Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 23, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Conserving Arizona�s Land and Water Initiative

  |   Video
  • The Nature Conservancy�s Arizona Director discusses an initiative petition drive his organization has launched. If successful, it will place a proposition on November�s general election ballot asking voters to amend the State Constitution to allow 570,000 acres of state trust land to be set aside for permanent conservation. More than ten million acres of trust land were given to Arizona by the federal government at statehood. They�re held in trust, leased and sold by the State Land Department to raise money for public schools and other beneficiaries. Initiative application
Guests:
  • Patrick Graham - Arizona Director, Nature Conservancy
Category: Environment

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Petitions are now being circulated for an initiative to conserve 570,000 acres of state trust land. I'll talk to the leader of the effort in a moment. but first, David Majure explains why this kind of conservation requires voter approval.

Bruce Babbitt:
Planning has for the most part in Arizona kind of been focused on the next subdivision, the details regarding the next shopping center, kind of inward-look at development piece by piece by piece. What gets lost in that is a larger vision.

VO- David Majure:
Former Arizona Governor and U.S. Secretary of interior Bruce Babbitt visited the Grand Canyon last October to share his vision of Arizona with about 150 participants in the 91st Arizona town hall. The topic of the meeting was land use. The goal to decide how Arizona should plan for future growth.

Bruce Babbitt:
People come to Arizona for reasons. They come because of the pages of Arizona highways. It's about the out of doors, about the distant views, the red rocks, the canyons, the Sonoran Desert. but with 6 million people going on 15 in the lifetimes of many residents, you know, we're just destroying the very values that draw people here and that make it such an attractive place.

VO- David Majure:
One of the most challenging land use issues is the management of state trust lands. More than 10 million-acres were given to Arizona by the federal government at statehood. They're held in trust, leased and sold by the state land department to generate money for public education and other beneficiaries.

Steve Betts:
If you look at our urban areas, Maricopa County and pima county in particular, Phoenix and Tucson, if you look at those areas we now have hundreds of thousands if not almost 1 million-acres, 1 million acres of state trust land that is urbanized, that are literally leap-frogged over by growth that we have passed over because we can't get those state trust lands moved to market. And so what we've been talking about in this session is how to make the state land department a real asset manager so they can make more money, so they can bring more of those lands to market so we don't leap-frog and sprawl over the state trust lands in the future.

Carolyn Campbell:
I think an absolutely essential piece to state trust land reform is the ability to purchase and conserve state trust lands for conservation without going to auction. So the communities, local governments and conservation groups can preserve lands. The other thing would be an evaluation process of which lands should be released for development, which lands should be preserved in perpetuity.

VO- David Majure:
Federal law and the state constitution mandate that trust lands be leased or sold at auction to the highest and best bidder. Conserving these lands or changing how they're managed typically requires a constitutional amendment and permission from congress. In the past, that's something Arizona voters have refused to authorize the state to pursue. But the Arizona state conservancy is trying again. It hopes to place a measure on the ballot in November that sets aside those 570,000-acres of state trust land for permanent conservation.

Ted Simons:
Joining me to talk about the trust land initiative is Patrick Graham, Arizona Director of the Nature Conservancy. Patrick, thank you for joining us, thanks for being on the show.

Patrick Graham:
Glad to be here Ted.

Ted Simons:
Conserving Arizona's land and water initiative, what is it?

Patrick Graham:
It's an effort to help modernize Arizona's state trust land reform laws. And basically it would protect 570,000-acres of Arizona's most important lands and waters. It would help ensure funding for Arizona's classrooms, and it would help improve the management of the remaining 9.3 million-acres of trust lands in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
570,000-acres permanently off limits?

Patrick Graham:
Permanently protected from development. These are important lands like areas around Castle Hot Springs, Superstition Mountains, McDowell, Sonoran preserves.


Ted Simons:
Are they concentrated in one general area or all over the state?

Patrick Graham:
It's really all over the state. I think in most every county in the state there would be some lands that would be protected.

Ted Simons:
I know there was supposed to be a deal, or at least a deal was being worked on between lawmakers and the governor. What happened there, and can that kind of deal still be worked out?

