Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 31, 2007


Host: Ted Simons

Career Ladder Lawsuit


  • Career Ladder is Arizona’s performance-based pay program for teachers. Twenty-eight Arizona school districts participate in the program while more than 200 others do not. They couldn’t participate if they wanted to because the State legislature hasn’t approved new Career Ladder funding since 1994. Gilbert Public Schools, a nonparticipating district, has filed a lawsuit claiming the program violates the State Constitution’s “general and uniform” requirement for public education. A Gilbert Public Schools representative and the President of the Arizona Education Association discuss the lawsuit. Read the lawsuit. [pdf file] 598 KB Arizona Education Association Web site
Guests:
  • Kevin Demenna - Demenna Associates, a lobbying firm that represents Gilbert Public Schools
  • John Wright - President, Arizona Education Association
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," an east valley school district is challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's performance-based pay program for teachers. And a former U.N. weapons inspector talks about his criticism of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and concerns about a rhetoric now aimed at Iran. Those stories next on "Horizon."

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Good evening, I'm Ted Simons. Welcome to "Horizon." Career Ladder is Arizona's performance-based pay program for teachers. Twenty-eight school districts participate in the program. More than 200 districts do not and they couldn't if they wanted to because the state legislature hasn't approved new Career Ladder funding since 1994. Districts that participate in career ladder get extra money to attract, retain, and motivate teachers. Last year those districts budgeted an extra $74 million for the program. Gilbert Public Schools, a non-participating district, says that's unfair and earlier this month filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court claiming the program violates Arizona's constitution. Joining me to talk about the lawsuit is Kevin Demenna of Demenna associates, a lobbying firm that represents Gilbert Public Schools. And John Wright, president of the Arizona education association, the state's largest professional organization for teachers. Gentlemen thank you so much for joining us here on "Horizon." John, let's start with you. What is Career Ladder?

John Wright:
It is a compensation system, performance pay mechanism, where teachers in the district -- they earn money above their salary negotiated by contract by doing work and demonstrating their performance. They demonstrate in student achievement, in their practice in the classroom, in work they do with colleagues and peers and in extra opportunity they afford students during the day and sometimes after the school day.

Ted Simons:
Any research to show this particular program works?

John Wright
There is research, and some of it was published in January. It doesn't necessarily show that this leads to that. There is a correlation of students achieving where teachers are participating in the program.

Ted Simons:
Kevin, why file the suit? It sounds like a good program.

Kevin DeMenna:
It is a good program. In her state of the state, governor's state of the state, in the beginning of the last legislative session, she said, "It is here, it's ours, it works; now let's take the concept statewide." The problem for it to be rolled out statewide, it needs to be fully funded. You mentioned in the opening, 28 districts participate. That leaves 209 that do not. The constitution requires that school districts be funded in a general and uniform manner. Those three words general and uniform are lifted straight from the constitution. It seems clear on the face of it with 28 participating and 209 excluded, we do not have a general and uniform program.

Ted Simons:
How were these districts chosen?

Kevin DeMenna:
The original program started in 1985. It was a five year pilot. Seven districts at a time each successive year were added. In the final year that it was funded, which I believe was 1995, the total came to 28. And at that stage, further funding hasn't been forthcoming, and Department of Education, which is the entity that Gilbert Public Schools has sued, has simply stopped taking applications. A district can't go to the desk at the Department of Education and fill out the forms to enroll in the program.

Ted Simons:
John, is it fair that so many districts get a chance at this and so many more don't?

John Wright:
It's not. It's not general and uniform. I worry that we risk destroying the program by filing this lawsuit. We can, working with Kevin and others, work with the legislature and identify funding sources and begin to phase in other districts over the future. Exactly what we do need in our schools in Arizona, it is a proven program, recognized nationally, and the idea that the legislature shut the door in 1994 because they recognized something was working and it was costing money and that's where they didn't want to go.

Ted Simons:
Is that still the argument coming from the capital, it just costs too much money?

John Wright:
I think that is the fundamental reason, it costs too much money. I think something that works, that is where you get the money and pay for something that the public demands.

Ted Simons:
Kevin, the idea of a good program, let's expand it, if we can expand it and include -- if we can't expand it and include everyone, is that where you are coming from?

Kevin DeMenna:
No, no, and in fact, we have three options. One is to repeal the program. That is absolutely not what Gilbert public schools wants to see happen. Number two would be to take the existing funding, which is a total of $74 million, split pretty much equally between local effort and state, and then divide that among all of the districts in the state. That has by no means any practical value, because the money just isn't realistic. The third, and really the only viable option, is to roll the program out to all districts, proportionally funded, and allow the other 209 districts to enact programs similar to those the 28 presently have.

