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March 19, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Focus on Sustainability: Mesa Green Barrel Program

  |   Video
  • It’s time for spring yard work, and the city of Mesa has started a program to help residents dispose of yard waste. Mesa is the only city in Arizona that will offer a curbside barrel program for the weekly collection of green yard waste. The waste will be converted into mulch and compost. Mariano Reyes from the city of Mesa will discuss the program.
  • Mariano Reyes - City of Mesa
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: mesa, sustainability, green, yard waste, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight we look at Mesa's efforts to turn yard wastes from neighborhood into compost and MULCH. Here to tell us more about the Green barrel program is Mariano Reyes with the city of Mesa.

Mariano Reyes: Glad to be here.

Ted Simons: The Green barrel program. Give us an overview

Mariano Reyes: It's an opportunity for residents instead of sending their Green waste material to the landfill they can have it composted and used for MULCH for gardening purposes. We're primarily talking leaves, grass, small branches.

Ted Simons: What kind of yard waste are we talking about?

Mariano Reyes: Your normal Green yard waste you would generate while doing your normal landscaping activities.

Ted Simons: like this poor son of a gun mowing his lawn, she's trimming the hedge. Is this a special barrel or just for yard waste?

Mariano Reyes: It's specifically for yard waste. That would be the only type of material that would go into the container, and it goes in there unbagged. That's to assist in the composting process.

Ted Simons: no bag and tie.

Mariano Reyes: no bag and tie. If you're putting your material in the black trash barrel you would have to bag and tie it, but for the Green barrel because of the way they process it, the bags would interfere with the decompositions of the material. There's no need for the bag.

Ted Simons: We saw it there put on the street, alleys as well.

Mariano Reyes: In Mesa we don’t have alley collection. Everything is curb side. Basically once a week along with the blue recycle barrels.

Ted Simons: same day?

Mariano Reyes: Correct. If you have a Green barrel you put both out on the same day before. Our drivers will service the container and you're good to go.

Ted Simons: Is the same driver coming for both barrels?

Mariano Reyes: its two different trucks. One truck is gathering all the recycles, the other is Green waste container. We do have residents that will contact us and say, I saw the driver come down. He got one barrel but missed the other one. We have to remind them there are two separate vehicles.

Ted Simons: this is once a week all year long?

Mariano Reyes: Correct. It's available year round. It's once a week. For residents they mow their lawn, they have their waste picked up.

Ted Simons: How much do residents pay for this?

Mariano Reyes: This service is an additional $5.51 per month. Very reasonable cost. If they were going to -- need an additional black trash barrel they have to pay $11 a month, so it's actually half the cost. There's some financial incentive.

Ted Simons: This is, what, $5.51 a month but you have to keep the service for six months?

Mariano Reyes: Correct.

Ted Simons: why is that?

Mariano Reyes: The reason we ask them to keep the barrel, obviously we have to run our routes. If we have to keep altering routes based on the amount of containers out there it wouldn't make us as efficient. We ask they keep them a minimum of six months. Here in Arizona march through October prime season for landscaping needs. So serves the purpose.

Ted Simons: it's in the barrel y. it gets thrown into the truck. Where does it go?

Mariano Reyes: Once it's collected from the curb our trucks will take it over to Salt River landfill. They have a special area on the site, a Green waste processing facility. Our trucks dump the material there and that begins the process where they do the composting.

Ted Simons: the idea I read it extends the life of the landfill. What's that all about?

Mariano Reyes: Well, where normally if we were servicing the material with the regular trash material, any of those things would go to the landfill and get buried. Now that would take up valuable space that could be used for material that could not be recycled, whether couldn't go in the blue or the Green barrel. We're just using the landfill for material that cannot be diverted in any other manner.

Ted Simons: participation rate. What are you seeing there?

Mariano Reyes: The program has been available since . About one-third of the city participates in the Green barrel program, is equivalent to about 36,000 households out there that have a Green barrel on their property and are using it.

Ted Simons: Since if you have known about it that long and haven't done it you probably decided you do or don't want it.

Mariano Reyes: Correct.

Ted Simons: was it mottled after anything else?

Mariano Reyes: We are the only city in the state of Arizona that offers this program. It's a point of pride. We're really excited that we can talk about our Green barrel program. Our residents really embraced program. They like T. as far as participation goes, it makes sense for some residents if they have a lot of Green waste being generated on their property. Others with more desert landscaping may not have such a need for it.

