February 1, 2010
Host: Ted Simons
ASU Teacher Education
- Dr. Mari Koerner, Dean of ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership talks about the College’s efforts to improve teacher education, including a new partnership with Teach for America.
- Dr. Mari Koerner - Dean of ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership
Ted Simons: Businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford is helping Arizona partner with "Teach For America" to find better ways to produce highly teachers. Joining me now to talk that and other initiatives to improve teacher training here we have Dr. Mari Koerner, Dean of ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership
Ted Simons: Good to have you, thanks for joining us.
Mari Koerner: Thanks for invitingng me.
Ted Simons: You betcha. Let's talk about this new project and what exactly changes.
Mari Koerner: Denny Sanford has great vision, just like Michael Crow, in terms of being innovative and entrepreneurial. He recognizes the excellence in "Teach For America." And as a philanthropist he has focused on bettering children's lives. And what is better for children than having a great teacher? And what's better for the United States than having kids who are prepared better? So working together we have designed a project where we will work with "Teach For America," look at their materials, look at their procedures, strategies, and we will adapt and then scale back those practices to college education.
Ted Simons: Let's make it clear what "Teach For America" is.
Mari Koerner: All right. Teach For America t's a not for profit organization that recruits, selects some of the brightest and best people, young people especially, throughout the United States to be teachers in classrooms in high-poverty schools, raising the achievement of children, working in schools. Working actually even after their teachers often end upin positions of leadership. They have done this for about 20 years and they have shown great success.
Ted Simons: Back to my first question: education, training for teachers was done this way, and it's now done that way. What changes?
Mari Koerner: Well one of the innovative things about this project, what Denny's vision has meant for us is to push us to open up 13 the door and look at what is successful. What's successful in "Teach For America" is the same goals we do, which is produce really good teachers. Universities are known for being a little closed to the external world in some ways. This offers a partnership we have not been able to take advantage of. So the newest, most innovative thing is we’re saying hey, help us figure out how we can better prepare teachers.
Mari Koerner: Better teachers for classroom management, for specific subjects?
Mari Koerner: We are looking to reform everything we do in our program. So the first thing we're going do is look at general studies courses that our students take. Right now they can take the history of Rock and Roll. Now, not that I'm against the history of Rock and Roll. but they maybe should take the history of the United States. We are looking at the courses they are taking and making sure they are going to be connected to what we have to teach in pre-K-12. So we will be telling them, advising them to take economics, harder and more difficult math. No matter if you teach second grade or 12th grade. We will reform the way we look at general studies. In the regard, Lee Hartwell, a Nobel Prize winner who is coming to ASU, is designing a special science course is being designed in sustainability for our students and he will teach it. Imagine, being able to open ourselves up to all these great minds as a level one institution. We're also going to look at our educational courses and say they are effective. We know you have to know how to teach kids. You have to know how kids learn. We're going reduce those courses while increasing content but make them more powerful and more effective. Helping us will be "Teach For America" to say what's going on there. Third, in clinical experiences we almost double the amount of hours our students are spending in school. We will use the medical school model. We will do rounds and visit them and have them visit each other. It'll be a year in the classroom in the clinical setting.
Ted Simons: When you talk about the clinical model, is this something that is a summer institute that the school is involved in?
Mari Koerner: Yes. One of the things we'll probably be doing is while we'll be looking at "Teach For America's" summer institute, we will help them as well here in Phoenix. We will probably be creating a two-week summer institute, kind of like a boot camp, for our student teachers to have before they go into student teaching with all the kind of what you need to know to be effective in a classroom the minute you walk in. Not when you're a teacher but the minute you walk into that classroom.
Ted Simons: I know there are critics of "Teach For America." They say simply not enough experience goes into these folks before they are thrown into some of the most difficult situations out there with the poor-performing schools and these sorts of things. Why is it that so many education folks look at this curiously and say they don't have the foundation or the history, it takes more than being really smart at math to get a bunch of 9 and 10-year-olds to sit in their chair and pay attention.