Ted Simons:
But, again, if that doesn't happen, the program goes away by way of the lawsuit?

Kevin DeMenna:
If the judge were to say this program was unconstitutional, it is our expectation, and I would be happy to tell you more about the legislative effort, that the contracts presently in place would be allowed, run their course, and before the expiration of those contracts, the legislature would have acted. This program presently, even though in only 28 districts, covers about 35\% of teachers and students. The numbers are almost identical, teachers and students. The real issue is how do we roll it out statewide? That is what the lawsuit is designed to jump start, is the dialogue to get that to happen.

John Wright:
I wish we were putting our energies into that roll out rather than into a court battle. Because we really do risk losing a program in this particular strategic effort to expand it. Kevin has got a lot of influence in the capital. I would like for AEA and Demenna and Associates to work together with legislatures, here is how we can do this and we have political will and determination to do it together, not have to fight about it in front of at judge where there really is a risk in the outcome.

Ted Simons:
And back to the legislative mode, is there not a risk as well, if legislatures feel if this comes before us one more time, we're tired of dealing with this, trying to figure out a way to get this to work?

Kevin DeMenna:
The real issue here is where is the opposition? You have--we have met with legislative leadership, legislative staff. The governor's office. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, all of them on record as supporting the roll-out statewide of the Career Ladder program. However, last year, I would say last year was our biggest legislative push. We still fell short. We're still back where we were. So the only way, really--the legislature respond to two things, lawsuits and initiative referenda. What we got, really, is the means to leverage this debate, and that is what we are doing.

Ted Simons:
Do you think the legislature will get the message if this thing is filed and this thing goes through?

John Wright:
I don't think this legislature appreciates being told what to do through the court system-they didn't in Flores. I think they're going to back up against the wall, fold their arms and watch the issue play out in court.

Ted Simons:
Why not split the money that is available for all school districts?

John Wright:
I think it is going to -- you get a diminished return when you dilute the money and distribute it among all 220 school districts. Evidence and there is a lot of evidence around good, successful performance-pay systems; you have to have a meaningful amount of money that you are working for in order for the system to work. Otherwise you put a couple of hundred dollars out there for teachers to do real work to see if they can access that money. It needs to be fully funded in all of the districts.

Ted Simons:
Should the suit be successful and let's say this goes away, what happens then? Where do you go next?

Kevin DeMenna:
We think the impact would be immediate. The legislature, whether through special session, or they may already be in session, would immediately focus on rolling this program out statewide. The issue, as frankly most every issue at the legislature, comes down to money and resources. If the political will is there, then the resources will follow. We're in a deficit situation. State budget is supposedly 600 plus in the red, 600 million plus. There are ways to deal with this. There are solutions to that problem. The simple fact is that the average starting wage for a teacher in Arizona right now is about $31,000. That's pathetic. In society, and frankly, among policy makers, the value placed on teachers, their role, is far, far higher than that. We think what is necessary is to frankly compel policy makers to address this. We think they will step to the plate. Representative Mark Anderson, chairman of the education committee, in the house, has committed to introducing a bill, making sure that it gets to the floor of the house, gets a vote, gets the members on record. We are seeing similar support in the senate. Now, this bill will in its simplest form do two things: roll the program out statewide, probably phased in over five years. That helps the state swallow the bitter financial pill a little bit more slowly.

Ted Simons:
The cost of that?

Kevin DeMenna:
Probably upwards of $200 to $250 million depending on what rolls out. Not every district will elect to participate. Other essentially is local control. We think another component of the Anderson legislation will be basic performance measure. If policy makers at the state level have some right to stipulate some performance measures as well.

Ted Simons:
If the legislature does need a push and a shove and an incentive to, to go ahead and address the issue, get this thing statewide, whatever the case may be, is the lawsuit not a bad idea?

John Wright:
I think it is a gamble. The risk of the lawsuit coming out with a decision, this is not uniform, it doesn't work, the program goes away. It just isn't worth taking. Especially if we are getting Anderson willing to run the bill and we are trying to have the conversations to get this is there is about $250 million coming back online in two years that was cut temporarily in the '05 budget. Let's get that money and identify it that we're going to use it to pay teachers.

Ted Simons:
Gentlemen, thank you so much. Former United Nations Weapons Inspector, Scott Ritter, says rhetoric aimed at Iran is similar to that aimed at Iraq before the American invasion of that country. Ritter has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq invasion and of the Bush administration. He's fought off charges that were leveled against him, including spying for Israel. He was in Phoenix recently to talk about his book "Waging Peace: The Art of War for the Antiwar Movement." Larry Lemmons spoke with the former marine about his experience fighting the run-up to the war.

