David, Before voting Yes you really need to carefully read the language of Prop 123. All of the money that will be taken from the Land Trust will go directly into the General Fund. Once in the general fund it can be spent however the legislature and El Duce want to spend it. It may go to fund school districts, but it may not. Now that El Duce has proven that court decisions are not worth the paper they are written on there is absolutely no reason to believe all ...or even most...of the money will go to public schools. Assuming all...or most...of the money goes into public schools there is every reason to believe the governor will use the Land Trust money to "supplant" rather than "supplement" any money the legislature would have appropriated for public education. From El Duce's perspective the entire reason to propose and pass Prop 123 was to secure an additional funding source for tax breaks for his well-connected wealthy friends.
Finally, besides the tentative budgets being put forward by school districts anxious to secure a Yes vote on Prop 123, there is no reason to believe a significant portion of the funding will go to increase teacher compensation. Districts like TUSD and SUSD that spend less than 50% of their revenue inside of the classroom (on teacher pay) will continue to do so. Those that are already spending the bulk of their revenue on teacher compensation will also continue to do so. In short, Prop 123 will ultimately not benefit teachers, nor will it benefit students since inadequate compensation is already a huge barrier to Arizona's ability to attract and retain the great teachers students need and deserve.
It is kind of silly to blame Sanchez for getting too much compensation. The folks who are to blame are the three members of the TUSD Governing Board who put the financial interests of the superintendent ahead of the needs of teachers and students. Blaming Sanchez may feel good, but the ones who are supposed to represent the families and taxpayers of TUSD are the elected Board members, and Grijalva, Foster and Juarez need to go in order for TUSD's priorities to change. With those three running the district the needs of students always seem to be left out.
David, apart from calling David Garcia a "progressive," this is a darn good column. Your assessment of the Arizona situation is essentially correct. Il Duce(y) has been trying to replace the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction with a shadow group of for-profit charter school operators and privatizers.
What you might want to asses is how, right now, the Obama administration is supporting these same for-profit charter operators as they move forward in their efforts to cherry-pick the top students from neighborhood schools and leave all the tough-to-educate students in their neighborhood schools. You also might want to check out the national debate over the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act where a Republican-crafted draft that will replace the annual over-testing of students in public schools, referred to by Lily Eskelsen Garcia of NEA as "toxic-testing," with far fewer mandated federal tests during a student's school years. President Obama opposes any bill that does not continue his emphasis on annual testing of students.
So far this has all been about political game playing. Sanchez and Douglas are ...for now...playing nice with each other because they each think this is the best way to preserve their own jobs. When Sanchez starts to get beaten up by the Common Core folks for making common cause with Douglas and she gets beaten up by everyone who thinks ethnocentric education is not a good thing we may see a pair of 180 degree changes. David may well be right that it is too early to say how it all will shake out.
When TUSD dismantled the old MAS classes, the board made a commitment to redesign the history and literature classes to reflect all of our history...warts and all. Sadly, the TUSD board never followed through with that commitment. Instead we get the same old "Woe us me. We are such victims of the oppressors nonsense" that characterized the MAS classes. A rigorous set of classes in history and literature are the cure for this disease, but there are too many political points to be scored by promoting ethnocentrism and downright racism.
By the way, David, according to Dr. Romero...the guru of MAS...the only difference between MAS classes and the CRC being used by TUSD is the name. How do you square his well-documented statement with your assertion that there are key differences between the two? After all, Shakespeare may be a dead old white guy, but his statement about a rose by any other name could well be applied to MAS...though the predicate in the statement would have to be altered.
You might also have mentioned that federal judge Tashima found the law to be constitutional. It is his decision that has been appealed.
Jana Happel says: : If schools are failing AYP merely because of opting out, it puts focus on the parents' civil disobedience and their concerns and also reveals the system to be a sham."
I agree that one possible near-term consequence of sufficient numbers of students to opt out of the tests resulting in every-increasing numbers of schools failing to make AYP. I would ask you to examine two other pieces of the entire picture before you conclude this is a positive result.
Many observers have said all along that the goal of NCLB was to privatize public schools by "proving" to voters that public education has failed. To a great extent what we are seeing now... with the proliferation of tuition tax credits and charter schools ...is the success of that strategy. Is opting out of testing along with the increase in "failing" schools it leads to, going to increase the mis-perception that public schools are failing? If so, opting out as a strategy to defeat the corporate takeover of public schools is a supposed remedy that makes the disease spread more rapidly.
What are the chances that a parent-led movement to defeat the misuse of tests is going to get fair coverage by the media that provides most people with their wrong assumptions about the relative success of charter schools and private schools compared with public schools? Tell folks who only get their news from any of the major networks that charter schools as a whole and private schools as a whole under-perform district public schools and you had better be prepared for a whole lot of cognitive dissonance. That is a result of the same biased coverage that any opt-out movement is likely to receive.
Jana Happel said, "The reason they give is that they are quaking in their boots because federal Title I funding may be restricted if a certain percentage of students are not tested."
I agree that the potential loss of Title I funding is certainly a factor that has silenced state education officials and school board members, but the consequences of large numbers of students opting out of tests goes much deeper than that. Title I funding is a part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known by its acronym, ESEA. ESEA was first passed by Congress back in the 1960s. In fact, Title I means that is the first part (Title I) of ESEA. Every time it has been reauthorized Congress has attached a memorable name to it. The most current version of ESEA is best known as No Child Left Behind. Under No Child Left Behind schools and school districts face an increasingly severe set of consequences for failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP.) One component of AYP has always been having at least 95% of students in the school, and every grade level in the school, take the standardized tests mandated by the state Every year schools fail to make AYP because they don't have 95% of their students taking the tests.
One of the very first consequences of failing to make AYP is the redirection of Title I funds away from classrooms and into Supplemental Services such as tutoring. Further failure to make AYP leads to even more severe consequences, such as the loss of district control over the schools that fail to make that benchmark, the loss of the jobs of some teachers and principals, and the turning of failing district schools over to private management companies.
The consequences of failing to make AYP are severe, and that made waivers from NCLB even more critical. Since the waivers required states and districts to buy into the Common Core standards and the tests that go with them, the fears of school boards are legitimate. The use of waivers to blackmail districts and states into accepting this overuse and misuse of testing that is part and parcel of the Common Core must be owned by the Obama administration. While it is understandable that school officials do not want to encourage parents to have their children opt out of these tests it is less understandable why they have remained silent on the broader issues of testing abuse and misuse.
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