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The future of education

The older I get, the more I find myself lapsing back to my days of the antiwar movement.

On this fine day I find myself remembering those Bob Dylan lines from Subterranean Homesick blues …

You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows

Well, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the wind currents for education in Arizona are blowing in a bad direction for 2015.

First there were the appointments to the transition team for our soon-to-be-Gov Ducey. Three folks who are unapologetic cheerleaders for charter schools – and harsh critics of the public school system – were named to get his education policy off on  – pardon the expression – the RIGHT foot.

Then there was the Duce’s campaign rhetoric. He said repeatedly that he wanted to “eliminate the waiting lists” for high-quality schools. Anyone involved in education funding knew that was a wolf-whistle to the charter-school crowd. He wanted more kiddies to gain access to vouchers that will defray the costs of a private-school education.

Then there was the Op Ed by two legislative wing-nuts, Sen.Jeff Dial and Rep. Brenda Barton, advocating funding for All-Day Kindergarten. (The op-ed was signed by a “bipartisan” group that included two Dems – Sen. Catherine Miranda and  Sen. Carlyle Begay – who  endorsed  Ducey for Governor).

Need more? Well, the Friday, Dec. 19 edition of Yellow Sheet (subscription needed) revealed that someone is taking the political temperature of Arizona voters by asking them about … wait for it … “whether it was a good idea to fully fund the wait list for charter schools ….” The poll supposedly is coming from a Tucson number. That leads me to suspect the poll is being done by GOP number-cruncher Margaret Kenski.

Here’s another shoe that’s already dropped. Let’s go back to that op ed from a “bipartisan” group of Ducey dudes in the Legislature. I’m so old I remember when All-Day Kindergarten was a “socialistic” scheme to brainwash our kiddies and was virulently opposed by the wing nuts. It only went into effect as part of a deal cut with ex-Gov Janet Napolitao. As soon as she was gone, all-Day K funding was eliminated.

So now this “nonpartisan”  op ed argues that “every kindergartner in Arizona [should] be provided the opportunity to attend full days of studies at our public schools.”

Sounds like more money for education, right?

Not so fast. As Laurie Roberts notes in a column she wrote on this topic, the All-Day K legislation they’re proposing:

“… would be contingent on the state having to follow a court order to pony up $317 million more in school funding next year. That is, they want to take money schools already were supposed to be getting — schools that are greatly hurting for cash because for years, they haven’t been fully funded — and require them to do more.”

In other words, no new money. Just take the money that schools are already owed, and make them use a chunk of it for a new legislative mandate.

There’s something their column doesn’t say – but I’ll bet the small amount of wealth I possess – is that the all-Day K money will come in the form of … wait for it … school vouchers. In other words, let parents take this dough and use it to send their kiddos to the school of their choice. After all, in the opinion of wing nuts, privately run Charters are just a different flavor of “public” schools.

And then, once those kids are enrolled in a charter, well, parents will  want to continue using vouchers at privately run schools, not those EVIL public schools that fill young heads with nonsense like evolution, global warming or other leftie science.

So, fellow pinkos. We lost the last election because too many of us sat on our butts and didn’t vote. Make no mistake. The righties won because they voted, and our folks did not.

And now the bill comes due. It will paid in the form of further erosion to public schools, while more gummint money will be channelled into a mutlti-tiered system of charter schools in which the rich get smart, the shrinking middle class finds itself paying “contributions” out of their own pockets, and the poor will relegated to the ruins that will remain once public schools are starved into submission.

I hope I’m wrong.

I don’t think I am.

 

Cheech in a lowrider

 

Hoopty: Basically, a piece of crap car. Usually cheap and/or broken down. (Urban Dictionary)

First they recognize Cuba. Now this.

Those damn Libruhls on the U.S. Supreme Court won’t stop the lower courts from letting those Messican Dreamer kids Drive! On our ‘Merikan roads!

And you thought 2014 was a return to the By-God Rule of Law!

Uh, well, y’see, federal law does say that them-thar bureaucrats in Washington get to set diplomatic policy, and that doggone Kenyan illegally occupying the WHITE House issued an Imperial Ruling. He says that if you were born somewhere else but grew up here, speak “Merikan just like a real Christian, and meet certain other requirements, well you can stay.