Ted Simons: Congratulations and continued success.

Mariano Reyes: Thank you.

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Performance Based Education Funding

  |   Video
  • A bill has been introduced that would give high performing or improving schools more money. Dale Frost, Governor Brewer’s Education Policy Advisor, and Dr. David Garcia, Associate Professor of Education at Arizona State University, discuss the pros and cons of the idea.
  • Dale Frost - Education Policy Advisor, Governor Brewer’s Office
  • Dr. David Garcia - Associate Professor of Education, Arizona State University
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, funding, legislation, law, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Governor Brewer pushing for legislation tying education funding to test scores and other school performance measures. Proponents see it as motivation for schools to improve. Critics say it could hurt already struggling districts. Here to speak in favor of the bill is Dale frost, the governor's advisor for education policy, and against the measure is Dr. David Garcia, social professor at ASU's Mary Lou Fulton teachers college.

Dale Frost: we want to get to about 5% of funding over five years. Two-thirds new money, one-third from existing school funding. It would be based on what's called the A through F scale. Schools in districts get a grade based on how well they help students to learn English and math and improve graduation rates and those things and how many are passing the proficiency rates. It's basically growth and proficiency, and so yes, that would be at the district level. It's not teacher pay. It's not school based funding. It's district based funding.

Ted Simons: this performance, the metrics and matrix, tied to tests mostly?

Dale Frost: Primarily tied to aims but there's also points that districts will get if they help English language learners to reclassify and learn English. If you reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates.

Ted Simons: this make sense to you?

Dr. David Garcia: The problem is it's almost exclusively test scores. Even reclassifying ELO students is according to a test. The entire letter grade system is based off making sure students do well on tests. I think you had it right when you opened up, most folks will call it achievement. What it is is making sure a student answers enough multiple choice questions right and incentivizing districts to teach to that test.

Ted Simons: is that wrong?

Dr. David Garcia: If you want to get students ready for life, absolutely. What we want to do is move to an education system where we focus not on what students know. It's easy to know something. The real innovative part, where states want to excel, we need to move to what students can do. There requires out comes well beyond a test score.

Ted Simons: how do you respond to the idea? We've heard this since aims started and beforehand that all this does is make for good test takers?

Dale Frost: That's partially true. If you are good at taking the test you'll do better on aims, our state assessment. There are two things to consider. One is that studies have shown again and again if you do well on a state assessment that you have higher out comes for income, graduation rates are up, you do better in college, and these kinds of things. We have to measure schools. So even though it's easy to vilify the test, there have been a lot of benefits. Research has shown that it has increased student achievement outcomes, not to the extent that we want. The other piece that's important is we're moving aims is going away in two years and we're moving to a better test that will be just like David was saying, better measures, critical thinking and some of those skills rather than rote memorization.

Ted Simons: with common core on the way, does this kind of performance based funding make better sense with a system like common core?

Dale Frost: I think that speaking as a parent if we want to get our students ready to be successful in life we want to get them to will the point where they can do something. There are no multiple choices in life. The research that Dale mentions, achievement is another test. The way we measure how things are doing on a test is look at another test at the end of the day.

Ted Simons: but can it be argued it's not perfect, you're making for better test takers, maybe more successful in life, maybe not, but it seems to skew in that direction. Not perfect but better.

Dr. David Garcia: I'll give you a good example. If we really want to be innovative in Arizona and we don't want teachers to teach to the test, let's have a performance system that's focused on something other than tests. There would be an innovative approach to thinking about performance based funding if we all recognize the test is not perfect, there are better ways, we should try to figure out what they are.

Ted Simons: Does that make sense to you? Can there be different ways to assess a student or school's improvement?

Dale Frost: Certainly can. This proposal is developed with the task force under the Arizona ready council and we had that conversation. Should we amend the A through F system to include more measures? The school community at that time basically said we're going to be moving to a better assessment. Let's Mott move the goal posts right now. That's already happening somewhat. We're awaiting graduation rates more because of our No Child Left Behind waiver. That's already happened.

Ted Simons: critics will say what you're doing now is rewarding schools that are already succeeding and the schools that are knot doing well should be a focus as opposed to being threatened with not receiving as much funding as they otherwise would have. How do you respond to that?