Patrick Graham:
Well, that was negotiations that started about nine months ago, and we were watching that to see if those negotiations produced a bill and they did not. And the governor announced that they'd reached an impasse. And it wasn't until that happened that we pulled together a group of people and said, "Let's see if we can get something. We think this is too important of an issue to wait until 2010.

Ted Simons:
Impact fees, I know -- at least from what I understand -- were a major part of the concern regarding developers, home builders and such. Why was that a no go?

Patrick Graham:
Well, we weren't at the table so I can't really address the issues that were there. This is kind of a new issue. It hadn't been there in the previous five or six years so I can't say for sure. We definitely believe its part of the existing statutes. And so our constitutional amendment wouldn't address it because it's not in the constitution. So that would be an issue that could still be addressed by the legislature in the future. But this measure deals just with the changing of the constitution. We need to bring it up-to-date, you know. The constitution that guides us was put in place almost 100 years ago. And things have changed.

Ted Simons:
The idea of selling for fair market value instead of the highest value you can get, explain again why that would be a good thing for Arizona.

Patrick Graham:
One of the things that the Arizona preserves initiative created a process where communities could buy land for conservation. What happened is that challenged and it was termed that for that to move forward they would actually have to bid. So you could potentially have a community trying to conserve land having to bid against a developer. That uncertainty would make it difficult to protect these important areas. So what this would do would ensure that those lands could be sold for conservation at their appraised fair market value. So the trust gets the value but you don't have the risk.

Ted Simons:
You don't have the risk, but some would argue you don't get the money, either.

Patrick Graham:
Well, that's interesting. Because three of the last sales have been offered up, no one bid on. So what the land department appraises it at, it cuts both directions. When you're in an up market maybe they're not keeping up but in a down market they may be actually appraising it at more than it's worth. So it's not a given that when they establish the appraised value that someone's going to bid it up.

Ted Simons:
How do you argue against those, though, who say that if it's not the highest value, if it's not done again to help with education and pay for certain things, that you're undermining the trust by preserving this land?

Patrick Graham:
Yeah. The land, the 570,000-acres that are set aside here are again some of Arizona's most important lands and waters. There is more than adequate lands left. There's 9.3 million acres in total to meet the future growth needs for the next 50 years and beyond. There's over 200,000 acres of land just within the urban boundaries of Tucson and Phoenix, many of which are suitable for development. In fact, this measure would allow the legislature to put funding into the land department to help get those lands out into the market, and really it would help us avoid some of the sprawl been facing in the past.

Ted Simons:
And some developers I understand are actually for this idea because developments would then be up against preserved areas and thus increasing the value of those developed lands.

Patrick Graham:
Right. Setting these lands aside does increase the value of the remaining lands. That's definitely one benefit. The other is that when you get the development in closer you don't have all the infrastructure costs. So that's a benefit to development as well as to the commuters. They don't have the long drives.

Ted Simons:
Yeah. I want to go back to the concept, though, of undermining the trust. Because again, the bottom line here is that we've got the land, we want to sell it for as much as we possibly can. If successful to get this thing on the ballot you're going to have to explain this to a lot of folks that we try to sell this land for as much as we can except for this land. Can you do that? Is that easily enough explained?

Patrick Graham:
The public really thinks these lands should be protected. And it's fair to -- the lands that -- the 570,000 acres would be set aside permanently in the trust. It would continue to generate revenue for the trust. So the value remains there for the trust. for the lands that are sold for conservation, they would be sold at their fair market value, just as your home or your property might be sold, you would expect that appraised value would be a fair, reasonable expectation. What the community gets in addition is they get the open space for the recreation. So it provides a balance. We think the people of Arizona don't want to have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. And through this measure they won't have to. They get both.

Ted Simons:
So if some land goes for less than it might have at auction, that's considered what, an investment on preserving Arizona land?

Patrick Graham:
They're still getting the full fair market value of the lands. So yeah, getting a good price for the land. And quite frankly it's just sitting there now. Without this measure, there is hundreds of thousands of acres that could be revenue basically that could be going to the schools that's not going there at all.

