Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 23, 2014


Host: Ted Simons

Downtown Phoenix Warehouses

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  • The Phoenix warehouse district is being seen as the new frontier for the city's downtown expansion in coming decades. While most of the warehouses are run down and boarded up, one man is looking to rescue as many buildings as possible. We take a look at his mission.
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, downtown, phoenix, warehouses, mission, buildings, expansion,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Phoenix warehouse district is considered the next frontier for downtown expansion. A number of the warehouses south of Chase Field and U.S. airways center are run down and boarded up. But one man is looking to rescue as many of those buildings as possible. Producer Daniel Santa Cruz and photographer Juan Magana have more on this mission to "Save Phoenix from itself."

Michael Levine: Most of the developers in this town are hedging their bet. They want to make their money first and if the project is successful, it's successful. Sometimes I feel like I'm the thumb in the dike keeping everything back. Because these buildings need to survive, they need to be successful for anyone to really come down here. Otherwise they could be anywhere. Without these buildings, to come visit and to populate and to utilize, they're just it's like visiting a postcard, looking at a couple of pictures. The entire ecosystem, keeping the best of ASU, keeping the best of technology at U of A, those people and those students and that future needs to stay in the district. You could feel the texture. We could feel and see, you know, the material emanation of all of that blood, sweat, and tears and historic equity. I'm fighting tooth and nail, no matter how ugly it is, to keep it from being demolished. We live in a 3D world. We don't live in a 2D Facebook. People want places. They want to congregate. They want to meet and the better the architecture and the more interesting the architecture, the more it stimulates ideas. All those cliches, you have to know your past and you have to know your future. Arizona is always talking about trying to be like Denver or trying to be like San Diego. Phoenix and Arizona needs to be Phoenix and Arizona. And be really prideful of that. And leverage that.

Ted Simons: Levine vows to use all of his resources to make sure the buildings stay intact for generations to come. Thursday on "Arizona Horizon," we'll have more on the DPS report on child protective services. And we'll get the latest in science news in our monthly discussion with ASU physicist Lawrence Krauss. I can tell you right now he will talk about exoplanet and exoskeletons and quarks. And as part as the DPS report on CPS. Charles Flanagan and the investigation into CPS, he will be our guest tomorrow night. Again, that's tomorrow evening, 5:30 and 10 right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Legislative Update

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  • Jim Small from the Arizona Capitol Times will give us the latest news from the State Capitol in our weekly political update.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislature, legislative, political, update, state capitol,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The Department of Public safety today released its administrative review of CPS and the agency's actions in not investigating 6,600 reports of child abuse. For more on that and other political news, we welcome Jim Small of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Jim, good to have you. We will have Charles Flanagan on tomorrow night. We will get pretty much into detail and depth on this but in overview what happened today?

Jim Small: Basically, this was the result of about a five-month investigation ordered back in the fall when the 6,600 cases came to light. The Governor's office said, we need an investigation. Ordered this independent investigation by DPS. Essentially what they came out with was a report that was pretty damning that showed kind of how, what led to this, to all these cases not being investigated, and what the response was within the division at CPS and also beyond that. But up the ladder, up the food chain into the administration of the Department of Economic security and trying to determine what sort of culpability various employees and supervisors had along the way.

Ted Simons: It sounds like a small group of supervisors were at fault. Five supervisors fired a top DES administer but Clarence Carter, head of DES, not fired.

Jim Small: Right, not fired. The six who were fired were put on administrative leave basically right when this whole thing happened back in the fall.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Jim Small: There was, I think, some expectation for a lot of people that, you know, these were the people that were singled out, put on leave. That probably doesn't bode well for them. Once this report comes out and that's what happened. Basically the report concluded that Clarence Carter, even though he was the head of the agency, that he was unaware of what was going on. There were a couple attempts to kind of rope him into the process, but meetings that just never happened, things like that.

Ted Simons: Again with that in mind Charles Flanagan will be on the show tomorrow with much on the report. However, as far at legislative activity is concerned, special session on a CPS success senior no doubt in the works. When could this happen? What could possibly happen?

Jim Small: I guess it company conceivably happen next week or the week after. There's a working group that the Governor's office has kind of corralled of folks involved, legislators, folks involved in the CPS arena, Charles Flanagan is involved in it and neighbor of other stakeholders in the process. And they have been meeting for a couple months to try to figure out what sort of legislation needs to be passed and that it has the tools it needs and doesn't fall into the same traps and doesn't, we don't end up right back in the same place a year or two down the line. And so they have said a May 1 deadline of figuring out this legislation. We are quickly coming up on that. All expectations are that they will hit that deadline and shortly after that I would imagine we will see a special session called.

Ted Simons: Much fussing and fighting expected in this special session? Or is everyone pretty much on the same ship?