Jan Brewer, our soon-to-be-ex-Guv, has been trying to keep alive the Sprit of SB1070 by denying those illegals the right to get a drivers license. She’s pushed it through the courts, keeps losing, and then she appeals that ruling up the legal ladder.

Well, it looks like she’s out of  rungs.The US Supreme Court denied to hear an appeal of a decision by the 9th Circuit of the Court of Appeals. That libruhl-leaning court in (of course!) San Francisco said that if federal law says young people who grew up here can stay, well, then they can get a drivers license.

(Take heart,my GOP friends. The three stooges of conservatism – Alito, Scalia and Thomas, wanted to grant the stay and possibly overturn it).

This ain’t over, of course. Andrew Wilder, mouthpiece for our soon-to-be-ex, said they need to wait for a lower court to issue a formal order. So no new Christmas Cars for Dreamers. It reminds me of 1980, when the Iranians stuck their thumb in the eye of Jimmy Carter by refusing to release their hostages until (genuflect when you say his name) Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.

And speaking of the doozy Ducey, well, he said he supported the appeal, but will obey the law. I guess we’ll see what that means in January.

Maybe the line at DMV will start to form once Guv. Ducey takes the oath!

All irony aside, this is an excellent thing. Kids who want a job and maybe even an education (greedy punks!) just like the kids up the street can at least get a drivers license and get to work. That’s good for them, but it’s also good for you and me, since I’m confident that many of the Dreamers are simply driving around without a license because it’s so essential to life in Arizona. That means they’re uninsured!

In the meantime,watch out for those Hooptys (also spelled Hooptie, since those people don’ spell too good).

 

 

exploding GOP heads

Did you hear that? It was the sound of Republican loons reacting to news that the Kenyan was gonna recognize the Cubans!

Yup. After more than a half-century of sticking our diplomatic heads in a certain dark orafice, the US of A is going to recognize that there’s BIG island off the Florida coast, called Cuba, that’s run by a bunch of Commies!

It’s been there all the time. We’ve recruited their best ballplayers, smuggled in their best rum and cigars, and we’ve been sending them our Terrorist prisoners.Heck, we’ve even given Cuban refugees their own immigration status: plant one foot on U.S. soil and you’re welcome. If you’re a Messican, however… GTFO!

Now we’re going to recognize Cuba’s existence. Unless our New Bright-Red Congress succeeds in dragging us back into the early 20th Century, that is.

As our Prez said in an address to the Cuban people, there’s an ugly history to that half-century of embargoes. We tried to poison Fidel Castro’s cigars and his beard. According to more than a couple of conspiracy-spinning morons, they killed Kennedy! We invaded them. They emptied their prisons and dumped them on our shores, mixed in with legitimate refugees.

And on and on.

Now this ain’t over. Not while GOPer demagogues can score political points with the old-guard Cuban community. Marco Rubio, one of the stampeding herd of 2016 wannabes, has already promised no ambassador to Cuba will be confirmed, and not a dime of gummint money for an embassy will be approved. .

Jeb Bush, the so-called “smarter brother” who was supposed to be in the White House some day – and still might, said it was “just the latest in a long line of failed attempts by President Obama to appease rogue regimes at all cost.” A bunch of other Florida GOPers decried our “appeaser in chief.”

Poor ole’ Ted Cruz apparently is  apoplectic at this point. He hasn’t belched forth a torrent of condemnation. Yet. Trust me, it’s a-comin’ …

But here’s the interesting thing. Obama won 48 percent of the Cuban-American vote in Florida in 2012. In a pattern as old as immigration, the second and third generations of Cuban-Americans are becoming, well, Americans. The younger ones seem to be shifting their political allegiances based on other factors.

So go ahead and bellow. And to my GOP friend Alberto Gutier, whom I genuinely like (Happy belated birthday, by the way) the time has come to accept the new world of the 21st Century. Let bygones be just that. Move forward. Go visit your relatives.

And if you’re a cigar lover, light up one in my name.

 

Apache

 

 

I’ve avoided writing about this because … well because it was so inevitable.

Someone finds mineral wealth on land that either belongs to Native Americans, or is held sacred by them.