Larry Lemmons:
Scott Ritter, I would like to begin with the early days and the run-up to the war in Iraq. We have already been in Afghanistan and making the case for the war in Iraq, bush administration saying there were weapons of mass destruction, and you were out there saying that just wasn't so. Can you talk about political climate in those days? What was it like for you?

Scott Ritter:
Well, I had actually initiated that line of attack, so to speak in 1999, right after the December, 1998, bombing of Iraq by Bill Clinton, and Operation Desert Fox. I said we need to have a complete rethink about what we're doing in Iraq. W.M.D.'s were used for justification, but when one took a look at the list of sites being bombed, I went wait a minute. I was just in Iraq as a chief weapons inspector and these sites do not have anything to do with ongoing weapons of mass destruction capability. We're being led down the path of fighting a war under false premise. Again, this was an articulation of criticism towards Bill Clinton. I started going around to congress. I went to John Kerry's office, Joe Biden's office, Chuck Hagel's office and talked to them about this. That manifested itself in an article I wrote in June of 2000, if we start trying to account with every nut, bolt, screw, and instead put on our thinking caps and do fact-based qualitative disarmament, we will see we can account for 95-98 percent of the W.M.D.'s and mitigate the other unaccounted material that we have an inspection regime in place that is monitoring the totality of the infrastructure that is monitory weapons of mass D-- that there is no viable threat coming from Iraq. If we want to resolve this issue, we need to close the book on the disarmament phase, ease tensions in the Middle East. This started before President Bush became president. When he became president though in 2001, I was continuing to struggle. You see the rhetoric ratcheting up, but it is not getting the traction necessary until after September 11th, 2001. After that day, the day we were attacked by Al-Qaeda, it seems thinking caps went out of the window. Fact-based analysis was no longer in vogue. It was this purely faith-based analysis, which was predicated on the notion are you with us or against us? If you speak out against us, you are part of the enemy, terrorists. Here I was, speaking out against American policy, a 12 year veteran, gone to war for my country, who was an intelligence professional doing his job, which is to put truth on the table, and now my patriotism is called to effect. I think it's an inglorious culminating point in the fall of 2002 where it had an impact on American policy, by daring to go to Baghdad and confront the Iraqi parliament on their failure to comply with Security Council resolutions. After meetings with the Iraqi government, to have Saddam Hussein, five days later, say okay we will let weapons inspectors back in. This was a threat to American policy which was exploiting the fact that there were no inspectors in Iraq to say anything they wanted about Iraq's W.M.D. Now, with inspectors back in, within a series of months, every accusation put forward by the CIA was shown to be baseless. So, now, you have this problem, you have this truth against fiction, and fiction needs to win and you start attacking the truth teller. It was an interesting period of time.

Larry Lemmons:
You said it was interesting, but I wonder if you might elaborate on that. The Bush Administration is well known for going after its critics. I was wondering what it was like for you personally in having to deal with that.

Scott Ritter:
From a human perspective, no one likes to be subjected to anything that is derogatory towards themselves, and especially--

Larry Lemmons:
In such a public manner, too.

Scott Ritter:
Of course, in a very -- well, everything is in a public manner if you are going to take on the government. You know, I have no problem airing dirty laundry if there is dirty laundry to be aired, but what I don't like are baseless, unsustained allegations of the most horrendous kind being put out there by the media, and having the media once they do it go "Oops, I guess there is nothing there." There is no apology. No recanting. They leave it hanging. You have to deal with it. What I learned was -- you have to basically treat it as water off the duck's back. Shrug the water off and keep going. I can't allow my life to be held hostage by the vagaries of the public opinion. At the end of the day the only people that matter to me are my family, friends, and my colleagues, and I can say without exception, my family stuck with me, my friends stuck with me, my colleagues stuck with me ‘cause they know who I am. These are fact-based people. This isn't right. This isn't what is going on. They hung with me. The people that would buy into assertions -- you pick one. There are so many thrown out there --

Larry Lemmons:
Well, just in the interest of truth. Some of the allegations made against you at that time were you were trying to pick up underage girls on the internet. You were never found guilty of anything of any sort but know that story got out there in the media.

