House Ed. Committee Poised to Stifle Voice of Voters: SB1313

The first effort to strip our duly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) of powers was during the Legislature’s last session.  Thankfully, HB2184 was held in the House.  The second whack at our eleted SPI was brought forward this session by Sen. Jeff Dial, via SB1416.  

SB1416 has been held by Speaker of the House David Gowan, until very recently, when he caved under pressure from Governor Ducey.  Gowan is currently running as a "conservative" for U.S. Representative in CD1.  Is "caving under pressure" a trait you seek in a U.S. Congressman?  

SB1416 has now morphed into an even uglier SB1313, championed by Rep. Paul Boyer, known for his disdain for parental authority in matters relating to the education of their children.  See Rep. Paul Boyer Won’t Allow Parental "Opt Out" Bill to be Heard! , Boyer Blocking Parental Choice, Privacy Bills , and Boyer Tries To Dodge Public On SB1313, Education Overhaul  

See below for a Summary of SB1313 by Vicki Alger, Ph.D.

Very simply, THIS BILL MUST BE STOPPED!

The House Education Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 16, at 2:00 PM, to vote on SB1313.  Click HERE for the agenda.  Please call, visit, use the RTS (virtual Request to Speak), email the following Committee members as soon as possible!

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The Legislature’s Pyrrhic Victory? SB1416 Strips Superintendent of Power

If the Arizona Legislature succeeds in passing Senator Jeff Dial’s repulsive SB1416, this is what they will have accomplished:   

Turned Arizona’s only elected official within the Department of Education into a water boy kowtowing to the will of 10 unelected, historically incompetent and downright dangerous, wasteful members of the State Board of Education.

Arizona’s voters won’t be fooled into believing that this bill "merely clarifies statutes," as Dial states. The voters who put Ms. Douglas into office aren’t that stupid. 

This is what will be very clear to voters:   The Legislature has removed the Superintendent’s effective representation of the voter’s mandate.  The Legislature has devalued and dishonored the voters. The Legislature has told the voters to “stuff it.”   The Governor, if he signs it, will be signing one of the worst "anti-voter", anti-elected official" bills we’ve seen in a long time.

Historically, members of the State Board of Education, serving at the will of whichever Governor appointed them, love to wield power, without a shred of deliberation, debate, or accountability. (Recent Ducey appointees Jared Taylor and Chuck Schmidt are the exceptions.) Here are just a few of their thoughtless, costly, and downright dangerous actions: 

The SBE’s reputation for lowering standards.  "In 2005 the State Board, over the objections of state Superintendent Tom Hornereduced the passing grade on the AIMS test from 72 percent to 59 percent for reading, and from 71 percent to 60 percent for math.  Even with the reduced passing threshold, and a math test that has gotten progressively easier, just 61 percent of the class has passed after three attempts."  Most State Board of Education members said lowering the scores would look as if they were lowering the bar and backing off high standards for high school graduates, but still they voted 9-1 to do it. And the Legislature, in their vast wisdom then as now, got into the actallowing grades in class work to add as much as 25 percent to a student’s AIMS results

The SBE spent untold thousands of dollars developing new Math standards in 2008/2009, only to dump them for Common Core Math in 2010.  

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Fear and Trembling in Phoenix: A Common Core Cautionary Tale, Part I

Vicki Alger, PhD
Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
Author of 
Failure: The Federal “Misedukation” of America’s Children (forthcoming) 

This post originally appeared in THE BEACON.

Arizona is widely hailed as the national leader in school choice. It is also one of a growing number of states turning against Common Core. But you wouldn’t know it from what’s going on inside the Capitol these days.

Proposed legislation affirming parents’ basic rights over their children’s education is being held or amended within an inch of its life in the House and Senate Education Committees—all in spite of an explicit statutory Parents’ Bill of Rights affirming their inalienable liberty over their children’s education and upbringing (see here and here).

As more states fight back against federal contamination of classrooms, Arizona offers an important lesson about extinguishing Common Core for good—so it doesn’t keep rising from the dead in one infectious form or another.

About a year ago Arizona Governor Doug Ducey urged a “review and revise”  placebo instead of a “repeal and replace” antidote for Common Core. Last fall at the urging of the state’s elected pro-parental choice/anti-Common Core Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, a majority of the State Board of Education voted to sever ties with it—but the board left the Common Core -influenced standards and the reviled AzMERIT state assessment

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HB2115 Passes the Government and Higher Education Committee

"Everything at the City of Phoenix is geared toward the employees," DiCiccio said.  "The taxpayers come last, always."  See Undisciplined Bureaucracy: Civil Service Job Protections Make Disciplining a Problem Government Employee Complicated, Costly and Time Consuming    

An extremely good bill, HB2115 passed its first Committee hearing on 1/28/2015: 6 in favor, 2 against, 1 absent.  It would have passed 7-2, because Rep. Justin Olson (LD25), who was absent, was one of the bill’s Primary Sponsors.  But it has a long way to go to become law.