Mari Koerner: Well the great thing about this investment from Denny is that that war is over. That colleges of education, like ours, and the leading organization in teacher education has called us and said, luckily now we have found a bridge to be able to work with this organization to, find out what's good for all of teacher preparation. So I think focusing on what we can share, now sharing, is actually today. That was kind of yesterday's argument. We're now looking at today's.
Ted Simons: Let’s talk about sharing, you're going to work as well with the Federal Government, the business community and I would imagine other schools on campus?
Mari Koerner: And we are -- we're going to raise the level of professional -- of our professional schools to be a school of choice. We'd like to say well if can't become a teacher, maybe you can become a doctor. Because our professional school, we're going to raise incentives by working with the college of arts and science, law, and engineering. Also the federal government is a partner that has recognized our capacity to work with school Districts, our other great partners in preparing teachers. We just received a $33.8 million grant to help schools look at their own curriculum, their own teachers and to help reform especially low-achieving schools. Another way that we are reforming what we're doing is saying, when teachers graduate from our program it's not the end. We're going to help them in the school that they are in. We're going to track them. We have a teacher tracking project. We're going follow them. Do they stay in teaching? Are they effective teachers?
Ted Simons: Real quickly, the tracking project intrigues me. What do you actually look at? What do you exactly track?
Mari Koerner: Right now it's to improve our program. So what we’re doing is serving our students when they come into the program, exiting, we have a technology base. We will be following them into their classroom and we're looking at what they are saying about our program. Actually we have changed our program based already on their feedback. As they go into classrooms working with the Arizona Department of Education and their data-gathering. We will be able to tell eventually looking at many different levels of achievement, how they are doing in the classroom. Not one, and that's what we're bringing to this, wha a university can bring. Different ways of looking at achievement.
Ted Simons: The idea of engineering students and law students and these folks, I see lots of dollar signs in front of the salaries later on. I don't see that kind of compensation for teachers. How do you get those folks to come back and say, yeah, I don't mind being in the classroom for so much less than I could have earned.
Mari Koerner: We have examples all around us. Anyone with children actually knows many of the teachers their children have are professionals who really, like Denny, are interested in the lives of children. I think if we raise the status of teaching, the salaries will raise, as well. We will prove that we're very much worth $100,000. As we auto prove that we we are more effective. That we are actually the center of what children learn in school.
Ted Simons: Why do you think teaching is not a more prominent profession?
Mari Koerner: Well, I think teaching is not -- because a lot of women went into it. I think in many ways women were considered the second income. Therefore the income wasn't as important. In many districts the older the child, the more money you make. Typically there's more men in secondary schools. I think everybody thinks they can be a teacher until they get in front of a classroom of 30 kids and then they realize how difficult it is.
Ted Simons: Which is interesting because a lot of folks criticize "Teach For America" because they say some of these folks so successful in other areas don't understand what it's like standing in front of those kids.
Mari Koerner: We found with our Corps members, they are very exceptional young people. We want for everyone out there to say, we want our child who could be a scientist, like Lee Hartwell, who said teachers impacted his entire life, who could be a lawyer or a doctor, a really a wonderful profession is being a teacher.
Ted Simons: Thank you so much for joining us.
Mari Koerner: Thank you for having me.
Legislative Agenda for Business
- Glenn Hamer, President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Tom Franz, President and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, outline their organizations’ priorities for the current session of the State Legislature.
- Glenn Hamer - President and CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Tom Franz - President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Leadership
Ted Simons: The business community like the government has been hit hard by the recession. Here now to talk about their legislative agendas for 2010 are Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, and Tom Franz, president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership, an association that consists primarily of corporate CEOs. Good to have you here.
Tom Franz: Great to be here.
Ted Simons: Priorities for the legislative session, what are we looking for? Glenn, we'll start with you.
Glenn Hamer: We have to resolve the budget crisis and build a stronger economic future. They are bothtied together. Since this recession began Arizona has lost 10% of its workforce. We've been hit harder in terms of losing a percentage of our workforce than even states like Michigan. We have to walk and chew gum. We have to close our structural deficit while we put in place in the future a tax environment that is better in terms of creating jobs.
Ted Simons: How do you close the structural deficit?