Dale Frost: The first part is to keep a sense of perspective. Next year any school worst case scenario will have 99.7% of their funding. It's only one-third of 1% at risk. More new dollars and the winners win more than the losers lose, there's a scenario every district improves a small amount, every district would get more money under this proposal. It's more about competing against yourself than your neighbors.

Ted Simons: Is that how you see that, competing against yourselves?

Dr. David Garcia: Well, that's not how testing works. Especially in these systems you're always -- I can improve but if you improve more I can't catch up to you. Some of this is the governor's office mentions this is a game changer. At the ends of the day it's like Dale said less than a percent of money we're talking about here, and it also one thing that will happen with this is wealthier districts will get more money. Because the underlying A through F grade system is heavily skewed toward a district primary being a wealthier district. In many ways what this is doing is reinforcing the system we already have instead of doing something groundbreaking to change it in future.

Ted Simons: How do you respond to that? That said a lot.

Dale Frost: Well, the notion that this takes from poor districts and gives to wealthier districts is not true according to our analysis. A, we can't predict the future. But when you look the a all districts and compare it to poverty there's no significant correlation between the out coming of performance funding and poverty. That's because of the improvement side. We heavily weight improvement. If you get three to four time more money if you're a D district than an A district for the same improvement.

Ted Simons: if you start at a lower level, like job growth is a negative integer, almost any job growth looks monumental, the same could happen with improving schools?

Dr. David Garcia: Part of it is looking at data from to 11 to 12. Wealthiest districts in the first year would receive $ new money per student. Our most impoverished districts would receive 18$. Partly because the system does not weigh out in the way that I think it was intended. It does forth give that much benefit to improvement.

Ted Simons: some say poor school districts, lower achieving school districts; they are there not for lack of trying. They are just maybe nothing they can do to improve to the point where they can get an equal or at least fair amount of this money. Is that a valid criticism?

Dale Frost: We don't think so. Let me use an example. Hartford Encinas was the only D-school within Chandler unified school district. Chandler put a dynamic new principal in. That elementary school district had 98% of their students in poverty. That principal rallied her teachers together, they got parents on board, they looked at their school day and found reprioritized minutes toward math and reading skills. In one year that poor school went from a D to an A school. To say that poor schools can't improve, we don't think that's true. We're not saying they are not working hard but there are policies often in failing schools that are counterproductive to students.

Ted Simons: regardless of the situation improvement can be had.

Dr. David Garcia: Absolutely but remember this is a district level measure, not a school level measure. You can expect Chandler to move less than a point. The largest districts moved less than a point because they are so big. That's going to be a real challenge. This is a district level measure, not a school level measure.

Ted Simons: we have to stop it there. Great discusson. Thanks for joining us.

Republican Hispanic Voter Outreach

  |   Video
  • The National Republican Party announced a plan yesterday to spend $10 million to reach out to Hispanics voters and other demographics. Arizona State University Pollster Dr. Bruce Merrill will talk about the voter outreach efforts by the Republican party.
  • Dr. Bruce Merrill - Pollster, Arizona State University
Category: Community   |   Keywords: merrill, pollster, voter outreach, vote, voting, ASU, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The national Republican party yesterday unveiled a 10$ million plan to go after the Hispanic vote and other demographics that went against the GOP in the last election. Here to talk about the effort is ASU pollster Dr. Bruce Merrill. it's a pleasure to have you here. $10 million outreach effort. What's going on here?

Dr. Bruce Merrill: Well, Ted, when you are the Republican party you cannot give away 75% of the people of color in this country and compete at a mat level. So the Republicans are really divided within their own party. Rush Limbaugh said today the problem really wasn't that the Republicans need to be more concerned about the moderates in this country and about social programs, what they need to do is become even more conservative in the future. So you have this division in the Republican party as to what needs to be done. That doesn't bode well for the party itself.

Ted Simons: when you look at national numbers, though, it would seem relatively clear Rush Limbaugh notwithstanding that when you look nationally further to the right is not where most folks want for go.

Dr. Bruce Merrill: It's not except that that's where the action happens in the primary system. One of the real dilemmas here is that there's a difference between the general election, you're absolutely right, the higher the turnout. It's like a bell curve, the more you get people in the middle. The extremists on the right and the left become smaller proportions as turnout increases. But the problem as you saw with Romney is that for a Republican to get the nomination you only have 25 or 30% of the Republicans voting they have to move so far to the right that they are out of the mainstream of American politics.