Jim Small: Remains to be seen right now. The language hasn't been released publicly. There's some drafts that have been leaked out along the way. But the language hasn't really been presented to the 90 legislators so we don't know yet what exactly their reception is going to be. One of the things they did do in the process was they pulled in people not just, you know, folks who work in the child welfare arena, even at the Legislature who deal with that frequently them also brought in some people, folks like representative Eddie Farnsworth who has been critical of CPS, but also is somebody who comes from kind of the more conservative wing of the Republican caucus, to try to get his input and get him involved in the process. So that way they are addressing concerns maybe before they arise after legislation has been drafted.

Ted Simons: We should know a taping time now, the Legislature is still in session but you think a sine die could be later tonight, tomorrow?

Jim Small: All indications are they are going to work into the night and with the goal trying to get done. I think there's a big desire to wrap this up. There's not a whole lot of bills that are still alive. Obviously any time you end the session it means some people's bills and priorities aren't going to be addressed. That's kind of the reality and it looks like they are moving down that road and I think smart money says they will be done probably before the sun comes up on Thursday.

Ted Simons: All right. Before you go, I know that the, we had a court ruling today that the -- not today, yesterday -- regarding lawmakers', and the Medicaid expansion from last year challenged by Republican lawmakers, court says you got standing.

Jim Small: Trial court threw it out and said these lawmakers don't have standing, the Legislature is able to determine by a simple majority whether it needs to follow this constitutional mandate for a super majority. The appellate court reversed that and said, no, just because a simple majority doesn't deem that it's necessary doesn't mean that it's not necessarily, you know, applicable. So we will send this back to the trial court. These folks get to have their day in court. They ought to have their day in court. The appellate court didn't say, yes, the Legislature was wrong or, no, they didn't weigh in on the merits. Just merely on this issue of whether these Republican lawmakers could sue. Of course, it's maybe destined for the trial court right now but the Governor's office said they are planning on appealing to the Supreme Court to try to get the Supreme Court to kill the case.

Ted Simons: And again the idea is that they didn't have standing, according to the first court verdict. Because they weren't impacted by the assessment. Hospitals are impacted. But the appeals court said, no, they are impacted because their votes were compromised.

Jim Small: Yeah, basically because of the appellate court changed the way it looked at that / requirement for the super majority. They said these folks would have had their vote diminished and everyone in Arizona, be they a voter at the polls are an elected official, their vote is supposed to mean a certain something. And if it doesn't mean that something, if it means less than that because of a procedural mistake or something nefarious, that is standing. And they should be able to make their case that their rights were taken away from them.

Ted Simons: That is an interesting case and it would certainly make for a major change in what goes on in this state if that were overturned. The Governor has vetoed three gun bills. Any other vetoes that might raise some eyebrows or headlines?

Jim Small: She has vetoed these three gun bills. One was the third time she has vetoed a bill in the same vein about taking guns into public buildings. There's probably going to be a couple more vetoes, I would imagine there will be more that come our way next week or two. Hard to say whether there's going to be anything that raises eyebrows. I think really a lot of the controversial, kind of hot-button issues have already been dealt with or they are not going to make it to the Governor's desk.

Ted Simons: Stuff. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Legislature/Education

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  • A good chunk of our state budget is spent on education. We will have a discussion on how education fared this legislative session with Stacey Morley, the Arizona Department of Education Policy Director, Pearl Chang Esau, President and CEO of Expect More Arizona, and Andrew Morrill, President of the Arizona Education Association.
Guests:
  • Stacey Morley - Policy Director, Arizona Department of Education
  • Pearl Chang Esau - President and CEO, Expect More Arizona
  • Andrew Morrill - President, Arizona Education Association
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, legislature, state, budget, session, arizona,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: How did the state leverage handle education issues this session? We ask that question tonight to a panel of Arizona education leaders. Stacey Morley is the state Department of Education's policy director. Pearl Chang Esau is president and CEO of expect more Arizona, a group promoting world-class education for Arizona students. And Andrew Morrill is president of the Arizona education association. Good to have you all here. We have a lot to talk about here. Let's start with just basically, what did the Legislature do this session to help education?

Stacy Morley: Well, we are grateful that the Legislature did provide us additional funding to put out an RFP for a new assessment and also provide the additional funding we need to start completing our data system. And they also added some money in for performance funding. Some of the best things that they did were things they actually didn't do, which is pass legislation that would eliminate the use of the new standards in the schools today.

Ted Simons: What did you see as far as helping education?

