Dick Foreman: Getting back to basics in public education

By Dick Foreman

When it comes to education basics, the seas are not just getting choppy, they’ve been choppy and seem to be getting worse. One has to wonder, after all these years of research, student data, and models of reform from all 50 states to compare to, what is really working? Have we even addressed our most basic needs?

Have we figured out this “parent choice” thing yet?

ABEC is proud to not only represent business, community and education voices, but also traditional public as well as public charter schools. We realize and support, a system of parent choice that preserves opportunities for school children of every age. Indeed, many education reforms begin with “choice.” But we must also remember that the choice by design or default of the vast majority of Arizona parents remains the traditional public school. Quite simply, Arizona families both want and expect their neighborhood schools to be both excellent choices and safe neighborhood assets. There is no rocket science engaged in this deduction. You can arrive at this conclusion not only by what school parents most often choose for their children to attend but how they buy and sell their families most precious asset, their homes.

But today, education in Arizona suffers for at least three very basic reasons.

Dick Foreman

Dick Foreman

First, the choice parents make should be based on opportunity, not failure. Some policymakers believe that the best accountability for a failing public school is to close it or abandon it. But just on the taxpayer side of things alone, stranding their assets based on the choice of a few parents is a poor calculation. In fact, it permits a catastrophic result for both children and the property values of the entire community. Making matters worse, state policies that enable increasing disparities in state education funding formulas coupled with the increased erosion of public funds through targeted tax credits is a strategy for destabilization, not student achievement or respect for choice.

Making matters worse, responsibility is dodged. When parental concerns for quality are raised, a “buyer beware” approach to selecting schools is suggested. At the accountability zenith of this policy is a traditional public or charter school whose doors are shuttered. We should never accept the failure of a public school, and we should never celebrate this heart-breaking news as an accountability. After all, the reasons for this failure were not molecularly connected to the brick and mortar!

Secondly, we know what best enables student achievement. Simply put, it is the teacher that matters. It has always been the teacher. And it will likely always be the teacher. Here’s how Kata Mihaly, economist for the Rand Corporation who specializes in using econometric modeling to assess educational achievement, puts it:

“When it comes to student performance on reading and math tests, a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor, including services, facilities, and even leadership.”

Getting bogged down in school leadership models, lawsuits over capital facilities, competition or engaged but selective parent choice as the drivers of achievement will not address Arizona student needs. It will, at best, address some student needs. And that’s not good enough for 1.1 million Arizona school children. And it is not good enough for taxpayers.

What is good enough?

Simply stated, it’s keeping a qualified teacher in position for as long a period of time as is possible. The teacher and their skills remain the single greatest barometer of student achievement that can be measured.

Third, the single greatest predictor of student success remains demographics. If a student lives in poverty, their lack of achievement is indeed predictable and unacceptable. But can this be addressed by policy? Of course, it can. In fact, 43 states have added a “poverty weight” to their school funding formulas to do just that, including Arizona. But unfortunately, Arizona has very limited application in this respect (largely, a limited weight for 3rd Grade reading).

Here is an interesting data point on this failure from Diane Ravitch’s Blog of March 1, 2018:
*Students in the South and Southwest face a “double disadvantage” because their states provide low funding with no boost in funding for high poverty districts. States with flat or regressive funding include … Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico in the Southwest.

*Only a few states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Wyoming, provide high levels of school funding and distribute more funding to their high poverty districts. Notably, New Jersey and Massachusetts are the top performing states on student outcomes.”

Perhaps there is wisdom in getting back to the basics.

How about we work with policymakers to lay down the swords of philosophical agendas and work together to positively address the real basics? First, let’s respect all public education choices and resist creating winners and losers. Parent involvement and choice should always be encouraged but not confused as a necessary antecedent to student achievement overall. Secondly, let’s encourage maintaining a highly trained, long-term teaching workforce in Arizona’s classrooms. And thirdly, let’s recognize poverty as the single greatest indicator of student achievement and do something about it in the school funding formula.

NOTE: Dick Foreman is president & CEO of ABEC.  To contact, please send him an e-mail.
 
 ABOUT ABEC

The Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC) is the coalition of Arizona business and education leaders committed to helping create public education policy essential to a vibrant, growing Arizona economy. The coalition is a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, statewide membership organization focused on K-12 public education while recognizing the importance of early childhood development, post-secondary education and workforce development.