Scott Ritter:
It was dismissed. No substance to the allegation. You know, when you have the FBI seize your computers in such a high-profile case, one would think if it is internet-based activity, evidence would be derived from that. The computers were returned to me. There is nothing on the computers. You know, but, again, that -- you won't find that on the headlines. You will have the allegation made and the results are out there. What I would like to point out is that while that might be spectacular for the media, the charge which was proffered; it was a class B misdemeanor. It is a traffic ticket. The one I was worried about wasn't that. That one hurt in terms of the immediacy of the media coverage. That is done with. No one is talking about that anymore unless you are a right- wing fanatic. The ones that hurt were these serious felony charges of espionage when I was allegedly working for the state of Israel. These are the ones that put you in jail for life, that get you executed, and to fight them you have to hire serious lawyers. To fight these internet charges, you know the lawyer who represented me, family lawyer who closed my house. All right. That just tells you how seriously I treated this. There was nothing to defend. This was going through a process in the court to get it dismissed. The other ones required me to hire a team of lawyers that bankrupt me. When the government comes after an individual who dares speak out and they come after them in a way that requires legal representation, unless that individual has deep pockets, that individual will go through extreme financial difficulty, and generally what the government wants is for the individual to disengage because they can no longer afford to sustain the fight.

Larry Lemmons:
Well let's talk about Iraq. How would you characterize the situation there now in Iraq?

Scott Ritter:
Unmitigated disaster. We could go on from there. I could spend the next five minutes throwing words together that mean the same thing. Iraq was a war of choice. It wasn't a conflict thrust on us. Our nation chose to go to war. The foundation of justification is corrupt. Nothing we said about Iraq turned out to be true in advance of the conflict. We have changed our goals and objectives repeatedly; they seem to change every six months. Six months seems to be the time frame of change. Not because of the reality of Iraq, but because of domestic, American, political, you know, dynamic. Our politicians today aren't seeking a solution in Iraq based upon what's going on on the ground in Iraq. They are seeking a solution based upon what is going on on the ground here in the United States. The report by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the United States congress was a report designed to sooth the ruffled feathers in congress, not to actually put a solution on the ground as to what is really going to work in Iraq. That is the problem. When you seek a solution, without first defining the problem, the solution you seek will never succeed. We're going to be stuck in Iraq for a long, long time. Not because it is a fight worth fighting. Not because we're seeking a real solution on the ground, but because we are trapped in a game of domestic American politics.

Larry Lemmons:
Well, many people are saying now that the situation in Iraq is leading to the drum beats of war in Iran.

Scott Ritter:
Absolutely. It is one of the biggest threats we face. I actually just wrote an article that said as much as I'm against the war in Iraq, I think the antiwar movement needs to put Iraq on the back burner. First of all, from a historical perspective, Iraq is winding down. We have already lost the war. I know people don't want to hear that. The war is lost. It is a matter of how we're going to disengage from Iraq. One of the greatest dangers is that our method of disengagement may be to go through Iran. In fact, many people, opponents of continuing our presence in Iraq, the only way we can resolve the myriad of issues that face us in Iraq, in a positive manner, is to deal with the mulls of Iran, Iranian interference they allege in Iraq that makes it impossible for us to achieve some sort of long-term political solution. To win in Baghdad, we need to win in Tehran. This is an idea that is catching on in congress, because of the simplicity of the argument, not the accuracy, but the simplicity of the arguments. The Iranians are interfering. Let's take down the Iranians. They cast the Iranians in the same manner that we cast Saddam Hussein's Iraq pre-2003.

Larry Lemmons:
Do you see parallels between the run-up to the war in Iraq, talking about weapons of mass destruction, and a possible run-up to war with Iraq, demonizing the country, that sort of thing?

Scott Ritter:
Absolutely. It is a parallel that has a basis in success. Of course, the administration is going to fall back on that which succeeds. What is it doing? It is exploiting the ignorance of the American people about an area of the world they know nothing of. And it does it in a manner that generates fear. And when you have a fearful population, they will turn to you and look for the simple solution. Generally the simple solution can be manifested in sort of immediately pleasurable manners, exploiting notions of revenge, of security. This is where war comes into play. The bottom line, though, is if you actually study Iran -- I could end the war in Iran right now by issuing a round-trip airline ticket, a passport, and $10,000 to every American citizen and say, "Go to Iran for two weeks." I guarantee when they come back the first thing out of the mouth of 99.99\% of them will be I need to go back there again. These are fun people. They are not a threat to us. The American public is ignorant about Iran and, therefore, susceptible to being told that there is a threat, that generates fear. The fear allows them to embrace at face value anything negative put forward about Iran. And that is what is happening. It's a formula that worked with Iraq. Today we now know that nothing the administration said about the threats manifested by Saddam Hussein turned out to be accurate or true. It is not that they got some of it wrong; they got all of it wrong.

Larry Lemmons:
Scott Ritter, thanks very much for talking to us on "Horizon."

Mike Sauceda:
Arizona Governor Napolitano launches a new campaign against underage drinking. It's called, "Draw the Line." Join the governor as she talks about that program and other issues, such as the failure of congress to override President Bush's veto on the S-Chip Program. The governor on "Horizon" Thursday at 7:00.

Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us on "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Have a Happy Halloween.

scott Ritter


  • A conversation with the former U.N. weapons inspector who contradicted the Bush Administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Ritter says the Bush Administration is trying to make a similar case for war against Iran.
Guests:
  • Kevin Demenna - Demenna Associates, a lobbying firm that represents Gilbert Public Schools
  • John Wright - President, Arizona Education Association


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," an east valley school district is challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's performance-based pay program for teachers. And a former U.N. weapons inspector talks about his criticism of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and concerns about a rhetoric now aimed at Iran. Those stories next on "Horizon."

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Good evening, I'm Ted Simons. Welcome to "Horizon." Career Ladder is Arizona's performance-based pay program for teachers. Twenty-eight school districts participate in the program. More than 200 districts do not and they couldn't if they wanted to because the state legislature hasn't approved new Career Ladder funding since 1994. Districts that participate in career ladder get extra money to attract, retain, and motivate teachers. Last year those districts budgeted an extra $74 million for the program. Gilbert Public Schools, a non-participating district, says that's unfair and earlier this month filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court claiming the program violates Arizona's constitution. Joining me to talk about the lawsuit is Kevin Demenna of Demenna associates, a lobbying firm that represents Gilbert Public Schools. And John Wright, president of the Arizona education association, the state's largest professional organization for teachers. Gentlemen thank you so much for joining us here on "Horizon." John, let's start with you. What is Career Ladder?

John Wright:
It is a compensation system, performance pay mechanism, where teachers in the district -- they earn money above their salary negotiated by contract by doing work and demonstrating their performance. They demonstrate in student achievement, in their practice in the classroom, in work they do with colleagues and peers and in extra opportunity they afford students during the day and sometimes after the school day.

Ted Simons:
Any research to show this particular program works?

John Wright
There is research, and some of it was published in January. It doesn't necessarily show that this leads to that. There is a correlation of students achieving where teachers are participating in the program.

Ted Simons:
Kevin, why file the suit? It sounds like a good program.

Kevin DeMenna:
It is a good program. In her state of the state, governor's state of the state, in the beginning of the last legislative session, she said, "It is here, it's ours, it works; now let's take the concept statewide." The problem for it to be rolled out statewide, it needs to be fully funded. You mentioned in the opening, 28 districts participate. That leaves 209 that do not. The constitution requires that school districts be funded in a general and uniform manner. Those three words general and uniform are lifted straight from the constitution. It seems clear on the face of it with 28 participating and 209 excluded, we do not have a general and uniform program.

Ted Simons:
How were these districts chosen?

Kevin DeMenna:
The original program started in 1985. It was a five year pilot. Seven districts at a time each successive year were added. In the final year that it was funded, which I believe was 1995, the total came to 28. And at that stage, further funding hasn't been forthcoming, and Department of Education, which is the entity that Gilbert Public Schools has sued, has simply stopped taking applications. A district can't go to the desk at the Department of Education and fill out the forms to enroll in the program.

Ted Simons:
John, is it fair that so many districts get a chance at this and so many more don't?

John Wright:
It's not. It's not general and uniform. I worry that we risk destroying the program by filing this lawsuit. We can, working with Kevin and others, work with the legislature and identify funding sources and begin to phase in other districts over the future. Exactly what we do need in our schools in Arizona, it is a proven program, recognized nationally, and the idea that the legislature shut the door in 1994 because they recognized something was working and it was costing money and that's where they didn't want to go.

Ted Simons:
Is that still the argument coming from the capital, it just costs too much money?

John Wright:
I think that is the fundamental reason, it costs too much money. I think something that works, that is where you get the money and pay for something that the public demands.

Ted Simons:
Kevin, the idea of a good program, let's expand it, if we can expand it and include -- if we can't expand it and include everyone, is that where you are coming from?

Kevin DeMenna:
No, no, and in fact, we have three options. One is to repeal the program. That is absolutely not what Gilbert public schools wants to see happen. Number two would be to take the existing funding, which is a total of $74 million, split pretty much equally between local effort and state, and then divide that among all of the districts in the state. That has by no means any practical value, because the money just isn't realistic. The third, and really the only viable option, is to roll the program out to all districts, proportionally funded, and allow the other 209 districts to enact programs similar to those the 28 presently have.

Ted Simons:
But, again, if that doesn't happen, the program goes away by way of the lawsuit?

Kevin DeMenna:
If the judge were to say this program was unconstitutional, it is our expectation, and I would be happy to tell you more about the legislative effort, that the contracts presently in place would be allowed, run their course, and before the expiration of those contracts, the legislature would have acted. This program presently, even though in only 28 districts, covers about 35\% of teachers and students. The numbers are almost identical, teachers and students. The real issue is how do we roll it out statewide? That is what the lawsuit is designed to jump start, is the dialogue to get that to happen.