The Native American gets screwed, and some rich people become even richer.

Thanks to Arizona’s Congressional delegation it happened again.

Along with tax breaks for corporations and provisions that fatten political bank accounts (as if the rich bastards need even more control of the electoral process) the so-called “Cromnibus” bill that just slipped through the House and Senate included a land swap. It allows Resolution Copper to develop land near Superior, AZ, into one of the largest copper mines in the U.S.

The land in question includes Apache Leap. That plateau gained its name when some tribal members, mostly women and children, apparently, leaped to their deaths rather than submit to slaughter by the U.S. Army. Before the swap it was land that belonged to the federal gummint, who got it fair and square by killing off indigenous people. Now Resolution will own the mineral rights.

I’ve written about this before. This is sacred ground for the Apache, as well as other tribes. It was culturally significant before it became a giant headstone for a whole bunch of victims. How would you feel if someone got permission to drill for oil under the Vatican? That’s how the Apache feel about this property.

Now my obligation to “walk in another man’s shoes” (I won’t insult my indigenous brothers by using a word that refers to their footwear) applies in this case too. Yes, the town of Superior, and rural Arizona in general, needs an infusion of good old-fashioned jobs. It seems (at the moment, any way) that they’ll get the jobs. And yes, Arizona and the U.S. of A need more copper. The world runs on computers and electronics.

So Superior gets the mine. The Apache? They get the shaft.

Arizona’s Congressional delegation put aside the usual partisan slap-fest to slip this measure into the “Cromnibus.” The exception was my friend and fellow leftie, Raul Grijalva, who stood up for native peoples and environmentalists. Thanks to some green clout in the Senate, the swap was being blocked in the hope that a fairer deal could be obtained. Thanks to all youse who didn’t vote in 2014, the GOPers will soon control the Senate, so there went the opposition.

Superior is in the 1st Congressional District of Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat who relies heavily on Native American votes to stay in office. She let bygones be bygones and played kissy-kissy with Rep. Paul Gosar, the Republican who beat her in a 2010 election and the idiot who just called tribal people “wards of the federal government.”

Gosar’s ignorance on these issues is no surprise. But Kirkpatrick? This is the woman who grew up amidst the White Mountain Apache, wore camp dresses as a little girl, says Apache was her first language, and got insulted as a little girl when a playmate pointed out she was white.

I’m thinking that Apache playmate was wise ahead of her years.

Back when I was still a journalist, I was once talking to … I think he was a Yavapai.

“Any time we have to do business with you white people, we know we’re gonna get screwed,” he told me. “It’s just a matter of when and how. We get ready ’cause we know it’s coming.”

I didn’t try to argue with him then. I still can’t.

 

No dreamers

 

Some silly arguments never end.

Today I’m talking about the never-ending fight to cripple Dreamers – literally – by denying them the right to obtain an Arizona drivers license.

So far the bellowing has focused on the Dreamers themselves – young people who were brought here as kiddos, sometimes as toddlers or even babes in arms. If they don’t get citizenship they can’t get that little plastic card that allows them to drive, to drink legally, and to establish their identity for most intents and purposes.

Our outgoing Guv has appealed a federal court’s decision that these kids have a right to a license if they’re covered by the  2012 federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy enacted by Da Prez. Da Guv wants a final ruling from the five cranky old conservatives and four more-or-less reasonable folk who populate the U.S. Supreme Court.

Of course, being the pinko that I am, I strongly favor better treatment for these All-American kids, some of whom don’t even speak the language of their homeland, be it Spanish, Portuguese or Arabic.

But this argument is really about me and thee, the poor slobs who pay our taxes and need wheels to get to work or to the store.

Howwzat? Lemmie ‘splain.

If you don’t have a car in AZ it’s damned hard to get a job. Most job applications ask whether you have a license. Getting to most work-sites using mass transit can double, even triple, your daily commute time. And if a bus is late for any one of a million reasons, you’re late. Bosses tend to lose patience when you’re chronically late, so then you lose your job.

So; if you’re a dreamer you have two choices. Sit around and mooch off others…

Or drive without a license.