Glenn Hamer: That's the $64,000 question. I want to first say that the governor and the state legislature already deserve a lot of credit for what they have done. We've been in a code red for well over a year. We're going to have to do additional spending reductions. I do believe that the legislature is going to need to refer a temporary sales tax measure to the ballot. And unfortunately, there's going to need to be additional borrowing.
Ted Simons: Do you agree that that sales tax needs to go to voters?
Tom Franz: My preference would be that they actually just pass the tax. I think Glenn's right. At the end of the day we are going to have to cut spending, raise revenue, borrow to get out of this fiscal year. Given where we are in the cycle, the fiscal calendar, there's no way to do it without using all those tools. The advantage to passing the tax is it goes into effect sooner, which generates the revenue sooner. So that would be the advantage to the legislature of doing that. If they aren't going pass it, then the referral would obviously be my second choice. But we need the revenue.
Ted Simons: The idea that is the house speaker’s idea regarding the job recovery act. What are your thoughts there, regarding tax cuts, incentives for large employers, corporate tax cuts, individual tax cuts these sorts of things? Thoughts.
Tom Franz: I put the speaker's bill in two groupings. There's a grouping of economic development tools, if you will to, to help bring businesses in and drive the economy. I know there's a lot of business involvement with those and I think those are on the right track. My take on all the tax cuts is given our fiscal problems now. I would not support passing a tax cut that has a timeline on it. I think he's on the right track in some of his actions in the long run. But in the short run given how bad our fiscal situation is, and how we have been inaccurate in predicting what’s going to happen I wouldn't want to put a date and time on a tax cut, given right now we don’t have enough revenue.
Ted Simons: Indeed, Glenn, some folks are saying that this idea of tax cuts in 2012 to 2016, even that's too soon considering what’s going on.
Glenn Hamer: Ted, the most important thing for any sort of tax reform package is for it to get the elements right. What I mean by that is that there are a couple of areas long identified as being very bad in terms of job creation. What I mean by that is our business property tax, which is the highest in the region, fifth highest in the country, and our corporate income tax which is regionally uncompetitive. And I give speaker atoms? A lot of credit for identifying those area. We are less interested in the taking effect this year or next year or the year after than getting the structure of this tax reform package right.
Ted Simons: The idea though that future tax cuts with shortfalls now and shortfalls into the foreseeable future, simply don't make sense. Democrats and critics bring this up on the program all the time. How do you respond?
Glenn Hamer: I respond that this state has been hard hit by this recession. There's no state in the country that has lost a greater percentage of its workforce since the great recession began two years ago. The speakers put a lot of time, he’s worked with one of the most well-known and respected economists in the state in putting together a comprehensive program that not only deals with reforming Arizona’s tax system but also deals with the economic development piece and deals with building base industry in this state. But we certainly are mindful of the points that Tom has made, that, you know, we are in a very difficult cash situation and we have to make -- we have to be very careful in terms of how this package is implemented and phased in.
Tom Franz: You have to separate the long-term from the short-term. In the long run what we want is to grow the economy, grow jobs, which by definition grows the tax base and allows us to provide services. That makes sense. The things in the long run we want to do I think are around economic development and a tax structure that promotes job growth because that helps the economy. The critics are talking about our here and now problem. In that case they are right in the sense that we can't afford to lose any revenue. In the long run though, you want to set it up so we are building new businesses and growing the economy. Because at the end of the day that's how we grow our way out of this.
Glenn Hamer: I just wanted to add, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we're the state affiliate for the National Association of manufactures, and the manufacturer’s council is deeply appreciative that this package puts real focus on the importance of manufacturing in our state’s economy. There's work to be done but there's excitement about where this measure could be going.
Ted Simons: I was going to say, it does seem to address these corporate issues. But it also calls for yet another individual income tax cut. I know Elliott Pollack did not mention that in his report, yet the speaker plan doesn’t include this. We’ve had a continually decline in income tax rates here in the states for 20 some on years. Is this the best time to go with that?