John Wright:
I wish we were putting our energies into that roll out rather than into a court battle. Because we really do risk losing a program in this particular strategic effort to expand it. Kevin has got a lot of influence in the capital. I would like for AEA and Demenna and Associates to work together with legislatures, here is how we can do this and we have political will and determination to do it together, not have to fight about it in front of at judge where there really is a risk in the outcome.

Ted Simons:
And back to the legislative mode, is there not a risk as well, if legislatures feel if this comes before us one more time, we're tired of dealing with this, trying to figure out a way to get this to work?

Kevin DeMenna:
The real issue here is where is the opposition? You have--we have met with legislative leadership, legislative staff. The governor's office. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, all of them on record as supporting the roll-out statewide of the Career Ladder program. However, last year, I would say last year was our biggest legislative push. We still fell short. We're still back where we were. So the only way, really--the legislature respond to two things, lawsuits and initiative referenda. What we got, really, is the means to leverage this debate, and that is what we are doing.

Ted Simons:
Do you think the legislature will get the message if this thing is filed and this thing goes through?

John Wright:
I don't think this legislature appreciates being told what to do through the court system-they didn't in Flores. I think they're going to back up against the wall, fold their arms and watch the issue play out in court.

Ted Simons:
Why not split the money that is available for all school districts?

John Wright:
I think it is going to -- you get a diminished return when you dilute the money and distribute it among all 220 school districts. Evidence and there is a lot of evidence around good, successful performance-pay systems; you have to have a meaningful amount of money that you are working for in order for the system to work. Otherwise you put a couple of hundred dollars out there for teachers to do real work to see if they can access that money. It needs to be fully funded in all of the districts.

Ted Simons:
Should the suit be successful and let's say this goes away, what happens then? Where do you go next?

Kevin DeMenna:
We think the impact would be immediate. The legislature, whether through special session, or they may already be in session, would immediately focus on rolling this program out statewide. The issue, as frankly most every issue at the legislature, comes down to money and resources. If the political will is there, then the resources will follow. We're in a deficit situation. State budget is supposedly 600 plus in the red, 600 million plus. There are ways to deal with this. There are solutions to that problem. The simple fact is that the average starting wage for a teacher in Arizona right now is about $31,000. That's pathetic. In society, and frankly, among policy makers, the value placed on teachers, their role, is far, far higher than that. We think what is necessary is to frankly compel policy makers to address this. We think they will step to the plate. Representative Mark Anderson, chairman of the education committee, in the house, has committed to introducing a bill, making sure that it gets to the floor of the house, gets a vote, gets the members on record. We are seeing similar support in the senate. Now, this bill will in its simplest form do two things: roll the program out statewide, probably phased in over five years. That helps the state swallow the bitter financial pill a little bit more slowly.

Ted Simons:
The cost of that?

Kevin DeMenna:
Probably upwards of $200 to $250 million depending on what rolls out. Not every district will elect to participate. Other essentially is local control. We think another component of the Anderson legislation will be basic performance measure. If policy makers at the state level have some right to stipulate some performance measures as well.

Ted Simons:
If the legislature does need a push and a shove and an incentive to, to go ahead and address the issue, get this thing statewide, whatever the case may be, is the lawsuit not a bad idea?

John Wright:
I think it is a gamble. The risk of the lawsuit coming out with a decision, this is not uniform, it doesn't work, the program goes away. It just isn't worth taking. Especially if we are getting Anderson willing to run the bill and we are trying to have the conversations to get this is there is about $250 million coming back online in two years that was cut temporarily in the '05 budget. Let's get that money and identify it that we're going to use it to pay teachers.

Ted Simons:
Gentlemen, thank you so much. Former United Nations Weapons Inspector, Scott Ritter, says rhetoric aimed at Iran is similar to that aimed at Iraq before the American invasion of that country. Ritter has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq invasion and of the Bush administration. He's fought off charges that were leveled against him, including spying for Israel. He was in Phoenix recently to talk about his book "Waging Peace: The Art of War for the Antiwar Movement." Larry Lemmons spoke with the former marine about his experience fighting the run-up to the war.

Larry Lemmons:
Scott Ritter, I would like to begin with the early days and the run-up to the war in Iraq. We have already been in Afghanistan and making the case for the war in Iraq, bush administration saying there were weapons of mass destruction, and you were out there saying that just wasn't so. Can you talk about political climate in those days? What was it like for you?