Ted Simons:
Two and a half months now to get, what a couple hundred thousand signatures?

Patrick Graham:
About 300,000 signatures. the delay in having the action taken by the legislature put it right about to the edge of where we need to be. But we're confident the folks out gathering the petitions are once they understand what it is. So we're feeling very good.

Ted Simons:
Alright Patrick, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Patrick Graham:
Thank you.

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small joins us with the latest news from the Capitol.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to Horizon, I'm Ted Simons. State lawmakers passed a current year budget fix. Now they're working on next year's nearly $2 billion budget shortfall. Here to tell us what's going on is Jim Small, reporter for "The Arizona Capitol Times." Jim thanks for joining us. Good to see you. What's going on with that budget?

Jim Small:
Not a whole lot right now. Last Thursday lawmakers passed a budget fix for the current year, solved the $1.2 billion budget deficit. Governor signed it on Friday. Since then hasn't been a whole lot of activity as far as negotiations go. republican leaders I spoke with today said they were going to take afternoon and meet with their caucus members, try to figure out where other republicans wanted to go for the next fiscal year, how much budget cuts they were looking at, what kind of fund sweeps or other options may be on the table. It's kind of frustrated some of the Democrats I talked to; we were doing a lot of work on the '09 budget. We got some agreements in place, we were making strides. And now we kind of hit the brakes. And they're kind of sitting in a holding pattern waiting to go find out what's going to happen. And Republicans say as soon as they talk to their members they'll come back to the Democrats and hopefully get negotiations going again with the governor.

Ted Simons:
It seems as though with this kind of a shortfall projected it could really get to be knock down drag out time. Are you sensing that around the capitol?

Jin Small:
I think there’s definitely an air of an expectation for a long fight on this. a lot of people when they were doing the original plan was to do two years together, current year and next year's budget together. Everyone said they're intertwined. It's really difficult to split them apart. One of the added benefits was the clock was ticking on the current year. You had to get that done as quickly as possible, which meant they had to get next year’s done as quickly as possible. That would have resulted in a shorter legislative session. Because once the budget was done, that's the major work. It's going to be pretty tough to keep lawmakers there for too much longer. Now with them having split this apart, there's really -- I mean, June 30th is now the deadline for them to get a budget done for the '09-year. There's a number of people down there who are very pessimistic. We’re going to be here till the end of June now so cancel any vacations, don’t get your campaign up and running until July.

Ted Simons:
The dust has settled I guess a bit on the '08 fix. who's walking around as a winner and who’s walking around as a loser?

Jim Small:
The general consensus seems to be the Democrats got the better end of the deal for the '08 budget although both sides certainly got things they were looking for. Republicans got more than $300 million in cuts, $200 million of which were actually permanent cuts and are going to continue on into '09 and '10. But the Democrats are able to get a large portion of the rainy day fund to be used for the year, stave off some of the cuts. And they're still in -- there's still an agreement in place for '09 or maybe not agreement but understanding that there needs to be some kind of capital finance for school construction. Wasn't in the '08 budget which republicans are touting as a victory saying we didn't need to bond for this, issue bonds and borrow money nor problem. But it put it off for a couple months until they have to deal with it for the next fiscal year.

Ted Simons:
Tomorrow night program we'll talk about Representative Pearce and his anti-western lessons bill. Give us a quick overview.

Jim Small:
The issue here basically is a program down in Tucson Unified School District where they teach some ethnic studies courses. And the courses are very much pro-Hispanic, teaching the Laraza curriculum. And there are a number of people, especially among republicans who are put off by that. They see it as being anti-American. They teach that Americans are just invading land that is rightfully that of Mexican and of Hispanic people. and so what Representative Pearce is doing is trying to put an end to that and saying, if you guys teach these classes you're not going to get state funding for certain programs and trying to take it away. He also went another step further and would have outlawed clubs that were on campuses both in high school and in colleges and universities that were race-based as far as their entrance. There's some talk that that might disappear now, some unintended consequences. it didn't necessarily go after just the groups they was going after. That's such a broad thing. It goes after Jewish student organizations, African-American student organizations, you know, and not just the people that he views as radical Hispanics.