Speaker JD Mesnard Announces New Committee Assignments

Javan D. Mesnard

Speaker Javan Mesnard

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-17) today announced several House committee assignment changes and additions.

Representative Tim Dunn (R-13) will take the place of Representative Mosley (R-5) on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and also serve on the House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee; and the House Land, Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.

Representative Dunn has expertise in agriculture and natural resource issues and represents a rural part of the state, so I know his extensive experience will have a positive impact on his committees,” said Speaker Mesnard.

Also, due to the assignment of Representative David Livingston (R-22) as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Speaker Mesnard announced that Majority Leader John Allen (R-15) will take the place of Representative Jeff Weninger (R-17) on the House Banking & Insurance Committee, and will also serve as chair of the committee for the remainder of the session.

Additionally, Representative Becky Nutt (R-14) and Representative Mark Finchem (R-11) will swap assignments on the House Land, Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee and the House Federalism, Property Rights & Public Policy Committee, with Representative Nutt assuming Representative Finchem’s duties as vice-chair.

Paul Boyer: Tax reform will help Ariz. small businesses, add jobs

Paul BoyerBy Paul Boyer

2018 is an exciting year for Arizona small businesses, which will be able to take advantage of a new 20 percent tax deduction associated with the recently passed federal tax legislation. These savings will not only benefit state small businesses, but employees, job seekers, and communities as well.

Arizona runs on small business. Our state is home to over 500,000 small businesses (defined by the Small Business Administration as employing 500 or fewer), helping employ nearly one million people. And these numbers are not unique to Arizona. Across the country, small businesses account for over 99 percent of all businesses and a net two-thirds of all new private sector jobs.

But despite the invaluable contribution small businesses had on the economy, for far too long, the structure of the old tax system actively worked against growth, with marginal federal rates reaching 40 percent. This over-taxation put small businesses at an inherent disadvantage.

Under the new tax law, a 20 percent deduction is established for all small business income less than $315,000, and non-professional service business income above that threshold. Roughly 95 percent of small businesses earn less than $315,000, meaning the overwhelming majority will benefit from the full 20 percent deduction.

Consider, for example, how this deduction would help an average Arizona small business earning $200,000 a year. This 20 percent deduction would protect $40,000 from federal taxation, freeing up much-needed resources to create jobs and raise wages. I am already hearing from dozens of businesses around the state about their plans to raise wages, hire employees, and expand with their tax savings.

This excess capital in the private economy will fuel economic growth. Contrary to popular belief, business owners will not simply pocket their tax savings. “They will follow the lead of their big business counterparts, hundreds of which, including AT&T, Comcast, and PNC Bank have used their tax savings to give workers bonuses or raise their wages, creating wealthier and more vibrant communities that touch nearly everyone.

We are even seeing specific examples of these savings here in our home state. Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service Co, announced its intention to reduce consumer bills, citing the lower corporate tax rate as the driving force behind the decision. These collective cuts could reach nearly $120 million, impacting over 25 million customers.

Arizona Public Service is giving the entirety of their tax cut back to customers. For families on a fixed income, these savings are crucial. They are able to live with a stronger sense of financial security thanks to the recent tax bill.

During my time in the Arizona State Legislature, I’ve encountered businesses longing to share their passions with the world. I witnessed humble business ventures transform into leaders of the Arizona business community. From my experience, a tax cut, like the one recently signed into law, would have done wonders in helping get these businesses off the ground. Now new businesses will finally get the relief they’ve needed for so long.

Tax cuts will give small businesses a lot to look forward to this year, meanwhile all Arizonans will reap the benefits.

Republican Paul Boyer, a high-school literature teacher, is chairman of the Arizona House Education Committee and represents Legislative District 20, based in Phoenix and Glendale. Email him at pboyer@azleg.gov

Representative Jill Norgaard Introduces Legislation to Expand Instruction Options for English Language Learners

Jill NorgaardSTATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Jill Norgaard (R-18) has introduced HB 2281, legislation that will remove the requirement of a four-hour block of daily structured English emersion for English Language Learners if they are enrolled in a dual language program.

HB 2281 passed the House Education Committee with unanimous support, of 9-0.

English Language Learners are K-12 students who are not proficient in the English language, as scored by the Arizona English Language Learner Assessment.