Scott Ritter:
Well, I had actually initiated that line of attack, so to speak in 1999, right after the December, 1998, bombing of Iraq by Bill Clinton, and Operation Desert Fox. I said we need to have a complete rethink about what we're doing in Iraq. W.M.D.'s were used for justification, but when one took a look at the list of sites being bombed, I went wait a minute. I was just in Iraq as a chief weapons inspector and these sites do not have anything to do with ongoing weapons of mass destruction capability. We're being led down the path of fighting a war under false premise. Again, this was an articulation of criticism towards Bill Clinton. I started going around to congress. I went to John Kerry's office, Joe Biden's office, Chuck Hagel's office and talked to them about this. That manifested itself in an article I wrote in June of 2000, if we start trying to account with every nut, bolt, screw, and instead put on our thinking caps and do fact-based qualitative disarmament, we will see we can account for 95-98 percent of the W.M.D.'s and mitigate the other unaccounted material that we have an inspection regime in place that is monitoring the totality of the infrastructure that is monitory weapons of mass D-- that there is no viable threat coming from Iraq. If we want to resolve this issue, we need to close the book on the disarmament phase, ease tensions in the Middle East. This started before President Bush became president. When he became president though in 2001, I was continuing to struggle. You see the rhetoric ratcheting up, but it is not getting the traction necessary until after September 11th, 2001. After that day, the day we were attacked by Al-Qaeda, it seems thinking caps went out of the window. Fact-based analysis was no longer in vogue. It was this purely faith-based analysis, which was predicated on the notion are you with us or against us? If you speak out against us, you are part of the enemy, terrorists. Here I was, speaking out against American policy, a 12 year veteran, gone to war for my country, who was an intelligence professional doing his job, which is to put truth on the table, and now my patriotism is called to effect. I think it's an inglorious culminating point in the fall of 2002 where it had an impact on American policy, by daring to go to Baghdad and confront the Iraqi parliament on their failure to comply with Security Council resolutions. After meetings with the Iraqi government, to have Saddam Hussein, five days later, say okay we will let weapons inspectors back in. This was a threat to American policy which was exploiting the fact that there were no inspectors in Iraq to say anything they wanted about Iraq's W.M.D. Now, with inspectors back in, within a series of months, every accusation put forward by the CIA was shown to be baseless. So, now, you have this problem, you have this truth against fiction, and fiction needs to win and you start attacking the truth teller. It was an interesting period of time.

Larry Lemmons:
You said it was interesting, but I wonder if you might elaborate on that. The Bush Administration is well known for going after its critics. I was wondering what it was like for you personally in having to deal with that.

Scott Ritter:
From a human perspective, no one likes to be subjected to anything that is derogatory towards themselves, and especially--

Larry Lemmons:
In such a public manner, too.

Scott Ritter:
Of course, in a very -- well, everything is in a public manner if you are going to take on the government. You know, I have no problem airing dirty laundry if there is dirty laundry to be aired, but what I don't like are baseless, unsustained allegations of the most horrendous kind being put out there by the media, and having the media once they do it go "Oops, I guess there is nothing there." There is no apology. No recanting. They leave it hanging. You have to deal with it. What I learned was -- you have to basically treat it as water off the duck's back. Shrug the water off and keep going. I can't allow my life to be held hostage by the vagaries of the public opinion. At the end of the day the only people that matter to me are my family, friends, and my colleagues, and I can say without exception, my family stuck with me, my friends stuck with me, my colleagues stuck with me ‘cause they know who I am. These are fact-based people. This isn't right. This isn't what is going on. They hung with me. The people that would buy into assertions -- you pick one. There are so many thrown out there --

Larry Lemmons:
Well, just in the interest of truth. Some of the allegations made against you at that time were you were trying to pick up underage girls on the internet. You were never found guilty of anything of any sort but know that story got out there in the media.

Scott Ritter:
It was dismissed. No substance to the allegation. You know, when you have the FBI seize your computers in such a high-profile case, one would think if it is internet-based activity, evidence would be derived from that. The computers were returned to me. There is nothing on the computers. You know, but, again, that -- you won't find that on the headlines. You will have the allegation made and the results are out there. What I would like to point out is that while that might be spectacular for the media, the charge which was proffered; it was a class B misdemeanor. It is a traffic ticket. The one I was worried about wasn't that. That one hurt in terms of the immediacy of the media coverage. That is done with. No one is talking about that anymore unless you are a right- wing fanatic. The ones that hurt were these serious felony charges of espionage when I was allegedly working for the state of Israel. These are the ones that put you in jail for life, that get you executed, and to fight them you have to hire serious lawyers. To fight these internet charges, you know the lawyer who represented me, family lawyer who closed my house. All right. That just tells you how seriously I treated this. There was nothing to defend. This was going through a process in the court to get it dismissed. The other ones required me to hire a team of lawyers that bankrupt me. When the government comes after an individual who dares speak out and they come after them in a way that requires legal representation, unless that individual has deep pockets, that individual will go through extreme financial difficulty, and generally what the government wants is for the individual to disengage because they can no longer afford to sustain the fight.