Which would you do? If you’re a dreamer the legal status of your parents is shaky, so they can’t earn much. A Dreamer who doesn’t work is another mouth to feed. And it’s not like they can go to school. If they’re Dreamers they don’t qualify for anything close to a reasonable tuition rates at our universities or community colleges.

Oh, and let’s set this straight. If you’re not here legally you CANNOT get food stamps or any other assistance. The Arizona Department of Economic Security has strict policies about checking immigration status. I know, ’cause I used to work there, and I had to defend them to the media.

So what do you do? Well, you lie to get a job. Oh yeah, I’ve got a license. I may not have it with me at the moment …

Then you drive. Illegally.

Needless to say that’s risky. Some day you’ll hit a traffic stop by some cop. Many of them (especially if their boss is Sheriff Joe) are just salivating for an opportunity to check that suspicious-looking brown kid. That’s a vehicular version of Russian Roulette. Ya know you number will come up at some point.

Or maybe that Dreamer kid will get in an accident – maybe with you.

Or maybe with me.

Does the Dreamer have insurance? Pshaw! Insurance companies are picky about stuff like that. If you can’t give them a license they won’t give you insurance.

But even if the kid does manage to get insurance somehow, it probably won’t apply if the driver doesn’t have a valid license.

So if there’s an accident, even a minor fender-bender, who takes the (pardon the term) hit?

You do. Or I do. We’ll have to seek coverage under the “uninsured motorist” provisions of our own policies. That counts on your record, so your car insurance premiums will skyrocket. The coverage might also be less, in which case you’ll have to eat more out-of-pocket costs for fixing your car, or, heaven forbid, any hospital costs.

So who benefits from letting Dreamers drive?

You do. I do. We all do.

Let ‘em drive. Legally. We’ll all be better off.

 

 

Broken Record

 

So Tonight Ted Simons gathered the usual grungy group of suspects (hey, they’re journalists, so the consider it a compliment) for the Journalists Roundtable on public television’s KAET Horizon.

Most of their considerable wind was expended on the topic of next year’s budget, which is just as balanced as my own mental health – in other words, not at all.

So what are they gonna do, Simons asked these great thinkers from Da 4th Estate?

Uh, we don’t know, they replied. We just don’t see how you can come up with a budget that closes a $1.5 billion gap – not including another $1 billion that was illegally withheld from education (that’s not ME saying it; the courts have ruled that they broke the law).

Let’s climb into our Way-Back machine, boys and girls, and dial time back to the campaign for Governor. Remember that? They stuffed so much political sewage in your eyes and ears you blindly sustained the status quo?

Well back then both Doug “Cold Stones” Ducey, and that hapless Libruhl Lobbyist Fred DuVal (boo!) said they were gonna find a way to balance the budget without raising taxes. Yeah, sure, the establishment types smirked (including our media geniuses). Ain’t gonna happen. Fred said he’d look for reforms, such as a unified procurement system, to lower costs, and maybe turn state-owned turf into another land rush. He got laughed out of the race.

The Duce, on the other hand, said he’d go “line by line” through the budget and find the fat. Somehow that was given more credence, though literally every goofball who’s ever run for Guv had said the same damn thing. It never happens.

So. Now what?

Well, the boys and girl (Mary Jo Pitzl) replied, Duce is saying he won’t raise taxes. And as Howie Fischer noted, he selected former Speaker Kirk Adams to be his chief of staff. Adams pushed through a bunch of tax cuts that will be hitting the revenue stream this year, so ya know he’ll be reluctant to re-raise taxes on his Chamber of Commerce buddies.

And that pesky Howie brought up that $1 billion problem facing the state because they ignored voters by refusing to give public schools enough money to cover inflation. They’re telling the judge that it’s impossible to pay back the money they stole re-directed out of education. But the judge has already told them to pay up. If that means deep cuts or (wash my mouth out!) tax increases, well that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Saying you don’t wanna do it is not a legitimate legal excuse, Da Fish noted.

So; where are we?

Well, Toto, we’re in Kansas, where Sam Brownback is a budget cycle or two ahead of the Duce in implementing the Koch Bothers Republican solution to gummint: cut spending, and watch the economy take off.

Except economic growth in Kansas is running way behind the national average – and so is Arizona. Them-there tax-and-spend states like California, however (another boo) are running nice budget surpluses.

