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March 1, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona's Economic Competitiveness

  |   Video
  • Former Intel Executive Craig Barrett talks about what he believes Arizona must do to compete for jobs and grow its economy.
  • Craig Barrett - Former executive,Intel
Category: Business/Economy

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Ted Simons: Former Intel chairman of the board and CEO Craig Barrett worked in an industry that demands educated talents. One of Barrett’s missions is to help improve that talent pool by encouraging the U.S. to develop top students, scientists, and engineers. To that end, Barrett helped author a report titled "Rising Above the Gathering Storm." Here to talk about his ideas is Craig Barrett. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Craig Barrett: Nice to be back.

Ted Simons: What did this report set out to do?

Craig Barrett: The report really was driven by the national academy of science engineering institute of medicine, and it really looked at the competitiveness of the United States in the 21st century. How do we compete education wise, research wise, environment wise with other countries. Like the likes of China and India, Europe, Japan. The first report came out in 2005, it was not a flattering report, it basically said we are not stacking up well from a competitive standpoint. We did a follow-up report in 2010, five-your update, and the subtitle of the five-year update was "rising above the storm, approaching a category 5." That gives a hint we said five years after the first report was published, we're in worse shape than when we initially published.

Ted Simons: Why are we in worse shape? What's going on out there?

Craig Barrett: The rest of the world is looking at the 21st century as the century of knowledge and education, of innovation. And the important things there are educating your work force; you know that the quality of life, the standard of living, the average salary you get is going to be dependent on the average education of your work force. We can talk about where the U.S. resides in this area. The generation of new ideas, investment in research and development, that's fallen dramatically as a percentage of our gross domestic product over the last 20 or 30 years. And the environment. The environment is a lot of things. Intellectual property protection, corporate tax rates, the environment to invest in innovation, why would anyone want to come to the United States, or if your in the U.S. invest in the U.S. in a business?

Ted Simons: And the recommendations regarding the report, I want to get to those in a second, but let's stick with education here and what -- we get reports -- we've heard about this for a while, the rest of the world is beating us up down and sideways in a variety of categories. Is anyone even trying to change, or are we all just sitting around throwing ideas against the wall and watching them?

Craig Barrett: It's an interesting problem. The first major report on this topic, "the nation at risk" came out 30 years ago, three decades ago. Basically it said exactly the same thing our report said, "rising above the gathering storm," which was K-12, public K-12 system is broken, people that are coming out of it on average are substandard to the rest of the world, we need to do something dramatic. That was followed up by another report that astronaut John Glenn chaired, "before it's too late," in the 1990s. National governors association have met two or three times, issued reports, "rising above the gathering storm" issued a report. The issue is, you don't need another report. The solutions to education are really pretty simple. Every great performing education system in the world has three characteristics. Great teachers, teaching is a well-respected profession in those countries where education works, it has high expectations, that is, you set your expectation level at the international level, not comparing Arizona to California, or New Mexico, or different school districts in Arizona, you compare Arizona to Singapore, Japan, Finland, Korea, and the last thing you need is a little tension in the system. And tension in the system, you pay for performance, you have feedback loops to help struggling students, struggling teachers, if you go through the U.S. K-12 system on average, you do not have great teachers. There are some great teachers, but on average, if you look at math and science especially, you usually have a problem. You have very low expectations. And we don't pay for performance. When the bush administration put no child left behind, the most mild mannered assessment of students and of teachers, you heard the political outcry, everybody hated it. Everybody in the system hated it because it started to expose the system. So we fail on all three categories to have a great high-performing education system.

Ted Simons: Yet we'll hear from teachers, and I mean like hard-core, in the classroom teachers, they're ground level folks, and they're saying in general they don't feel appreciated. That teaching is not a prized profession. Whether it's pay, whether it's reaction from society, whether it's political attacks, whatever. They don't feel appreciated. Is that a valid concern?

Craig Barrett I think that's an absolutely valid concern. As I said to start, teachers have to be an appreciated profession in the society to make education work. And that's -- you have to attract good people into this system, and let's set the pay issue aside for a moment. A lot of people will go into teaching, it pays OK. It pays around medium level, for -- salaries in the United States. But people are not so worried about I think the pay issue, as the respect. The professionalism associated with that. You refer to teachers as nerds or eggheads or what have you, and you can't do, teach. These are the phrases we use. We have to turn that one around. We have to start attracting the best and brightest kids into teaching.