“Studies have shown that dual language programs can be a more effective way to educate English language learners without having to pull students from their core classes for a required four-hour block of daily emersion,” said Representative Norgaard. “Affording schools the flexibility to determine how to best educate their English Language Learners will help prevent students from falling behind and will put the power back in the hands of the teachers and families.”

Ugenti-Rita: Arizona Small Businesses Will Benefit from Tax Bill

Michelle Ugenti-RitaA little over a month ago, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, and Americans are already feeling better than ever about the state of our economy. In a recent poll from Quinnipiac University, 66 percent of Americans rated the nation’s economy as either “excellent” or “good”—a three percentage point jump since last month.

It’s difficult to not be excited about the impact the tax bill is having on Arizona and its small businesses. The relief could not have come sooner.

Arizona is home to nearly 500,000 small businesses that employ approximately one million people. For too long these entities have struggled under a burdensome tax code that has prevented growth. With the previous federal tax rate approaching 40 percent, small businesses saw much of their hard-earned revenue disappear into the pockets of Uncle Sam.

Fortunately, measures included in the new tax relief package will reduce this burden. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created a 20 percent standard deduction that applies to roughly 95 percent of small businesses and eliminates high tax brackets in favor of new, lower ones.

To put the standard deduction in layman’s terms, with the help of the new tax legislation, small businesses earning $200,000 a year are able to shield their first $40,000 of income from taxation. That extra cash can now be funneled into employee bonuses, wage increases, job creation, and business expansion. These measures will further bolster Arizona’s pro-business, pro-growth reputation.

According to a report by BMO Financial Group, Arizona’s business environment is already strong. While most state economies are expected to grow by an average of 2.2 percent, Arizona anticipates 2.8 percent growth in 2018. The tax cuts package will only accelerate that advancement.

In fact, we are already seeing some positive results in the state. Arizona-based YAM Worldwide announced it will be giving out $1.3 million in bonuses to its employees. Furthermore, over 1,000 JPMorgan Chase employees in Arizona will receive wage hikes or bonuses as part of the companies nationwide $20 billion, five-year plan to invest back into the country.

In addition, a report from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation found the bill will create almost 6,500 jobs in the state.

These must be the “crumbs” Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats scoffed at while trying to explain away the benefits resulting from tax relief. For some, these “crumbs” represent eased rent worries, the ability to afford childcare or help with the skyrocketing costs of healthcare.

The examples chronicled above are only a small piece of the benefits the tax bill has induced. Imagine the impacts Arizona will feel a year from now.

Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R) is the Chair of the Arizona House Ways and Means Committee and represents the 23rd House District

Conservative Attorney Marcus Kelley Announces for LD-20 State House

(PHOENIX) – Tuesday, conservative Republican Marcus Kelley announced his candidacy for the State House in legislative district 20. Kelley, an attorney and long-time conservative activist, filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office to represent the district that spans the north of the Phoenix metropolitan area, including parts of Glendale, in one of the district’s two house seats. Both seats will likely become open as Representatives Anthony Kern and Paul Boyer vie for the Senate seat in the Republican Primary.

Kelley who currently works as an attorney with the law firm of Goldman and Zwillinger, has also worked in state and federal government including for former State Senate President Andy Biggs and Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Marcus has worked for the American Conservative Union and later for the Republican Study Committee when then-Congressman Mike Pence was the Chairman. He graduated from the University of Arizona and the Cardozo School of Law. Kelley also serves on the governing board of a local charter school.

“I am seeking a seat in the Arizona House to continue bringing a conservative voice to public policy matters,” Kelley stated. “My years of experience coupled with my track record of consistent conservatism on the issues will represent the constituents of LD-20 well,” he asserted.

On the issues, Kelley is a strong social and fiscal conservative. He is pledged to reducing taxes and spending in a balanced and prioritized budget. He is solidly pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and is an outspoken supporter of the Second Amendment.

Kelley and his wife, Nickie, have been married for more than 13 years and have two children who attend a local charter school.

Poll: 2:1 Arizona Voters Support a Soda Tax Benefiting Education

Marijuana legalization has poor support if held in a mid-term election

PHOENIX (November 20, 2017) – Last week we released poll results regarding President Donald Trump’s approval rating and the state of the current U.S. Senate race here in Arizona. We also asked several other issue questions. Please note, none of these issues tested are on the ballot for 2018, although our results could lead to an interesting debate.