So; if you want to know what’s coming, look to the Cornhusker State, described by da media as a “petri dish for conservative fiscal policy.”

You may have heard that one before. We libruhl Fred lovers kept harping on that during the campaign. We tried to warn you.

You tuned out our broken record.

Now you’ll have to listen, because such “big gummint” frills as education, road maintenance and other essential services, are gonna suffer bigger cuts than Lizzie Borden’s parents. Prisons? Well, they need more beds for felons (mostly) of color. Ya can’t just let them bad people run rampant, and apparently you get in trouble if you shoot ‘em. So they’ll probably get more money.

Yeah. Get ready folks. You elected these bozos. Now you’re gonna sow what ya reaped.

 

Seal the border

 

 

 

So now the Republicans are huffing, puffing and threatening to seal the House off from any invasion by some Kenyan-born dictator.

Yup. Yesterday the House said it was holding its breath until it turned … RED … ’cause Obama had THE NERVE to do something about reforming immigration when they haven’t finished talking the issue to death. Sure they weren’t doing anything about it, but – CONSTITUTION!

Yeah, GOPers know it’s only symbolic. Even after January, when they  take control of the Senate. Obama has said he’ll veto any bill that tries to blunt his decision not to prosecute hard-working men and women – or their kiddos – who ignored immigration laws that make it impossible to enter the country legally.

There. That’ll show him!

No? Y’mean he won’t surrender? Well, then we’ll just bar the doors to the House so Obama can’t deliver a Presidential State of  The Union Speech, something every Prez has done since 1913, when Woodrow Wilson started giving the Constitutionally required speech instead of just sending a strongly worded letter.

Why? Well, this President isn’t white just doesn’t show any respect to GOPer values, which include a refusal to let them damn foreigners come in here with them-there drugs, refried beans, and ISIS terrorists!

Does that do it?

Probably not.

What the heck? Washington’s a big city.

Maybe he could hold it someplace else … like in front of the Lincoln Monument?

Yeah, that’ll show who’s right, and who’s on the side of the disempowered.

 

Don't shoot



“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  

- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Throughout my sorry-assed life as a journalist and a bureaucrat, I always tried to view the world through the eyes of the other person. To do this properly, I believe you need to walk in their shoes and feel the pain of their psychological bunions.

Let’s do this as we view Ferguson, Mo.

In 2008 Barack Obama hooked me with his famous “Race Speech.”

He told us about his beloved maternal grandmother, “a [white] woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.”

Obama told us about how it felt to  be a young male wearing black skin; how it felt to be treated like a felon every time he walked in a store or strolled down a street. He was joined in that by Attorney General Eric Holder, who told his own tale of being stopped, questioned and prejudged as a dangerous individual just because of his skin color.

Obama knows that similar burdens are borne by so many others. He talked about “all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream,” and how “there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination.” When my Irish ancestors arrived, they found people who wouldn’t hire them because they were obviously dumb drunkards. And my Jewish ancestors? Well, need I elaborate on the plight of the Jews in Europe, and why the Meissners came here to escape it?

Let’s keep this in mind as we walk in the shoes of the those who live in Ferguson, Mo.

Let’s start with Michael Brown.

 

Michael Brown - Ferguson

 

Michael Brown was a young man who lived in poverty. He grew up in a town where all the cops, all the elected officials, and all the people with power are white. Everywhere he went, he was treated as a dangerous young black male. He felt like he had no avenue for advancement. But he also felt the power that only comes from being large and intimidating – especially as a black adolescent.

I guess he walked into a convenience store and stole a few items. When the store owner confronted him, a store video shows, Michael Brown whirled and intimidated that business owner with his presence as a large African-American adolescent.

By the way. Was this just another white dude trying to get rich at the expense of poor people of color?

 

Ferguson store owner

 

Uh, no.

So then we come to Officer Darren Wilson. My peeps  demonize him while the Fox News Crowd have nominated Officer Wilson for sainthood.

Officer Darren Wilson

This evidence photo, taken after Michael Brown’s killing, apparently shows a bruise sustained by Officer Wilson. He said it happened when Brown tried to wrestle away his service weapon.