Ted Simons: Let's get to your recommendations, then, because there's four in the report. The first is to increase the talent pool by increasing science and math in K-12. It includes something like 10,000 teachers for 10 million minds. 10,000 teachers for 10,000,000 minds sounds great. Who pays for them?

Craig Barrett: It's an investment for the future. The plan basically said; let's create scholarships for college students who are proficient in math and science, to go into the teaching profession. Let's pay their scholarship; put them through school, they commit to go teach in the classroom. Science and math are really the Keystones of the 21st century, the knowledge-based industries. If you're not proficient in science math, you're kind of out of it. So we need -- not everybody is a science and math major, but you need a lot of science and math majors, and you need people competent in those subjects. The way to start is to get teachers who are competent.

Ted Simons: OK. How do you get kids who are interested in this world of instant gratification and computer stuff this, and Twitter and Facebook and the whole nine yards, how do you get to kids to be interested in science and math?

Craig Barrett: There are lots of ways. In fact there's an organization that was just created six months ago called change the equation. I happen to be chairman of that. It's a combination of 110 major U.S. corporations who have banded together to say, we're going to try to help the public sector here by promoting math and science as interesting topics, kind of out of the school environment. Think robotics competitions, think science fairs, think of interesting kids and what science and math can do not in the classroom, necessarily, but even out of the classroom. Arizona's good example of this, there's a national science fair called the science talent search that Intel sponsors. It has its -- the 40 finalists are going to Washington, DC next month. There's actually a kid from Chandler. One of the -- Arizona is in the final 40. There's another great science fair which is the international science and engineering fair. Intel sponsors that one. It's going to be here in Arizona three times between 2013 and 2019. This is an international science fair with kids from 55 or 60 different countries. 15 of the hundred of the smartest kids you'll ever find, they don't speak the same language verbally, but they speak the same language scientifically. When they come together there's so much energy in the room, it's astounding. But if you go to a first robotics competition, you can see kids getting into this, getting excited about it. Seeing what they can do with math and science. And competitive environment, or just doing it. That's what these corporations are trying to do. Change the equation is designed to help kids get interested in math and science, see what you can do as a possible profession, and then get involved in school.

Ted Simons: Another recommendation, basic research, enhance that particular commitment, if you will. Talk to us about that.

Craig Barrett: Basic research is a research that goes on in universities. Intel or Microsoft has a huge research budget. Six, $8 billion. The national science foundation, the government entity, supports basic research in our Universities, Arizona state, U of A, NAU. Other universities. We've recommended that the national science foundation be doubled over a period of five years. It's been basically flat in the area of the physical sciences and engineering for decades. So while the rest of the world has been investing, the rest of the world has been growing their universities and there are indeed capability, the United States has been somewhat stagnant in this area. And the recommendation is, we need to compete with the rest of the world. We need to support our Universities.

Ted Simons: How do you tell that to Washington when Washington right now is looking to cut wherever they can because of budget deficits, and economic concerns?

Craig Barrett: I admit it's a difficult message to sell today. But this message started to be delivered 20 or 30 years ago. And we've been consistently delivering it. I don't think the current budget crisis is the major stumbling block. I think rather it's the fact that Washington runs on a two-year cycle. If you invest in basic research, the output comes six, eight, or 10 years later if you fund a bridge, a highway, a building, it's an instantaneous gratification. Politicians are elected on instantaneous gratification. Politicians will support -- look at the stimulus program. Roads, asphalt-ready, shovel-ready. How much discussion was there, let's support basic research for the 21st century. That's the message we've been giving. That's the message rising above the gathering storm gives.

Ted Simons: Another one of your recommendations is to develop and recruit top students and scientists and engineers. How do you find them, how do you keep them?

Craig Barrett: The U.S. Universities are still the best in the world. The Stanford’s, the MiTs, the Michigan’s, Arizona State is rising in capability, U of A. They have the best engineering schools in the world. Historically, foreign students have voted with their feet and come to our universities. The problem now is, if you look at an engineering department at Stanford or MiT, the majority of the kids are not U.S. nationals. They're foreign students, still. So we attract these foreign students, very bright, we give them a great education, and then what do we do? Go home. We're not going to give you a green card. We're not going to give you a Visa. Go home. This is crazy. Taxpayer money helps educate these people. They're the best and brightest in the world. What we ought to do is something that Intel proposed about 15 years ago, is staple a green card to every diploma giving -- in the math, sciences, engineering area, to a foreign national, just if they graduate from a U.S. University, staple a green card and say, we welcome you. There's actually a bill in Congress now which is the staple act which says exactly that. But it's taken us 15 years to get it there.

