early 1900s, progressives from both political parties joined forces to form the Nonpartisan League and create North Dakota’s public bank. One of the original goals was to save family farms from foreclosure by big banks. Thanks to North Dakota’s public bank and its local investment policy, it was the only state whose economy didn’t collapse during the 2008-09 Wall Street crash. (Cartoon published in the Non-Partisan Leader in 1912.)

Both gubernatorial candidates agree that Arizona’s economy is not performing well, but they don’t agree on what to do about it.

Republican candidate Doug Ducey likes to ask audiences how many of them are from somewhere else, and of course, some people always raise their hands. Ducey’s conclusion is that because of Arizona’s great weather, people will continue to move here– despite the shortage of good-paying jobs (and water). Tourism, transplants, and related services have made money for Arizona and will continue to do so, Ducey contends.

To please his corporate donors, Ducey’s economic plan is to push for more unaffordable corporate tax cuts and follow other red state governors– most notably Kansas’ Sam Brownback and NJ’s Chris Christie— to the poor house. He also wants to duck the court order requiring the state to fully fund education (instead of paying back the $1.6 billion that the Arizona Legislature illegally took from schools). Ducey is offering more of Governor Jan Brewer’s failed Tea Party economic policies: give tax cuts even though we’re broke, balance the budget on the backs of the school children and the middle class, hope people will continue to move here, and quietly pray for more water. This is what Ducey calls “kick starting the economy.”

As Democratic Party candidate Fred DuVal aptly points out, Ducey’s plan is based upon “tooth fairy economics” (AKA trickle down economics). Although DuVal is sometimes vague on specifics, at least he doesn’t rely on magical thinking to solve Arizona’s economic woes. In debates and speeches, DuVal talks about growing local small businesses to re-build Arizona’s economy, vows to repay what the Republican Legislature stole from the schools, ties a strong public education system to economic expansion, and suggests student loan relief for teachers.

How can DuVal do all of this? One bold non-partisan strategy is to establish a public bank to keep Arizona tax money at home and use it for local investment…

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Hey Doug Ducey, don’t be coy about your health policy advisor!

It must be true, since the National Journal picked up the press release from the Arizona Democratic Party and published it online.

For Immediate Release: March 18, 2014 Phoenix, AZ-DJ Quinlan, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, released the following statement today regarding comments made by former U.S. Congressman,John Shadegg, a top healthcare advisor to Doug Ducey: “Last night during a tele-town hall conducted by gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey,Ducey’s top healthcare advisor, former U.S. Congressman John Shadegg, called Governor Brewer’s expansion of Medicaid a ‘Ponzi Scheme’ and suggested that we should ‘get rid of Medicaid’ and ‘should not have a single government-run healthcare program, period.’ Government-run healthcare programs that Arizonans rely on today include Medicare, Veterans Administration healthcare, and Medicaid.” Continue reading

A self-indulgent trip down memory lane

by David Safier

Stay_classy_rangeMy new home on The Range is official. While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is clinging to his last shred of plausible deniability, Weekly editor Dan Gibson lost his when he committed to my new position in print. He went so far as to say my presence on the blog "should class up the joint a bit." Stay  classy, The Range!

I've been looking through my old BfA posts and found (a) there are a lot of them and (b) a few of them are worth remembering. So, without anyone requesting it, I'm taking a trip down memory lane. This one stops in July, 2009. If I don't get bored, I'll keep plowing up through to the present.

• I met Mike Bryan, who started BfA, when he and I co-blogged an election integrity trial in late 2007. At lunch one day, I told him I'd like to write regularly on the blog, mainly about education. He quizzed me, probably to see if I had anything to say, then handed me the keys to the kingdom. I wrote my first post under my byline in February, 2008. Since then, the blog has grown to include multiple contributers from the Tucson and Phoenix areas.

• McCain declared his rustic pleasure palace in the Sedona area was a "ranch" in 2008. Dr. Word (a character I created for that post) was furious, saying that a ranch had sheep and cows and animals like that, and McCain's spread was all opulence, no cattle. A few others made the same observation independently of mine, but the Guardian in the U.K. actually referenced my post directly. I decided to look through the web to see if there was a real McCain Ranch and discovered there once was an appropriately fictional McCain Ranch, owned by The Rifleman on the old TV series. I uncovered a bunch of black and white stills from the show, put McCain's head on Chuck Connors' shoulders and captioned them.

• Also in 2008, I received emails from an anonymous source telling me K12 Inc. was sending student essays to India to be scored and commented on. After receiving enough details, including student papers and other materials, I wrote a long post, which I followed with other long posts. Phoenix-area journalist Brahm Resnik was the first to pick it up, then the Star, then Education Week. K12 Inc. ended the practice, stating in a letter to stockholders that "bloggers" had written about the outsourcing, that it was a mistake and the company would no longer send papers out of the country. The for profit corporation left open the option of outsourcing the papers to graduate students and others in the U.S. I've been writing about K12 Inc. regularly ever since, including a post yesterday. Many current K12 Inc. stories include a reference to the outsourcing scandal.

• Late in 2008, I received an email (I depend on the kindness of tipsters) from a young woman vet from Missouri with a young child who returned from Iraq and went on a four generation vacation to the California shore. She happened to stay at a beach house owned by then state Rep. Vic Williams, who stiffed her family for its $400 deposit. She sent me all the documentation, including the court records (she took Vic to court!) that said Vic owed her family $1800 because of expenses and other particulars. Vic continued to ignore the judge's decision. Jim Nintzel took up the cause in The Weekly. Long story short, Vic paid up, the vet used the money to help pay for tuition and books at a local community college. She and I are Facebook "friends." She seems to be getting along well.

• I began going after Goldwater Institute's education guy, Matthew Ladner, in early 2009, beginning a series of "Fools Gold" posts. Ladner decided to comment, and comment, and comment. Between him, me and a slew of verbose and knowledgeable commenters, the discussion/arguments stretched for thousands of words. Among the subjects was Ladner's contention that Arizona actually spent more per student on education than other states — something like $9,700. After back-and-forths stretching days and weeks, Ladner had to admit that his figure included capital outlays (money for buildings, etc.) which are not included in the state-by-state comparisons for a number of reasons. In a rare admission of error, Ladner wrote in one of G.I.'s Daily Emails that I had pointed out the error in his figures (he even mentioned me by name) and admitted he shouldn't have included those figures in his comparisons. Later on another blog where he contributes, Ladner called me his personal troll because I dogged his tracks so diligently. These days, Ladner works for Jeb Bush and edits the ALEC Education Yearbook, where he uses that same high figure I refuted when he writes about Arizona education spending.

• Sen. Steve Yarbrough's taxpayer-funded goldmine, his School Tuition Organization funded by Tuition Tax Credits, is back in the news. Coutesy of Tucsonan Jen Darland's voluminous research, the whole STO story made the Republic and the East Valley Trib in mid-2009 in two extensive, damning, multi-part series. I covered it as well. The Star to its discredit ignored the story, even though it was uncovered right here in Tucson. Mari Herreras wrote a very good summary of the issue in the Weekly, but anyone in Tucson who didn't read alt weeklies or blogs didn't have a clue.

• I'll end with a quote I posted in 2008 from William Makepeace Thackery's 19th century novel, Vanity Fair, which I was rereading at the time after reading it once in high school and kind of enjoying it. It's like Thackery was writing about our bitter, hatred-filled right wing. Everything old is new again.

"He was proud of his hatred as of everything else. Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt, are not these the great qualities with which dullness takes the lead in the world?"