Darren Wilson is a cop. I’m half-Irish, so of course I have cops in my lineage. The woman whose shares my home and my bed is the daughter of a cop. I have dear friends who were cops.

Let’s see the world through a police officer’s windshield.

There’s an old truism about police work: 10 percent of the population commits 80 percent or more of the crime. For nine years I worked in juvenile corrections. I saw this. A majority of the teens we locked up had a close family member who was either doing time in prison, or had been incarcerated at least once. These kids came from that high-crime sliver of the population, and they were overwhelmingly young men of color.

That’s what cops see. They patrol low-income communities and try to keep people safe. When they see bad acts, they are often committed by people of color. Then they go  go home to safe communities where everyone looks like them – especially if they’re white.

Do you honestly think that doesn’t impact their psyches? Of course it does.

I had an Uncle Mike. He was a New York cop who worked some really bad neighborhoods in the South Bronx, beneath the shadow of Yankee Stadium. He lived in a bedroom community in Long Island where deed restrictions prohibited the sale of homes to blacks. And yes, I heard Uncle Mike use the “N” word as he bragged about cruelty to people of color.

I also had a cousin Bill. He was assigned to a Harlem police station. One night, while Bill was filling out paperwork, he was attacked for no apparent reason by a man of color. Cousin Bill pulled his service revolver and killed his assailant.

So before you judge, walk in the shoes of these people:

  • The black male. He lived a life of hopelessness in a community where white people hold the power.
  • The South Asian store owner. He’s trying to operate a store in a community avoided by white business owners because crime is so rampant.
  • A white cop. He deals with bad guys who are usually black. He lives in a safe all-white community, and interacts in a law enforcement environment where racism is deeply imbedded because the bad guys are people of color.

Welcome – not only to Ferguson, but to the America in which we all live.

Anglos live in safe communities that are walled off – in the case of  Arizona we’re often talking about gated communities that are literally behind walls and fences.

Minorities, far more Latino than Black in my home state, live in high-crime areas.

Law officers, especially those who work for a certain “World’s Toughest Sheriff,” stop Latino males for broken taillights, cracked windshields or even a license plate that is not illuminated. Then they look for guns, drugs, outstanding warrants, or for people who don’t have legal immigration status.

Most cops do it because they’re trying to stop crime before someone else is victimized. Their reasons are pure, but their techniques can only be described as racist.

That’s our America.

So what do we do? Throw up our hands and accept this reality?

No.

Hell no.

We must establish tough rules for the people who are given a gun, a badge, and the authority to incarcerate or shoot other people. If they don’t live up to standards of fairness, equity and lawful behavior they must be held accountable.

That’s not how it works right now. As we saw in Ferguson, current laws  make it virtually impossible to punish police violence.

That has to change.

We need to create a safe environment for that store owner. Find some way to protect him and his inventory from people who want to steal it. Until that happens we will have “food deserts” where nutritious food is hard to find, and where prices are much higher than in other communities.

And most important, we must create a world where a Michael Brown, a Manuel Lopez, and all people of color no longer encounter hostility and lose hope simply because they’re wearing skin of a slightly different color.

Wouldn’t that be a nice America?

 

 

 

 

Destroy Education

 

A little item slipped by the Mainstream media practically unnoticed on Thursday.

Our next Guv named the members of his Educational Transition Team. The names represent the finest(?) GOPer thinking on education. I guess that’s why the media hounds failed to wake up and smell the napalm that is being dropped on public schools.

I doubt that supporters of public education failed to notice. After all, Ducey’s education policy will be set by folks who are not only voucher lovers. They also are on record in opposition to public schools.

Think I’m kidding? Let’s take a look at them:

1. Lisa Graham Keegan is a former legislator and state schools superintendent who has emerged as a national voice for vouchers. In a Fall 2000 article in City Journal Magazine, she said the following: “‘[I]f local control means school district control, we shouldn’t hesitate to use state policy to undermine it.” 

In other words she has not come to praise public school districts. She wants to destroy them

2. Matthew Ladner, Senior Advisor for Policy and Research at the Foundation for Excellence in Education and a former Goldwater Institute attack dog on behalf of school vouchers. Ladner is also a national voice for dismantling public schools.