Ted Simons: Do you -- the U.S. has, over the years, we have such little time, I really wanted to get into this especially -- we hear these stories, we're failing at this, we're behind the scenes on this, and we're trailing in that. And yet when it comes to innovation and creativity, America always prides itself on being the ones that find the bill gate’s and the ones that find the inventors. Are we still that country and are we going to lose a little bit of that if we become test oriented, science oriented? Where does innovation play in all this?

Craig Barrett: It really helps if you want to be innovative, to understand the problems you're trying to solve. And that's where math and science and engineering education becomes so important. You can be a Mark Zuckerberg and drop out of Harvard, or Bill gates and drop out and Microsoft. That's the exception. Most entrepreneurs have a good solid education. And what we want to do is build on what the U.S. has had historically. Great Universities, great Universities do two things. They educate people, send them off in the economy, and spin off ideas. That's the basic research. Bright people, good ideas, that's the foundation of innovation and entrepreneurship. You mix in a little venture capital money, you mix in a societal attitude which is no fear of failure, you go to Silicon valley today and you look at a new business proposal, most of the principles on the business proposal have three failures on their resumes from prior start-ups. In the U.S., there's a gold star by each one of those failures, because it's experience. You know what not to do next time. We're about the only country in the world that still treats failure that way. But other countries are learning. To give you one very simple example, Intel is the biggest high-tech venture capital country in the world. And the -- and invest more money in more high-tech venture start-ups than anybody else in the United States. We used to invest 90% of our money of our effort in the United States. Today it's only about 50% in the U.S. Where is the other 50%? China, India, so when you look at those countries, don't think they are just low labor costs, mass manufacturing. They're filled with entrepreneurs as well, who are well educated.

Ted Simons: We've only got about 30 seconds left. Very quickly, when it comes to Arizona, education, innovation, the future, are you optimistic?

Craig Barrett: There are some positive signs, but if you look at the current metrics, you would be pessimistic. Our K-12 system is way down on the ladder in the U.S. But there's some good things happening there. ASU, U of A are coming up. If I had one message to give your viewing public, it's, during this budget crisis we have, lets not chicken choke our education investment. Take the Universities, set them free, let them charge market competitive tuition, the state can still provide scholarships to poor students. But let’s set them free so that they can grow and be wealth creation centers for the state.

Ted Simons: It’s good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Craig Barrett: My pleasure.

Legislative Immunity

  |   Video
  • Attorney Dan Barr explains how far Arizona's legislative immunity law really goes in shielding legislators from arrest.
  • Dan Barr - Attorney
Category: Law   |   Keywords: legislature,

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Ted Simons: State senate majority leader Scott Bundgaard was involved this past weekend in what Phoenix police at the time called a domestic violence situation. Bundgaard's girlfriend was arrested at the scene and later released, but Bundgaard was not arrested because of a legislative immunity clause in the Arizona constitution. What does legislative immunity really mean, and how far does it go in shielding state lawmakers from arrest? Here to help answer those questions is Dan Barr, a constitutional expert from the law firm of Perkins Coie. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us. What does the constitution say about legislative immunity?

Dan Barr: Well, what the constitution says about legislative immunity is that legislators are immune for their acts on the floor of the senate or the house, they can't be sued for libel, or defamation, or anything like that. Also they can't be served with civil process. They can't be served with a civil lawsuit during the legislative session. However, there's no immunity whatsoever for criminal acts committed by a senator or a representative during the session. It just doesn't exist. What the constitution provides is that it says members of the legislature shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace. Those words, treason, felony, breach of the peace, come from English law. It is a privilege extended to members of Parliament over 350 years ago. And the English courts in a case decided by the American Revolution held that the laws of this country allow no place or employment as a sanctuary for crime. And so the privilege was held only to apply for being arrested for a civil violation. And that violation doesn't exist in this country anymore. People used to be sent to debtor's prison, for instance, could you -- so you could be arrested for having a debt. The English courts held there's no immunity for a criminal violation. And that's been held by the U.S. constitution as well in a 1908 case called Williamson versus U.S., the U.S. Supreme Court held that the privilege did not apply to prevent a U.S. Congressman who had been indicted for supporting perjury and later convicted, that he did not have a privilege from being convicted for that crime. Then later in a case involving senator Huey Long back in 1934, Huey Long had been sued for libel, the Supreme Court again held that the privilege did not apply for criminal acts, but only applied for being arrested in a civil violation.

Ted Simons: In this particular case if the lawmaker, and he says he didn't necessarily say this, the police are acting like he did, whatever that case may be, if he cannot, a lawmaker cannot invoke immunity if the police believe that a crime has taken place.