Ted Simons:
All right and again we'll talk about that tomorrow and have Representative Pearce on the program tomorrow night. Real quickly, gay marriage ban. Apparently it's back, huh?



Jim Small:
It's back. It went through floor debate in the house yesterday, it went through committee hearing earlier in the week -- today was supposed to be voted on the floor but there were a number of Republicans absent and I think leadership looked around the room and counted heads and decided not to do it. Remains to be seen if it will be heard tomorrow or maybe sometime next week.

Ted Simons:
We'll keep an eye on that one. Jim, thanks for joining us as always.

Jim Small:
Thank you, Ted.

Teacher Shortage

  |   Video
  • Ron Marx, Dean of the University of Arizona College of Education, talks about the report his college has prepared for the upcoming Arizona Town Hall. He also discusses some of the challenges Town Hall participants face as they try to recommend ways Arizona can best recruit and retain quality teachers.
Guests:
  • Ron Marx - Dean, University of Arizona College of Education
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Arizona town hall meets in Prescott next week to recommend ways to attract and retain more teachers. Town hall participants already received a background report prepared by the University of Arizona's College of Education. Earlier this week, I spoke with the dean of the college about the report and some of the issues it covers. And thank you for joining us on Horizon.

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
More than happy to.

Ted Simons:
We have the Arizona town hall coming up. This report now, how is this going to prepare and recruit and retain teachers?



Ron Marx, Ph.D:
Well, the topic of the town hall is the schools teach our children. And of course preparing teachers, recruiting them and retake them is all about how we get them and how we keep them. So the report is a background document tone able the participants of the town hall to get smart about those issues in advance of having their debates.

Ted Simons:
Let's get some background information here. Do we have enough teachers in Arizona?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
Well, it depends on how one defines that. We always have shortages of teachers, particularly in certain areas, special education, teaching language learners, mathematics, science and a couple other areas like that. We always have shortages in those areas, it doesn't seem to matter what we do. About half the teachers in the state who are hired in any given year are prepared in the state's universities and the teacher preparation program in the state. That means we need to get other people from other areas.

Ted Simons:
The teachers that we do have, do you think and does the report show that they are sufficiently qualified?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
Yes. With some minor changes to that. They are well-qualified. About 95 or 97%, depending on the area are highly qualified. And again there's certain areas, mathematics, science, special ed where we have those challenges.

Ted Simons:
I want to get back to some other aspects of this. You've gone to math and science a couple times already. Maybe the lack of folks, the lack of qualified folks, how do you fix it? What do you do to recruit some people who may have an expertise there or an interest in those areas to get them into classrooms?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
One of them is making it attractive. We have some policies in the state and federally to make it more attractive. There's a new federal program called the Teach Grant which will enable people who want to be teachers to get about $4,000 a year through their undergraduate career in order to pay for some of the college costs. They'll have to teach in schools and high needs schools, high poverty schools for four years in order to get those loans converted to grants. So there are some upfront ways of doing it. Tuition deferments and scholarship programs, but one of the big issues is quality of life. It's working conditions, its salary. We're competing with the private sector. A person with a B.S.C.. in a science discipline over a lifetime of work, if they go into education they'll be earning about 40% of the total lifetime salary of the same person with the same qualifications working in science and industry. So we have some real issues and real challenges there.

Ted Simons:
Also you mentioned kind of referred to this but the fact that some of the rural areas, some of the low-income areas, it's tough enough to get teachers there but teachers that specialize in science and math and special ed., that must be more difficult.

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
It is more difficult. For some of the science areas there aren't going to be enough students in those schools to offer the specialized courses like A.P. courses in math and chemistry. There might be too few students to create a critical math to want to motivate a teacher to teach there. Also because of mobility issues we find that teachers who are more likely to stay in those kinds of positions come from those kinds of communities in the first place or even those communities. So there are efforts in the state to grow your own, if you will, to try to have local teacher preparation program.