Pearl Chang Esau: Yeah, very much along those same lines. The Arizona career ready standards have been an absolutely critical step for Arizona in having high expectations for all of our children in preparing them to be ready for college and career. And we have been implementing these standards for three years. Teachers are very enthusiastic about it. And despite widespread bipartisan support from business and parents, teachers, all across the state we had multiple attempts to roll back those standards this session. And together I am happy to report that we were able to either defeat or stall all of the bills. And like Stacey said, secure some funding for the transition to a new test that's long overdue.

Ted Simons: As far as pluses, I know you got some minuses here, but what did the Legislature do to help things?

Andrew Morrill: Everybody always looks to me to be the tough one. Why do I have this reputation as the tough grader? Look, the Legislature paid attention to some very strong, very emphatic business leaders and educational leaders that said these standards are great for students. I think most of the successes are close to that issue, upholding standards. In many ways the session kicked the can down road about some deeper conversations. I congratulate Legislature on obeying a court order to fund inflation, something they were having trouble doing for four years prior. And that issue is not done yet. So they kind of kicked that one down the road. But, yeah, there were small bits and pieces of little victories. I would attribute those mainly to powerful voices that influenced some of the legislators.

Ted Simons: Let's get to this common core. We will start with that since that seems to be on top of mind. What is the reason for much divisiveness regarding this test? What's going on with this?

Stacy Morley: I believe that most of it is rooted in a very big misconception that the standards were developed by the Federal government, that are being imposed on us by the Federal government they were, in fact, starting to be developed far earlier than this presidential administration took office by the state and the Governors. And we had all looked at being spurred by business, by saying that we are not seeing graduates from our high schools and from our colleges that are able to fill the jobs of the future.

Ted Simons: The idea that this is a nationalization of Arizona education, saying it should be more local? There's some sort of Socialistic atmosphere going on here? How did that get there into the conversation? How do you respond to it?

Pearl Chang Esau: Well, I think there's a couple of really big pieces of misinformation that have occurred. And the one is that it's a Federal mandate. Like Stacy mentioned is simply not true. I think the part where people may have gotten confused there was a point in which the Obama administration offered incentives in the race to the top applications to adopt standards that were preparing kids to be college and career ready that were common across states, but common core standards were not named in that but there was an incentive. And the other issue is there's a misperception between standards and curricula. Local districts continue have as they always have local control over what curricula and strategies they use to implement these standards.

Andrew Morrill: Who knew? Turns out Obama is a bit of a lightning rod. I didn't see that one coming. Look, the real issues around the common core standards, Arizona's college and career ready standards, they have the right bearing. They have the right intent in mind. Leave students well prepared for when they leave school, whatever their path may be. We have some conversations we ought to be having and the misinformation campaign is kind of pulled us off the mark. I credit Expect More Arizona and frankly aspects of the Department of Ed, the business community for trying to stay on track. Education leaders, if people were listening to teachers they would be hearing teachers say the standards are good, the standards are good for students. Now let's figure out how we are going to make all of this successful. And that's the conversation we haven't had yet.

Ted Simons: We don't always hear that the tests are good for students. There's a lot of teachers out there that say you are teaching to a test. You are too focused and not getting a well-rounded education. Talk about that dialogue.

Pearl Chang Esau: We have to be honest and say nobody really likes tests. But the reality is that good teaching is good teaching, you know, with the old standards and the new standards. Which means you don't teach to a test. We shouldn't be teaching to a test regardless. With the aim standards because of some of the Federal requirements around no child left behind, we had a low-bar assessment graduating our students with more of a tenth grade proficiency which is why we have a 60% remediation raid in our community colleges. Everyone was teaching to this low-bar test. I think the opportunity we had with the new assessment that the state board is currently selecting is that this is a test that will move us away from rote memorization into more critical thinking and students being able to apply the learning they have to different situations.

Andrew Morrill: Ted, really, we can talk about teaching to the test and we don't want to do that but in Arizona we policy to the test. We have created enormous consequences for our schools, our individual teachers, and our districts that are tied to the measurement of a test score. This is happening at the state level. It's happening at the national level. So what's happened is the assessment is in danger of becoming more important than the education system itself.

Ted Simons: With that idea in mind the Governor's performance funding plan, good for Arizona?

Andrew Morrill: Not right now. Not well thought out yet and not the priority that we needed. In the face of years of deep cuts to education, $1.5 billion in cuts to K-12 in the last five years, the lowest per pupil funding before the cuts, the biggest cuts in the country over the last five years, how do we go and look at a very small sum of differentiated funding that not everyone district is going to receive? Again, driven by a test score. And call this game changing. Game changing would be to fund schools.

Ted Simons: Your thoughts on the Governor's performance funding plan. And performance funding plans in general.