Dan Barr: Right. They have to treat him like anybody else. Scott Bundgaard, no other Arizona legislator has any immunity whatsoever from crimes.

Ted Simons: How common is this kind of -- before we get --

Dan Barr: hopefully not very.

Ted Simons: Not the crime, but forget that part; let me go back to an earlier question from what you had said. Are we confusing diplomatic immunity with this kind of legislative immunity?

>> Perhaps. Say the ambassador from Russia or the ambassador from Britain has complete diplomatic immunity in this country, as do their family members. So they can commit a crime, they could actually murder somebody and not be prosecuted in this country. They would have to -- we can deport them, but we can't prosecute. They're not subject to the law of the United States, which is that phrase in the 14th amendment that some people in this state now are reading to apply to illegal immigrants. What that clause was meant to apply to were ambassadors and their families who are not subject to the laws of the United States.

Ted Simons: But back to my other question, how common in state constitutions is this particular kind of immunity?

Dan Barr: Well, I haven't made a survey of all the constitutions, but the law -- the words come verbatim from English law to the articles of confederation, which preceded the U.S. constitution in this country, to the U.S. constitution in the article involving Congress, and then to the Arizona constitution, I imagine it's gone to other state constitutions as well.

Ted Simons: So what happens next? Can the county attorney look at this and say, I think something needs to be done?

Dan Barr: They going arrest Scott Bundgaard right now. He does have any immunity from arrest. Whether the Phoenix police choose to do so or not should be done on exactly the same criteria as they would apply to anybody else.

Ted Simons: In this particular situation the other person involved in what they originally described as domestic situation, the other person gets hauled in it sounds like a breach of the peace, it sounds like if nothing else, if you got one side, what --

Dan Barr: The police put senator Bundgaard in handcuffs for a reason. I would assume that reason was because of the violence of the situation.

Ted Simons: Last question, do you think that this particular incident will make people look again at the Arizona constitution or at least at what this provision provides? Is this something --

Dan Barr: You know, there's nothing wrong with the provision, it's just being misapplied. Scott Bundgaard convinced the police that he had immunity when he didn't. I mean, it just isn't there. So there's nothing wrong with the provision in the Arizona constitution. It's just been misapplied here.

Ted Simons: All right. Dan, good to have you on the show. Thanks for joining us.

Dan Barr: Thanks for having me.

State Audit: Classroom Spending

  |   Video
  • According to a new audit, the percentage of education spending that makes it into Arizona classrooms is the lowest it's been in ten years of tracking that data. Tara Lennon of the Arizona Auditor General's office discusses the findings.
  • Tara Lennon - Arizona Auditor General's office
Category: Education

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Ted Simons: A report released today shows that the percentage of spending that reaches Arizona classrooms is the lowest it's been in 10 years of state monitoring. The report says that the declining percentage of spending for instructional costs likely indicates that school districts are illegally diverting sales tax money designated for the classroom. Here to explain is Tara Lennon with the Arizona office of the auditor general. Good to see you here, thanks for joining us. Give us a general overview now of what this report was looking at and what the report found.

Tara Lennon: Annually we produce this report that shows statewide spending trends, and individual district spending, and it provides a little snapshot for every district in the state, what are districts spending on instruction, on administration, or other nonclassroom operations such as food service or transportation? And it helps them see how do they compare, how do districts compare with other peer districts, are they running efficiently or not efficiently, and also provides some student achievement information for each district. So the report has two parts to it. A statewide trend, summaries of spending overall, and then it provides a snapshot of every district in the state. And this complements our performance audits that we do of individual districts. So we take insights that we glean throughout the year of going into an individual district, offering recommendations on how to improve their operations, and then we summarize them in this annual report now, we have found as we've reported in prior years Arizona spends less overall than districts do nationally. And we also spend lower percentages on instruction and administration. But what's really interesting is that within Arizona, districts vary significantly in their cost and spending practices. And even among districts of similar type with similar operational challenges --

Ted Simons: Give us an example of that, can you?

Tara Lennon: Yeah, for example I can think of one rural unified small size districts that spends about $900 per pupil on administration, and another district with the exact same characteristics that spends $2400 per pupil. These kinds of wide ranges of costs, we're seeing this across all kinds of spending areas, all the main ones, plan operation, transportation, food, service, and our performance audits find a similar variety of inefficiency and efficiencies at districts.

Ted Simons: Talk to us about -- let's go both sides, efficiencies, inefficiencies. What are you finding?