We conducted a survey of six hundred likely 2018 General Election Democratic, Republican, Independent and Non-Declared voters across Arizona, based on likely 2018 turnout participated in this survey with a +/-4% MOE.

We begin by looking at the top-line results of the first issue question regarding a soda tax:

Respondents by an almost 2:1 margin support a tax on soda where the proceeds would go directly to education with less than 10% having no opinion. Half of Republicans would be in support, and a plurality of 2/3rd’s of Democrats and Independents support the hypothetical measure.

Females were overwhelmingly supportive and far less opposed compared to males.

·       Male support/oppose       51% / 41%

·       Female support/oppose   67% / 23%

Historically, rural Arizona is more Conservative than Pima and Maricopa counties. Much to our surprise, when looking at the geographic breakdowns, rural Arizona respondents were the most supportive of such a measure, which goes against the grain given conservatives are the most ardent opponents to tax increases.  67% of rural respondents support the measure while only 24% oppose. This may say more about the perceived condition of rural education as it does political ideology.

“According to respondent’s soda is the new ‘sin’. Just like cigarettes and alcohol, people don’t mind adding taxes there for the greater good,” said Mike Noble, managing partner and chief pollster at OH Predictive Insights, a Phoenix-based leading behavioral research polling company. “Cubs win the world series, Trump gets elected president and a Bloomberg policy has 59% support in Arizona – this is the year of the possible.”

The second question dealt with legalization of marijuana:

Legalization of marijuana for personal use was on the ballot last year in Arizona. However, it failed to pass by less than 3-points even though a large amount of money was spent in support of the measure. If this measure was on the ballot for 2018 it would underperform compared to the 2016 election results.

“Legalizing marijuana in Arizona is much less viable in a mid-term election however there is a strong chance we will see them take another run at it in 2020,” said Noble.

Finally, the remaining issue questions asked:

By more than a 2:1 margin respondents opposed non-U.S. citizen students receiving the benefit of in-state tuition at an Arizona University. 85% of Republicans and half of the Independents were in opposition, although half of Democrats were in favor. Interestingly, 25% of respondents who have some college education or are a college graduate held a negative 37-point opinion.

 

Methodology: This automated survey was completed by OH Predictive Insights on November 9th, 2017, from a likely 2018 General Election voter sample. The sample demographics accurately reflected party affiliation, geographic location and gender however age leaned heavily towards 55+ respondents due to it being automated. The sample size was 600 completed surveys, with a MoE of ± 4%.

TJ Shope, Frank Pratt Named 2017 Legislative Champions by League of Arizona Cities and Towns

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker Pro Tempore T.J. Shope (R-8) and Senator Frank Pratt (R-8) last week were named 2017 Legislative Champions by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

The Legislative Champions award is given to legislators to honor their outstanding public service and dedication to local governance.

“I am honored to be named a 2017 Legislative Champion by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Shope. “Our work together ensures that communities across the state continue to grow into better places to live, work, and play.

“I am thrilled to be honored by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns,” said Senator Pratt. “Their dedication to support city and local leadership at the legislature is an asset to our state.

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is a membership-based organization comprised of municipalities throughout Arizona and provides a bridge from local cities and towns to the state legislature.

Shope Pratt

TJ Shope & Frank Pratt

Senator Sylvia Allen: The Tragedy of Charlottesville Riots

Sylvia Allen

Senator Sylvia Allen

“How can we know who we are and where we are going if we don’t know anything about where we have come from and what we have been through, the courage shown, the costs paid, to be where we are?”

– David  McCullough:  American author, and historian

By Sylvia Allen

History must be preserved and protected.  It must not be distorted and altered to fit the whim of the current political movement.  We learn from our past.  We take the mistakes and change ourselves so we don’t repeat them.  We understand the deeds of good men and women who had the courage to stand for what’s right, and we continue to emulate that.