Stacy Morley: Performance funding is a definitely very complicated issue. And the superintendent feels very strongly that if you don't have multiple measures, it's very hard. If you link it only to performance on one thing, it becomes very easy to focus on that one thing. So when you have multiple measures in a measurement system, it makes it harder and makes it a true reflection of the school's performance. I think the Governor's plan is a very good start but I think it's something we continue need to look at and see what those unintended consequences can be for incentivizing behavior.

Ted Simons: A good start?

Pearl Chang Esau: The number one job is to make sure schools have what they need especially struggling schools, to make sure every child in our state has a chance to graduate from high school. That's the first thing you have to do.

Ted Simons: There was a big push in the Legislature to expand these voucher-like programs, these empowerment scholarship accounts. Your thoughts on the effort to get more, one of the plans would get a lot more, Arizona school kids involve in this program.

Pearl Chang Esau: Yeah. I think on that one we have to start with the vision for what we want for our children. We believe that vision is that every child should have, regardless of their back ground and income or zip code, should have the opportunity to obtain some kind of college degree, certificate, or industry credential because most jobs require it now. And for that to be the case, for every child to have the chance to succeed, they really, we really need to have a strong public education system. We need a public education system that's well-funded, well-supported teachers where every child has that kind of access.

Ted Simons: Does this program take away from that public school?

Pearl Chang Esau: It certainly has the potential of undermining that because it could potentially undermine high expectations for all children. It could undermine the accountability and transparency, apparently we need to make sure we have high-performing schools.

Ted Simons: Your thoughts?

Andrew Morrill: I think Pearl does a really articulate job of representing the fact that a lot of community and opinion leaders weren't looking for voucher expansion and these can be called ESAs. They're vouchers. It was a clever ploy to slip them under the legal radar. You weren't hearing business leaders calling for expansion of vouchers. You certainly weren't hearing educational leaders calling for them. And we are creating a two-class system. We are increasing accountability measures for our K-12 traditional district schools. We are increasing taxpayer accountability, academic accountability and at the same time not funding that system, but draining funds away into a black hole, debit-card scheme of zero accountability for academic, zero taxpayer transparency really and this isn't by any means the priority area. It's mystifying that the Governor chose final days of the session to expand voucher programs with no public call for them.

Ted Simons: Expanding these voucher-like ESAs, call them what you like, is it good for Arizona's public school system?

We definitely have a robust school choice environment here in Arizona. And the department feels that as many choices are available to parents they will be able to choose the best option for their kids. This program is very small. Currently there are about 700 kids on it. Even just this year we had about 2,500 applications, and if that is if the prior years go on, only 50% of those people who actually apply accept the scholarship. Because they see the funding amount and it may not be capable. The expansion is who is eligible. There's a cap on the program. The cap cannot grow.

Andrew Morrill: There is a cap now. It goes away.

Ted Simons: It goes away.

Stacy Morley: And the superintendents favor a permanent cap. The fact is, you have to look at the whole system rather than just one program.

Ted Simons: You mentioned robust school choice in Arizona. Arizona has had robust school choice for many years now.

Stacy Morley: Right.

Ted Simons: And a lot of lawmakers at the Legislature, they think this is a good thing. If it is such a good thing, why aren't education results in Arizona getting better?

Andrew Morrill: Very good question.

Stacy Morley: Actually, in some ways the, our results are getting better. But, in fact, we are start, from behind -- if you look at us, we have had better growth in some grades than other states. But everybody keeps moving. So when you start at bottom and everyone else is moving along, too, it's very hard to have our academics grow. I think the standards are a big, big step in the right direction. The fact is that when examining our standards and examining what we call proficiency on aims with other states, our proficiency is actually much lower than what it would be in another state.

Ted Simons: If those are the results and, again, if we are supposed to celebrate school choice, and we have had school choice for so long, why aren't we celebrating better results?

Pearl Chang Esau: I think it's a little bit of misplaced emphasis. We need to focus a lot more on quality of educational choices as opposed to quantity of educational choices. And I think the environment in which we set up choice, which we very much support public school choice, but the environment was one in which we were more focused on creating lots of options as opposed to making sure they were all really great option. So you see the charter school association and others advocating for the shutdown of low-performing charter schools because they realize this is a disservice.

Ted Simons: We have about a minute left. Again, I am asking you. Why aren't we -- why isn't the public school system in Arizona overall doing better?

Andrew Morrill: Because we speak identity of both sides of our mouth about the value of choice. Number one choice made by parents in Arizona overwhelmingly, 92%, is to send their students to local district community neighborhood schools. That's a choice the Legislature has yet to catch up with. Long on rhetoric, short on investment strategies, we are not honoring the choice that parents are making when we want to get serious about how we invest in the schools we need, we'll see the results.

Ted Simons: We have to stop it right there. Great discussion. Good to have you here.

Andrew Morrill: Thank you.

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