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June 3, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

AZ Giving & Leading: Kids at Hope

  |   Video
  • Kids at Hope is a Phoenix-based national organization that believes all children are capable of success and has programs to foster that success. The programs work through schools to support the success of kids. Kenna Hough, Executive Director of Training and Programs for Kids at Hope, will tell us more about the organization and its goals.
  • Kenna Hough - Training and Programs for Kids at Hope, Executive Director
Category: Giving/Leading   |   Keywords: phoenix, kids, organization, children, school,

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Ted Simons: Tonight’s look at Arizona giving and leading focuses on kids at hope. It’s an organization that emphasizes the belief that all children can be successful. Kenna Hough is the executive director of training and programs for Kids at Hope. It's good to have you here.

Kenna Hough: Thank you it's good to be here.

Ted Simons: Kids at hope. Sounds like a program that applies to organizations, schools, what?

Kenna Hough: Well, first of all, it's not a program. It's a belief system. Kids at hope is a not for profit that's designed to work with schools, youth development organizations, boys and girls clubs, create agriculture based on the belief that all children are capable of success no exceptions.

Ted Simons: Shouldn't that culture be out there anyway?

Kenna Hough: It really should. This is the thing your grandma told you ought to be in place but a lot of times bureaucracy gets in the way of culture and so kids at hope created a strategic cultural framework that we introduce through training and work with adults to put the emphasis back where it should be on the culture.

Ted Simons: Indeed, a belief system supported by a cultural strategy through workshops, seminars, these sorts of things?

Kenna Hough: Exactly, workshops, seminars, not to be redundant. Professional development. We work with the adults who work with kids.

Ted Simons: So if I go to a workshop or a seminar or class, what do I learn? I think all kids should succeed, too, but where's the disconnect?

Kenna Hough: The disconnect is in what is it kids need to be successful? It was created from a research study done with ASU, trying to answer a simple question, why do some kids succeed while others fail? Three things need to be in place. We call them universal truths. They're universally applied to all children. So you would learn about those three universal truths, children need to be surrounded by adults who believe they can succeed, which does sound like a no brainer but it can be hard to put into practice. All children, no exceptions, regardless of background, who your mama is or isn't, etc. Then you would learn about what we call universal truth number two, which is that kids need meaningful sustainable connections with caring adults and we define what those relationships look like. And finally, you would learn about the importance of kids being able to articulate their future, a concept we call mental time travel, the ability to visit your future mentally, return to the present and prepare for that future. Kind of visualization if you will.

Ted Simons: That all makes sense. The idea of connecting, though, with a parent that cares and -- or an adult. What happens if the parents are just not -- they're out to lunch and you're the teacher and you want to make that connection. How do you do that?

Kenna Hough: It's actually quite simple. We believe there are four different types of relationships kids need to have and one is having a strong anchor parent and not all kids have that but they also need to be surrounded by adults who care, teacher, a baseball coach. They also need adults who have high expectations, which means that they believe in that child oftentimes more than the child believes in themselves. And they also need to be surrounded by adults who give them opportunities to succeed. You know it might be the neighbor, it might be grandma, a teacher, a clergyman. We all play that role.

Ted Simons: What about the kid that has some sort of behavioral problem, the teacher, we'll keep it in the classroom here. The teacher connects with the kid, can even envision a future and help the kid envision that future but the kid lashes out, very difficult. We all know about these kinds of kids in class. What do you do with that little person?

Kenna Hough: We don't address those specific kinds of issues like a child who has specific behavioral issues. But what we do address is helping the adults learn to be treasure hunters, which means that adult is going to continue to seek the solution for that child, rather than throwing their hands up in the air and saying I'm done, I've given it all I can give. They're going to continue to look and if they're not the person to make a difference in that child's life, they're going to go out and find somebody who can and who can help them address what those issues are.

Ted Simons: It sounds like don't give up.

Kenna Hough: Exactly.

Ted Simons: Is a major factor here.