Our American founders expressed over and over how important it was for our founding principles to be taught to future generations.  Thomas Jefferson said that we cannot be ignorant and free.  Over the last 50 years, we have distorted the past for political gain.  We have destroyed the loyalty and love for our country in the hearts of many of our youth.  We have held up other governing philosophy as superior to ours, leaving out the truth of brutal consequences.If someone is protesting peacefully (I repeat, peacefully and legally) we will respect that, even if we don’t agree with them.   It is their God given

If someone is protesting peacefully (I repeat, peacefully and legally) we will respect that, even if we don’t agree with them. It is their God given right to freedom of expression.  If we take away their rights, we have also taken away our own rights.   I strongly reject and condemn the beliefs of white supremacy groups.  I can reject their message and still allow them to peacefully speak.We need to understand the principles of fascism,

We need to understand the principles of fascism, totalitarianism and Marxism. All the “ism’s” have one thing in common; they control people’s thinking, their property and every aspect of their life. The fascism and totalitarianism ideals are so far Right that they meet Marxism and communism on the other side.  Russia, China and Germany murdered millions to control how people think or behave, often sending those who spoke out to concentration camp.  In Munich, Germany 1938, “Kristallnacht”, or The Night of Broken Glass,resulted in thousands of Jewish men, women and children being beaten and killed along with the destruction of their shops and homes. From there it led to the gas chambers.There are parallels in history with what is happening not only in Charlottesville but for the last few years of rioting in our country.  My question and concern

There are parallels in history with what is happening not only in Charlottesville but for the last few years of rioting in our country.  My question and concern is, where will it lead us to?Now we hear that the Washington and Jefferson monuments should be torn down because both presidents were slave owners.  Again, what was the world like over 200 years ago?  The entire world’s economy was slave-driven due to the lack of machinery and the fact that all things had to be produced by human energy.  Even certain African nations sold their fellow countrymen into slavery.  Indentured servants, for all intent and purposes, were slaves until their servitude time was served.  Even today, North Korea and China use slave labor.

Now we hear that the Washington and Jefferson monuments should be torn down because both presidents were slave owners.  Again, what was the world like over 200 years ago?  The entire world’s economy was slave-driven due to the lack of machinery and the fact that all things had to be produced by human energy.  Even certain African nations sold their fellow countrymen into slavery.  Indentured servants, for all intent and purposes, were slaves until their servitude time was served.  Even today, North Korea and China use slave labor.For millennia, people’s fate was determined by what station in life they were born into. Then a new dawn of governing appeared, driven by the conviction that all men are created equal and that all were born with inalienable rights from their Creator.  These thoughts revolutionized the world.

For millennia, people’s fate was determined by what station in life they were born into. Then a new dawn of governing appeared, driven by the conviction that all men are created equal and that all were born with inalienable rights from their Creator.  These thoughts revolutionized the world.Yes, some of our founders owned slaves.  They were born into

Yes, some of our founders owned slaves.  They were born into a world that had been functioning this way for thousands of years. But more importantly, our founders had the courage to declare that it was a time for change and that the current system must be reformed so that all should be free.  These doctrines are not the problem, they are eternal truths; it is mankind who finds it difficult to live them.  If those men and women in 1776 had not established a new form of government, what would America be like today?

You and I have a responsibility to stand as citizens to defend our Constitution and founding principles that have given us prosperity and individual freedom.  We must defend the rights of individuals to have freedom of expression and to believe in the dictates of their own conscience without reprisal. This was an inalienable right given to us from our Creator.   It is our time now to see if we are worthy of the blessings of freedom.  To be born free is a privilege, but to die free is an awesome responsibility.

You and I have a responsibility to stand as citizens to defend our Constitution and founding principles that have given us prosperity and individual freedom.  We must defend the rights of individuals to have freedom of expression and to believe in the dictates of their own conscience without reprisal. This was an inalienable right given to us from our Creator.   It is our time now to see if we are worthy of the blessings of freedom.  To be born free is a privilege, but to die free is an awesome responsibility.

Secretary of State Completes Preliminary Review of Referendum Petitions

Michele Reagan

On August 8, 2017, Save Our Schools Arizona filed an estimated 9,078 petition sheets containing 111,540 signatures in support of R-02-2018.

The Secretary of State’s Office has completed its preliminary review of referendum petitions in accordance with Arizona law, and has determined that the committee filed 9,291 petition sheets.  Of these, 8,950 petition sheets containing 108,224 signatures remained eligible for random sampling and County Recorder review.

A 5% random sample of these signatures has been sent to the County Recorders for signature verification under Arizona law.  In order for the measure to qualify for the 2018 General Election ballot, the County Recorders must collectively validate at least 3,767 signatures (or 69.6%) from the random sample.

The deadline for County Recorder review is September 11, 2017.

Read more about Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan here.