Tara Lennon: It depends on which spending area you're talking about. So if you -- go to our report and look at the layout for administrative costs and administration, the efficient districts, these are ones that are monitoring their staffing levels, and they might be wearing multiple hats if they're a small district because size really matters when it comes to administrative costs. So we find districts that are able to play multiple roles if they're small or if they’re large, they're really monitoring their benefit packages, they aren't offering, for example, some of the inefficient districts they're offering pretty costly benefit packages where they're getting 15 years of health benefits after retirement, or they might have excessive conference travel. So we'll find that in administration those are just some of the examples. And these are all from performance audits. And plant operations, this is the other major noninstructional spending categories, it's not just administration, sometimes people think you're in the classroom or administration, but for plant operations this, is maintaining facilities. This is a major cost for a lot of districts, and if you're a small district and you have to spend a lot on energy, this will -- some of the more efficient districts figure out very effective conservation plans. Some of the inefficient districts, and this is one of the biggest challenges in Arizona, are operating too much space, excessive space, they might have four schools operating when all those students could possibly if it in one school. So when you're operating, maintaining that kind of excessive square footage, you're going to run into high costs.

Ted Simons: Let's get to definitions real quickly. The report said just under 56% on teacher pay and other instructional cost, down from a peak of 59%. When we talk about classroom spending, what are we talking about?

Tara Lennon: Teacher salaries, it's mostly all teacher salaries or salaries for instructional aides. To some extent it includes -- it does include instructional supplies, but the vast majority is teacher salaries.

Ted Simons: Things like coaches, things like activities, choir, these sorts of things, is that considered classroom spending?

Tara Lennon: Yes. Athletic coaches are considered, instructional spending as well.

Ted Simons: Compare if you can, and work -- help us figure it out now, classroom spending, administrative costs, what is the graph showing as far as spending for both?

Tara Lennon: Well, we've been historically the lower in both compared to national averages. We're looking at 56% of every dollar spent on instruction, and in administration, it's about 9.5%. Now that noninstruction half, if you take that 56% that whole other half of the pie, only that 10% is spent roughly on administration, then have you another 12% on plant operations, that's heating and cooling, maintaining buildings, then the other parts of that noninstruction half include providing transportation to the students, food service, student support costs, such councilors and social workers. So that's the other half.

Ted Simons: OK. Help me here, because I know we have prop 301, a sales tax, we've got the state land sales, all designed to help per pupil spending, all designed to help with an overall increased funding in the class. What happened there? It seems like the economy is playing a big factor here. How much is that factoring into the report?

Tara Lennon: This report looks at fiscal 10 funding -- spending and that ended in June 2010. They're facing additional budget cuts in this fiscal year '11 and fiscal year '12 and '13. This focus on actual spending. What did they actually spend, and that's that 56%. Back in 2000 is when voters passed proposition 301, added sales tax dollars to primarily supplement teacher salaries, supplement instructional spending. Well, what we expected to see is that they would maintain their level of effort much other monies, add to it these classroom site fund monies so we could see a higher percentage spent in the classroom. What happened is the technical term called supplanting. Districts overall shifted how they spent their other monies and used the classroom site fund monies as backfill, if you would, to maintain almost status quo. There were some increases, but not nearly what we expected. We would have expected with the classroom sites, something close to 59%. And we find ourselves at 56.

Ted Simons: Does the illegal diversion -- the idea there?

Tara Lennon: It's a violation of state law. There's a supplanting clause, when voters put in the sales tax, that they would only be using the monies to supplement, not supplant. Now, in fiscal year '10 this is the first year in the decade that we're seeing a drop in overall spending. Up to that point between 2001 and 2009 we saw about a 47% increase. But between '09 and '10, districts saw a 4% decrease in overall spending. Half of that decrease was pretty much from that sales tax revenue drying up. So districts are feeling that cut, but that cut in sales tax dollars, that explains maybe a half percent of the drop that we saw in the classroom dollar percentage between '09 '10. It doesn't explain all of it, and it doesn't explain why the classroom dollar percentage has been dropping since 2004.

Ted Simons: We've got about 15 seconds left. What do you want folks to take from this report?

Tara Lennon: To use their district pages to evaluate their own district, so every district has shown for -- whether it's operationally efficient or not, what areas it needs to improve its operations on, how it chose to spend district money, and a little bit on student achievement. So if taxpayers and parents and educators were able to use this report to make changes with how the district manages their money, then that would be great.

Ted Simons: Very good. Tara thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Tara Lennon: It's been my pleasure.