Kenna Hough: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Is there room, time enough for hope in a classroom? We'll keep it in the classroom here, when there's so much emphasis on testing, on getting core studies. People are complaining there's not time for athletics and recess, what about just simple hope?

Kenna Hough: There has to be time for hope because those other things aren't going to happen without hope being there. You know there's a big emphasis right now on common core standards and there should be. But we also have to look at what we now call common care standards. Kids aren't going to learn what you need them to learn if they're not connected to you. And so that time has to be made and we're not talking about hours and hours spent making connections with kids.

Ted Simons: Last question, a national organization based here in Phoenix. What kind of response are you getting?

Kenna Hough: We're getting a tremendous response. Kids at hope actually started in 2000. And here we are in 2013 and we continue to grow exponentially. We're closing in on the halfway mark as far as states across the U.S. that we're involved with and we're also involved in the entire province of Alberta, Canada. We're continuing to grow and grow all the time. It's very exciting.

Ted Simons: It sure is and it's a good story and it's good to have you on the program. Thank you so much for joining us.

Kenna Hough: Thank you.

AZ Hospital Compare

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Department of Health Services is launching AZ Hospital Compare, an online searchable database to help consumers make educated decisions about their healthcare. The new website will allow patients and their families to explore the care, costs and charges of Arizona’s licensed hospitals. Donna Courtney of the department of health services will talk about the system.
  • Donna Courtney - Arizona Department of Health Services
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: hospital, care, arizona, patients, health,

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Ted Simons: The state department of health services today launched AZ hospital compare. It’s an online, searchable database designed to help consumers make educated health care decisions. Here to tell us more is Donna Courtney, data manager for the department of health services. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Donna Courtney: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Give me a better definition of az hospital compare.

Donna Courtney: Well, this is a actual that was developed at the department of health services. It's a website built for the department of health services we use as a part of our partnership with the federal government, the agency for healthcare research and quality. The health department has been collecting data from all Arizona hospitals for many years. There's a state law that requires it. But until now, we have not had a good way to turn all of that data we collected into information that's usable to the average health consumer and that's part of what az hospital compare is all about.

Ted Simons: How long has that data been collected?

Donna Courtney: The statute was written in the late 80's and the collection has been going on since that time.

Ted Simons: Helping folks make educated healthcare choices. How are they educated? It's just basically you go online and go from there?

Donna Courtney: There are a number of ways that you can query the database. There's an area for hospital quality. There are various national quality indicators that look at things like cesarean sections or hospital infections, you can compare those rates of occurrences from one hospital to the next. Another thing that can be helpful to consumers is that we know hospitals that perform a given procedure many times generally do better and have better outcomes than a hospital that doesn't do that procedure very much. So, for example, if I was going to have a knee replacement done, I would want to see who does the most knee replacements. So this website would allow consumers to do that.

Ted Simons: It seems like there's four basic categories here, at least when I went to the website. The first one was and this was I don't know how you're quantifying this, care costs charges. Let's -- the care, we can move on. The costs and the charges. How in the world do you get a handle on that?

Donna Courtney: Well, partially from the data that we collect and partially from the tools that are built into the software tool that we use to build the website. The data that we collect from every hospital, the patient records contain a total charge, the total charges incurred by that patient for that visit. It doesn't mean that's what the hospital got reimbursed for the care but that's their gross charges for that visit. Now, the agency for healthcare research and quality, because they are a federal agency and they work closely with health and human services, they have access to all of the financial reporting that Medicare certified facilities are required to report to the federal government. So they took that financial information and created hospital-specific cost to charge ratios. It's basically a methodology by which you have this algorithm, you apply it to the total charges and you get an estimated cost. So you have the total gross charges and you have an estimate based on the hospital's own financial reporting to the federal government of what that cost, the care actually costs to provide.

Ted Simons: So the idea of you go in and you're expecting to pay "X" and "Y" but, all of a sudden, "Z" happens and something else happens over here, that can be worked out through this equation?