Ted Simons:
You bring that up, grow your own. what kind of efforts are being taken and what kind of plans I guess are being pushed forward to attract teachers from other parts of the country to get them out here?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
Well, our districts go around the country and recruit. That's one thing that happens. And they recruit in areas like the Midwest. Particularly Michigan, where there's an oversupply of teachers. There are teacher preparation programs in Michigan produce far more teachers than they can employ in the Michigan economy. So our people go out and get a lot of talent to Arizona. For them to come here.

Ted Simons:
So there are programs in the works, and those efforts are being --

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
Oh, yes. All of our bigger districts. I don't know about the smaller districts. The bigger districts send their recruiters all over our place. Even our place at the University of Arizona we produce about 350 or 400 teachers a year and we put on recruitment fairs and people come from other areas of the country, Nevada, for example, to recruit our teachers, southern California. So the labor market in education and teaching it is a national labor market. People are prepared and certified in a state, but the market is national.

Ted Simons:
2008 quality counts report. Arizona got a d plus.

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
Mm-hmm.

Ted Simons:
Why and what could be done to change that?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
Well, part of it is our teacher salaries which are not really strong. I'm recruiting a faculty member who has a husband who is a classroom teacher, and he's making about 58 or $60,000 a year as a third grade teacher where he is right now. If he came out here, he wouldn't be able to make that salary because usually when you bring people in they don't come at a high salary. So those are some of the challenges that we face.

Ted Simons:
Teacher attraction, aging population of teachers. Factors? Problems?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
The aging one isn't so much. It's really the retention northwesterly their career. We lose about 8 to 10% of the teachers every year, so roughly 45 or 50% of the new teachers are no longer teaching after five years. Part of that is just the normal wear and tear on people. They decide they want to do something else. Most elementary teachers are women. They start families. Some of these are just normal things that happen in the course of life. But part of it, at least a third of the loss of the teachers in the state, are because of working conditions, salaries, leadership in the schools which is also an important issue.

Ted Simons;
Are there efforts to try to get some of these inactive teachers back in the mix?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
There are efforts locally, but there's no statewide effort. And we should really consider that.

Ted Simons:
Yeah. Adjunct teachers, folks who are not necessarily going to education school and all this kind of business but know enough to where they think they could be a pretty good teacher. What are your thoughts on that?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
I just came from the governor's office and had a very spirited debate about this very issue with the governor's p-20 council. It's a very hot issue. There might be some places in our schools where that might work. I doubt that it will be a kind of program that will solve any fundamental problems because businesses might loan people or they might come in for a course or two. They might be effective. But there's really quite more to teaching than just presenting your subject matter. There's a specialized professional knowledge that's required of teachers, and these folks will not have it. We have at the university adjunct instructors, at community colleges. But that's a very small, select group of folks who are in classes. That's not the broad range of children you have in school with E.L.L. issues, special education issues, the technical issues of assessment which are really quite important for teachers to know are not going to be mastered by these folks. So there is a limited professional knowledge they'll have. Then in order to mentor them and supervise them you have to take people in the school. So they're a real cost to the school to bring an add adjunct into their building.

Ted Simons:
I can hear critics saying, yes, but we're getting d pluses there, failing marks there, ranked 49 out of 50 whatever on certain things, let's try something new, something different.

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
We definitely need to try different things and in you things. I have no quarrel with that -- quarrel with that. I just don't think the adjunct program is the answer.

Ted Simons:
The biggest challenge, if this room were full of teachers. What would be their biggest challenge?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
One would be working conditions. What I mean by working conditions, class size, enough time for planning, sufficient and high-quality professional development for their work throughout their career, decent salaries that recognize their work. And I think one thing that we can do as a community, as a state, is to support our schools and our teachers. The incessant harping on the quality of education in the long haul dissuades people from going into this field.

Ted Simons:
And the last question, is Arizona so young, so dynamic, so diverse for better or worse in all of these things, I mean, we both come from different areas of the country where education is more established, it's maybe even thought of more highly in certain communities than others. Is this just a factor in Arizona of maturing?

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
It might be, but we'd better mature in the right way. So we still have to guide our culture, guide our public discourse about these issues in the right way.

Ted Simons:
All right. Hey, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Ron Marx, Ph.D:
You're welcome.

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