Glenn Hamer: Ted, it is accurate that in terms of individual income tax rates, Arizona is very competitive. I believe aside from the states that don’t have an individual income tax we may be number one on the list. I believe the reason why the speaker did that, it's something like 80% of the businesses that file under our tax code file under the portion of the code that is the individual income tax. I believe his thinking is that he wanted to put together a package that would be beneficial to businesses of every size.
Ted Simons: Education, the idea of getting a better educated workforce, we're going to talk a lot about this later on in tonight's program. What do you see the legislature doing, what would you like to see them do, especially with no money?
Tom Franz: There's a lot of things we can do in education that don't require money that reform the system one of the best things that's happened for the state is our race to the top application which went in this month. It actually brought together all the reform efforts that existed in the state, brought it under one umbrella, and kind of brought those pieces together so that we can try to implement a whole series of activities. There’s actually bills in the house and Senate working together to generate a bill to enable that legislation to go forward and put some pretty significant reforms in place. At the end of the day, what we've got to do is move towards having the education system focused on outcomes. What we care about as business is an educated workforce, an educated populace a system that delivers those people and can give a wide range of options for postsecondary education. Jobs in the state are going require postsecondary education. So we have to get kids out of high school and graduated and give them opportunities to get certificates and A.A. degrees, bachelor's degrees and PHD’s.
Ted Simons: And Glenn you've mentioned some of your quotes regarding promoting a globally competitive education and that great teachers are worth $100,000 a year. How do you get a $100,000 a year salaries when education is constantly being cut?
Glenn Hamer: Well, you want to create a compensation structure where you are rewarding the really good teachers. Obviously that means that funds would be cut from other areas. But I agree 100% with Tom. We're in a really good place in terms of education, and I give the administration and Aaron Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education a lot of credit for focusing on some of the elements that Arizona has really been a leader on. Such as school choice via charter schools.
Tom Franz: It has actually galvanized groups that didn't work together. This is a business, education, democrats, republicans, the republican administration here sending it to the Democratic Obama administration; it crosses those bounds and has brought a lot of very, very positive things together.
Glenn Hamer: It’s a Nixon goes to China moment when a democratic administration is saying we need to figure a way to measure teacher performance and we need figure out a way to inject more choice in terms of the schooling opportunities available to our kids.
Ted Simons: Let’s do a Nixon goes to Mexico for a moment here for a second, I know that you have some real problems with the idea of prosecutors being able to issue subpoenas to businesses that are being accused of or being investigated for hiring undocumented folks, this is making its way through the legislature, again, your thoughts, why are you against this?
Glenn Hamer: Ted, Arizona certainly does rank number one, we have the toughest employer sanctions law in the country. There's no reason in the world why we should be expanding that law to provide subpoena power. We believe that that's a really bad idea. There are investigations ongoing. The Maricopa County attorney has brought at least one case. The existing law is sufficient and the case hasn't been made that we need to expand it.
Ted Simons: Critics will say though the existing law is toothless and they do need this to get some “umph” behind the law.
Tom Franz: I'm in complete agreement with Glenn. I think it goes too far and is not necessary, and we need to use the law that we have. It is the toughest law I don't see any reason to go down that path.
Glenn Hamer: We have more companies in the state of Arizona that are using the E-verify program than any other state. Again, we've got the toughest law, companies are using the E-verify program. And this simply is unnecessary.
Ted Simons: Last question, real quickly. Clean elections?
Glenn Hamer: It's -- we have to stop publicly financing elections. At a time when we're cutting vital expenditures to the bone, the thought of subsidizing political campaigns is really wrong. We have to make sure that we get something on the ballot so we can reform the system.
Ted Simons: Do you agree with that? Especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that now kind of opens playing fields for businesses, corporations and unions.
Tom Franz: Sure it opens to have corporations and unions and everyone to have supposedly unlimited expenditures. But in the midst of a physical crisis when we're discussing cutting education, we’re discussing cutting our kindergarten class, we’re discussing raising the size of classrooms, and having more students in the classroom, we're going to finance elections? I'm sorry, as a taxpayer I don't think that's where I want my money going.
Ted Simons: All right, gentleman, thank you very much, great discussion.