Donna Courtney: Well, the idea of the cost to charge ratio is to give the consumers, especially the uninsured consumer some idea of what they might be charged for their care and more importantly what it's actually costing the hospital to provide that care. It arms them with information so that they can go to the hospital and say I'm having a knee replacement, I would like to have it here. I see your average charges are $20,000 but I see if only costs you $5,000 to do it so I would like to negotiate with you because I'm not insured. I want to negotiate for this procedure.

Ted Simons: And good luck plugging complications into that. We can forget about that one right now right?

Donna Courtney: There actually is some reporting within the website where you can look at, for example, there are normal newborns, a baby with no complications and there are areas you can look at babies with complications. Same thing with most conditions. There are with and without complications.

Ted Simons: We talked about the hospital quality ratings. There's another rubric here, maps of avoidable hospital stays. What is that?

Donna Courtney: That is a very nifty part of the tool. You can basically go in and look at various conditions. Basically hospitalizations that shouldn't happen. For example, being hospitalized for asthma. A person has asthma and their care is being properly managed, they should never end up in the hospital. That's a very interesting section because you can look at hospitalizations for asthma and then look at the cost and estimates of how much money could be saved if we reduced those hospitalizations by any percentage.

Ted Simons: That is different than comparing hospital to hospital?

Donna Courtney: Correct, that's a different module within the website.

Ted Simons: You're educating the consumer in a different way.

Donna Courtney: Yes.

Ted Simons: Last one, county rates of hospital use.

Donna Courtney: That is another area where you can look and see, given conditions by county in the state of Arizona, for example, if you look -- Maricopa County has a high rate of hospitalizations for dehydration. If you look up north, that's where you might see bubonic plague, that's an issue up north.

Ted Simons: This information sounds like it would be very educational. Why now?

Donna Courtney: Well, the tool, this tool that we used began being developed at the federal level around and there were some beta phases that they went through and the tool is free, available to states. So it's just a matter of having the tool available. The price is right. It's free to state partners and we're a partner in that project so it costs the taxpayers of Arizona $ for the health department to build this website.

Ted Simons: And real quickly the website again --

Donna Courtney: Az hospital compare.

Ted Simons: And just go have a --

Donna Courtney: Go poke at it. [ Laughter ]

Ted Simons: Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Donna Courtney: Thank you for having me.

Sales Tax End/Education

  |   Video
  • A one-cent state sales tax ended at the end of May. Most of the money from the tax went to education. Chuck Essigs, Director of Governmental Relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials, will talk about the impact of the end of the sales tax on education.
  • Chuck Essigs - Governmental Relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officals, Director
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: tax, arizona, education, money, state,

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Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. The state’s three-year, one-cent sales tax expired at the end of May. Two thirds of the nearly $3 billion raised by the tax went to fund public education, but what happens to that funding now that the tax has gone away? Joining us is Chuck Essigs, director of governmental relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials. Good to see you again, thanks for joining us.

Chuck Essigs: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: How much did this tax impact education funding?

Chuck Essigs: It's probably what it prevented from happening. Because there were some cuts to schools but without that temporary 1 cent sales tax, there would have been almost another $3 billion that would have been cut out of state government and I don't know what the state would have done. I've been doing this thing for a long time and I've never seen the magnitude of the impact both on the state budget because of the downturn in the economy but even with that 1 cent sales tax the impact on schools.

Ted Simons: So without the tax, teachers lost?

Chuck Essigs: You would have had to see a lot more cuts in programs, more reductions in services. I just don't know in many cases schools would have done.

Ted Simons: What kinds of programs?

Chuck Essigs: Arts, music, all those things that are outside the basic classroom on a day-to-day basis. Some of the special programs would have been reduced. Some of the after-school programs, it's hard to envision what would have had to happen without that additional resource.

Ted Simons: Education leaders, as well, would they have been lost?