Larry Lemmons:
Well let's talk about Iraq. How would you characterize the situation there now in Iraq?

Scott Ritter:
Unmitigated disaster. We could go on from there. I could spend the next five minutes throwing words together that mean the same thing. Iraq was a war of choice. It wasn't a conflict thrust on us. Our nation chose to go to war. The foundation of justification is corrupt. Nothing we said about Iraq turned out to be true in advance of the conflict. We have changed our goals and objectives repeatedly; they seem to change every six months. Six months seems to be the time frame of change. Not because of the reality of Iraq, but because of domestic, American, political, you know, dynamic. Our politicians today aren't seeking a solution in Iraq based upon what's going on on the ground in Iraq. They are seeking a solution based upon what is going on on the ground here in the United States. The report by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the United States congress was a report designed to sooth the ruffled feathers in congress, not to actually put a solution on the ground as to what is really going to work in Iraq. That is the problem. When you seek a solution, without first defining the problem, the solution you seek will never succeed. We're going to be stuck in Iraq for a long, long time. Not because it is a fight worth fighting. Not because we're seeking a real solution on the ground, but because we are trapped in a game of domestic American politics.

Larry Lemmons:
Well, many people are saying now that the situation in Iraq is leading to the drum beats of war in Iran.

Scott Ritter:
Absolutely. It is one of the biggest threats we face. I actually just wrote an article that said as much as I'm against the war in Iraq, I think the antiwar movement needs to put Iraq on the back burner. First of all, from a historical perspective, Iraq is winding down. We have already lost the war. I know people don't want to hear that. The war is lost. It is a matter of how we're going to disengage from Iraq. One of the greatest dangers is that our method of disengagement may be to go through Iran. In fact, many people, opponents of continuing our presence in Iraq, the only way we can resolve the myriad of issues that face us in Iraq, in a positive manner, is to deal with the mulls of Iran, Iranian interference they allege in Iraq that makes it impossible for us to achieve some sort of long-term political solution. To win in Baghdad, we need to win in Tehran. This is an idea that is catching on in congress, because of the simplicity of the argument, not the accuracy, but the simplicity of the arguments. The Iranians are interfering. Let's take down the Iranians. They cast the Iranians in the same manner that we cast Saddam Hussein's Iraq pre-2003.

Larry Lemmons:
Do you see parallels between the run-up to the war in Iraq, talking about weapons of mass destruction, and a possible run-up to war with Iraq, demonizing the country, that sort of thing?

Scott Ritter:
Absolutely. It is a parallel that has a basis in success. Of course, the administration is going to fall back on that which succeeds. What is it doing? It is exploiting the ignorance of the American people about an area of the world they know nothing of. And it does it in a manner that generates fear. And when you have a fearful population, they will turn to you and look for the simple solution. Generally the simple solution can be manifested in sort of immediately pleasurable manners, exploiting notions of revenge, of security. This is where war comes into play. The bottom line, though, is if you actually study Iran -- I could end the war in Iran right now by issuing a round-trip airline ticket, a passport, and $10,000 to every American citizen and say, "Go to Iran for two weeks." I guarantee when they come back the first thing out of the mouth of 99.99\% of them will be I need to go back there again. These are fun people. They are not a threat to us. The American public is ignorant about Iran and, therefore, susceptible to being told that there is a threat, that generates fear. The fear allows them to embrace at face value anything negative put forward about Iran. And that is what is happening. It's a formula that worked with Iraq. Today we now know that nothing the administration said about the threats manifested by Saddam Hussein turned out to be accurate or true. It is not that they got some of it wrong; they got all of it wrong.

Larry Lemmons:
Scott Ritter, thanks very much for talking to us on "Horizon."

Mike Sauceda:
Arizona Governor Napolitano launches a new campaign against underage drinking. It's called, "Draw the Line." Join the governor as she talks about that program and other issues, such as the failure of congress to override President Bush's veto on the S-Chip Program. The governor on "Horizon" Thursday at 7:00.

Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us on "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Have a Happy Halloween.

What's on?

Content Partner:

  About KAET Contact Support Legal Follow Us  
  About Eight
Mission/Impact
History
Site Map
Pressroom
Contact Us
Sign up for e-news
Pledge to Eight
Donate Monthly
Volunteer
Other ways to support
FCC Public Files
Privacy Policy
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Google+
Pinterest
 

Need help accessing? Contact disabilityaccess@asu.edu

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University    Copyright Arizona Board of Regents