Please recall from my original articleRep. Warren Petersen (LD12) crafted this legislation as a deterrent, making public officials think twice before illegally spending thousands of taxpayer dollars, thinking they can walk away with lucrative taxpayer-paid benefits or severance pay.  After watching the committee hearing, including Phoenix Council member Sal DiCiccio’s comments, it’s clear that government employees enjoy far more "job protections and tolerance for bad behavior" than private sector employees.  

In the case of Stephen Banta, CEO of Valley Metro, following an investigation by The Republic, they reported that Banta was reimbursed with taxpayer funds for flying first-class, buying alcohol, staying in $600/night hotels, and eating in some of the most expensive restaurants in Portland, charging all of it to the taxpayers, while running Valley Metro. This included 44 round-trip airfares between Phoenix and Portland from February 2010 to July 2012 for Banta and his wife.  The Republic also found that Banta was reimbursed for dinners that included guests who said they didn’t attend those dinners.   

In spite of all this, Banta was awarded $265k in an annuity upon termination of employment.  

Democrat Lela Alston (LD24), who voted against the bill, commented:  "Maybe his contract should have read: ‘You can’t take your wife on vacations using public funds.’" Democrat Jonathan Larkin (LD30) agreed.

In another recent case

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Support HB2115: No Payouts/Benefits for Public Officials Who Misappropriate Taxpayer Dollars!

Rep. Warren Petersen has crafted legislation that will have a chilling effect on public officials who illegally waste money and then walk away with lucrative benefits or severence pay.  It’s HB2115 Simple, straightforward, brief.  (This bill is scheduled to be heard Jan. 28 at 9:00 am in the Government and Higher Education Committee.  See ACTION at the end of this article.)

Should a public official who is caught and terminated for fraudulently, lavishly spending taxpayer dollars on meals, travel, hotels, entertaining, etc., go on to receive lucrative payouts, annuities, pensions, and other benefits?  

Rep. Warren Petersen doesn’t think so, and neither do the many other sponsors and co-sponsors  of this excellent bill.  HB2115 spells out that anyone who is found guilty would forfeit any future benefits. While there already are laws on the books against fraud and misappropriation of public funds, these cases don’t always get pursued as the official is fired or even allowed to quit.

HB2115 ensures that these public officials forfeit any future benefits.  States Petersen: “All too often, those who are caught and terminated leave with lavish payouts, annuities, pensions and other benefits.  Termination from a high position in government office should not be like winning the Lotto. Rewarding someone for bad behavior can only encourage more of the same.” See Petersen Seeks to Prevent Lavish Payouts to Errant Public Officials.
Two cases come to mind: 

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Arizona K-12 School Finance Statistics: Why does Arizona Rank #48 in Per Pupil Spending?

You’ve heard the mantra, especially from newspaper editorials around Arizona, accusing the Legislature of "disgraceful, seemingly willful abandonment of our public schools."   (See Payson Schools facing Tough Competition.)   Arizona’s news editors don’t want you to know the "rest of the story," if it doesn’t fit their Leftist world view.  What are the facts?  

The Arizona Tax Research Association (ATRA) has put together an 8-page document titled Arizona K-12 School Finance Statistics: Providing Context to a Complex Measurement, that provides factual information relating to the reasons and fallacies surrounding the commonly argued narrative that Arizona doesn’t fund K-12 education adequately. 

Summary

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Is Your Arizona Legislator a Hero of the Taxpayer or Friend of Big Government?

Arizona’s Americans for Prosperity has published its 2015 Scorecard, ranking all Arizona legislators on their performance during the last legislative session.  Does your legislator support you and your family?  Or does he or she prefer to drain your prosperity and hand it over to government?   Click the 2015 Arizona Legislative Scorecard to find out.  

Heroes of the Taxpayer include:  Sen. David Farnsworth (LD16), Sen. Judy M. Burges (LD22), Sen. Sylvia Allen, (LD6), Sen. Steve Smith (LD11), Rep. Warren Petersen (LD12),  Rep. Eddie Farnsworth (LD12), Rep. Steve Montenegro (LD13), Rep. Anthony Kern (LD20), Rep. Darin Mitchell (LD13), and Sen. Debbie Lesko (LD21).

Who are the Worst Republicans?

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