Chuck Essigs: They've already lost a lot of them like the Scottsdale school district has cut a number of their administrators. Because even with that sales tax being there, there's probably over the last three years been about a $600,$700 million reduction in school funding. In addition, there would have been a greater cut, had the sales tax not been there.

Ted Simons: $1.8 billion to education sound about right?

Chuck Essigs: That sounds about right. It went into the general fund, I thought Dennis Hoffman did a good job of explaining that and I think he had the same response, without that, it's hard to believe how the state would have survived.

Ted Simons: So with that in mind, taxes now gone. What happens next?

Chuck Essigs: The legislature has put aside a number of dollars into the rainy day fund, into carryover moneys to kind of cushion that blow. They were lucky -- part of their planning was that the economy would have recovered over that period of time. But also people need to remember there's about another $600 million of cuts to school that have not been restored and sometime over the next few years, the state needs to look at that. Capital funding, for example, is only at 40% of what it was 14 or 15 years ago and it wasn't adequate or years ago. I hope people don't just think we're done. They need to now start looking, how do you restore a lot of those cuts?

Ted Simons: Even without the restoration, the improved economy and what you're seeing so far from budget proposals does bode well?

Chuck Essigs: It's a start in the right direction. The state is talking about funding inflation for the first time in many years, which would be $80 million, which is a move in the right direction.

Ted Simons: They're talking about it because the Arizona supreme court is looking at this right now and basically --

Chuck Essigs: Regardless of their motives, it's a good thing.

Ted Simons: Yes but even the --

Chuck Essigs: When it was running -- it was a little bit less than 2% but now that it's running about 1.8%, $80 million. Some of the lesser years, might have been $60,$ 65 million.

Ted Simons: And that's a major factor there.

Chuck Essigs: It's down about five and a half to 6% was lost over that period of time.

Ted Simons: If U.S. census numbers -- apparently, everyone's got their own figures and their own numbers but as far as census numbers are concerned, for education spending, we've got Oklahoma, you've got Idaho, you've got Utah, and then you've got Arizona. What's going on here?

Chuck Essigs: That's not new. It's been that way for many years. Sometimes we've been a little bit lower. I think a better way of looking at it, there's other states that are spending more than what we are. We're very near the bottom. Sometimes, we spend , sometimes . We spend about 70% per pupil of what the national average is and it's hard to compete.

Ted Simons: And I know the critics will say more money does not necessarily mean better results. How do you work that equation when so many of the states that do spend a lot on education do get more results.

Chuck Essigs: Just spending more money doesn't make for better schools but you need resources to provide some of the services. I think a lot of people don't understand how schools operate today. And I think a good analogy is Coca-Cola, for example, has -- I was amazed, 3,500 products across the world that they sell. To be competitive. Schools to be competitive have online programs, they have special services for gifted, special services for disabled students, they have after-school programs, summer school programs. You have to provide services for students, especially for those who are more challenged and have trouble catching up and that takes resources.

Ted Simons: Did the fact that the state went through these tough economic times, that so much was cut, were new ideas forged in these bad times? Was this an opportunity to say hey, we can do more with less, let's give it a try?

Chuck Essigs: I think it was more of an opportunity for districts to stay competitive, they had to do some things, that they really didn't necessarily have extra resources to do. Online learning is a big factor in this program that a lot of students now are taking those programs online and for districts to stay competitive, they had to start up those programs. They're not inexpensive to start up. And districts -- so I would phrase it a little bit differently. It's not well these are tough times so we learn to do things better. These are tough times but there's things we have to do regardless to stay competitive. Students only get one shot at 3rd grade so you have to do whatever they need to do as best you can with whatever resources you have.

Ted Simons: Last question. Will 3rd graders in the future get a better shot?

Chuck Essigs: The one thing the legislature did was provide a little additional money for school districts to help students in 3rd grade as they passed this move on with reading. I think you'll see improvements over that period of time but it's at the cost of other programs that districts may have to stop.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Chuck Essigs: I'm glad to be here, thank you.