He wants to replace public schools with a universal voucher system in which parents will pick a privately run school and use a few gummint dollars to underwrite tuition. This would create a stratified, highly segregated system in which rich kids get subsidies for their high-priced education, most of us get mediocre schools that will require parents to pay more, and the poor will get lousy schools.

He sure as heck ain’t no friend of public school districts. In a 2008 online “live chat” on the Goldwater Institute website, Lander dropped this little gem:

“[W]hy do we have school districts at all? New Zealand eliminated them, and had schools governed by an elected board of parents with children attending the school. This freed considerable bureaucratic resources for use in the classroom.”

3. Last, and certainly not least, we have Erik Twist, Vice President of Archway Advancement at Great Hearts Academies, a charter school organization.

In 2012 Twist, then headmaster of Archway Classical Academy Veritas, issued an email blast from his taxpayer-funded computer urging a no vote on a plan to improve school funding by making a one-cent hike in the state sales tax permanent.  To his credit, Twist publicly apologized for unknowingly violating state law against using state resources for politics. The fact that he didn’t know it was illegal, he said “was no excuse.”

In case you don’t remember, Ducey was then a relatively obscure state Treasurer who agreed to head an effort to kill that education measure. His success was a prelude to his successful campaign for Governor, so again it’s no surprise that he was picked to guide Ducey’s education policy.

Ah, but what did Twist say in that email? He urged a no vote on money for public schools because it would “throw taxpayer money indiscriminately into a flawed education system.”

So what does this all mean?

Just as folks said during the campaign, Ducey has no intention of putting more money into public schools. He doesn’t want to obey voters – or a court order – by repaying about $1.5 billion that was unlawfully withheld from public education.

And his “solution” to education is to push all Arizona kids into a voucher system.

If that means the death of the public schools system that created the best-educated, most productive workforce the world has ever seen …

Well, that seems to be the point.

 

Rep. David Schweikert

It’s a long-standing tradition among GOPers. Turn reality on its head to stymie environmental protections.

Back in the days of (Genuflect as you utter his Name) Ronald Reagan, they put a wilderness hater named James Watt in charge of the Interior Department.

And now that the Republicans are in charge of Congress, Lamar Smith of the Great Republic of Texas is the lead dog on The House Science Committee. Smith is the guy who questions the validity of clean-air rules while holding hearings about space aliens. Now another “what climate change?” dude is running the House Subcommittee on the Environment.

We’re talking about Arizona’s own Rep. David Schweikert.

Schweikert is proud of a bill he co-sponsored that – I couldn’t possibly make this up – prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from relying on actual science when it makes  decisions about things like global warming, which Schweikert has dismissed as a “myth.”

In true Khafkaesqe fashion, Schweikert’s bill says the EPA can’t cite a scientific study unless “all the data” is unveiled. Never mind that it might include the names and addresses of participants in a medical study – which would violate federal rules protecting patient privacy – and never mind that it might involve the release of proprietary information. In other words, the EPA would be prevented from using just about any legitimate environmental study based on medical data.

Of course Schweikert knows this is the case – just like he knows that EPA limits on coal-fired plants have a “negligible environmental benefit.”

And of course the GOPer-dominated House passed Schweikert’s bill on Wednesday.

Now apparently this doofus denier thinks he can take out John McCain in 2016. According to The Hill, the local newspaper for Capitol Hill, Schweikert will “consider future runs — including a primary challenge to Sen. John McCain — after the (Thanksgiving andChristmas) holidays.” Translation: He’ll announce that he’s taking on McCain in early 2015.

The scary thing is that it just might work. After all, we’re not talking about rational humans. He’ll take on McCain in an Arizona Republican primary. Remember Arizona’s red elephants have already censured McCain. They think he plays too much kissy-kissy with Democrats.

Can Schweikert win? Will Arizona deep-six Common Core education standards?

Consider this: A Citizens United poll showed Schweikert leading McCain 40 percent to 34 percent among likely Republican voters in a hypothetical match-up, according to The Hill.

Hmmm. Citizens United. Sounds familiar? Who else in Arizona has ties to them? Gee; I wonder if Schweikert will be able to raise any money for a Senate race?

 

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