Ted Simons: this particular effort by the Republican party, this is part of a broader report trying to expand the base and find ways to win after two successive losses to President Obama. One thing mentioned was fewer primaries, fewer candidates running so they can focus the message. Make sense?

Dr. Bruce Merrill: Well, it makes sense unless a whole bunch of people want to run. That always happens here in Arizona, of course. The parties get in trouble when they try to say we're going to favor one candidate over another. So I do think, Ted, that really there's in my opinion a lack of understanding among the Republicans as to what the problem is. The problem isn't people of color. It's not the color of your skin. It's not the fact that you're a minority. It's the fact that such a large proportion of people in America are poor. There are many poor white people. It's the Republicans think that they are going to fix this problem with band aids, by that get more Hispanic candidates like Marco Rubio or whatever, what they should be focusing on is programs that help people that don't have a lot of money to participate in the American system and to get part of the pie.

Ted Simons: But you will hear from Republicans, we hear from Republicans on this program all the time, that's exactly what they are doing. Business tax cuts, personal income tax cuts, getting government regulations out of the way. This frees up business to hire folks and commit steams forward.

Dr. Bruce Merrill: that's all great. In fact one of the interesting things to me is you would think that a community the Hispanic community is almost a natural Republican constituency at least in the past. There social conservatives. The Republicans tend to be social conservatives. They are hard working people that want to get ahead. As you've said the Republicans say, we want to help people get ahead, but the problem is that the Republican party, for instance they are now saying let's extend the retirement age from 65 to 66, maybe 67 . Well, that doesn't hurt people that have money. But what if you have been a working person out in the sun your whole life and you're beat up and tired and you Don have a lot of money? That's a pretty tough thing. So my point is that I think if you go back and look, after the civil war when the Republicans freed the slaves, african-americans were 100% virtually Republican for years until the great depression. Then when the great depression came, what happened is the Democrats came out with programs that helped poor people. So I think what the Republicans don't really understand here is this isn't going to be a one-election fix or a ten-year election fix. The Republicans need to take a longer view. This could take several generations before they convince people that are lower socioeconomic people that the party really cares about them.

Ted Simons: what about an issue like immigration reform? How much movement are you seeing from the Republican party on that?

Dr. Bruce Merrill: Well, I think that's a very important one. It's very interesting and makes my point from earlier. If you really look at Mccain's program for illegal immigration reform eight years ago it's really where we're headed now. The Republicans need to do that. The interesting thing with the Republican party again, though, Ted, is the party itself is divided on even that issue in terms of the tea party, the Russell Pearce’s in Arizona, that are saying that's amnesty. We can't go out and give these people a path to citizenship. So one of the real problems that I see for the Republican Party is they don't have their act together within the party. They have to get their act together in the party before they can go out and sell a brand to the public.

Ted Simons: It's interesting you mention selling a brand. Throughout all this I'm curious whether or not Republican rank and file see these changes as the right things to do or the political necessities. If you are part of the Latino community do you see that as political expediency or a true change of heart?

Dr. Bruce Merrill: That's part of the problem. The Republicans are going to have to convince minorities they can be trusted, that they really do have the interests of people at heart. I think the best way for them to do that is with education reform. Always in America the path to getting ahead in America is doing more than your parents did. Getting a better education. You can't -- this goes back to Romney's statement about the 47% that are on the public Dole. America is almost on the verge of becoming two Americas. The report did mention this. The problem with the Republican Party, too old, too white, too wealthy. Then you've got this other 50% that don't even pay taxes in America because they are too poor to pay taxes. You're almost like we're evolving towards two Americas. A wealthy upper middle class white America and a lower socioeconomic America. The needs of those two populations are often quite different.

Ted Simons: Before we let you go, Republicans obviously trying to figure this out. It's interesting that on the democratic side we're not seeing much infighting at all.

Dr. Bruce Merrill: political parties ebb and flow. There's great danger in my opinion for the Democratic Party because it's the Democratic Party gets too big and too successful they will divide into two factions like the Republicans and they are in trouble.

Ted Simons: we'll have you back on. Democratic infighting. What's going on?

Dr. Bruce Merrill: We'll do it.

Ted Simons: Thank you.

Dr. Bruce Merrill: you bet, Ted.