Teachers’ Unions Are Radicalizing Not Educating

Teachers’ Unions Are Radicalizing Not Educating

It is well known that America’s schoolchildren are woefully ignorant of their national history and government. Majorities of young adults no longer feel grateful to be an American, undoubtedly because they fail to comprehend the precious freedoms to which they were born.

So are the teachers unions who educate our children concerned about this deplorable situation? Do they have a plan to correct it? You know the answer.

Instead, the National Education Association recently voted to ensure that all American school children are comprehensively taught Critical Race Theory. This is the unscientific notion that white people are inherently, incorrigibly racist and thus America’s foundational values were and are bigotry and racial oppression.

As the NEA puts it, “all K – 12 schools should teach children that White supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-indigenity, racism, patriarchy, capitalism, and anthropocentrism form the foundation of our society“. Furthermore “to deny opportunities to teach truth about Black,  Brown and other marginal races minimizes the necessity for students to build efficacy.”

Not sure what that last means, but basically nobody is trying to prevent teaching about slavery, Jim Crow or the struggles racial minorities have faced. It should be balanced with the recognition that America has come a long way in correcting injustices and that there are boundless reasons to feel pride and love for our country.

The NEA means business. They’re allocating a $70,000 addition to normal operating funds to push CRT.  More ominously, they are funding an “opposition research” effort meant to smear parents and organizations opposed to racist propagandizing of their children. Charming.

These same unions also spearheaded the effort to keep schools closed long after it was known that school children were neither the victims nor spreaders of serious Covid disease. They demanded political favors, like forcing private schools to also close and limiting new charter schools, as the ransom for their return to the work they were being paid to do. Some schools are not open even yet.

The results of their mulish selfishness are trickling in. It’s bad. Students in every grade are failing classes and falling behind.

Preliminary research suggests that students will return with less than 50% of normal learning gains in math and under 70% in other subjects. Since these are averages, disadvantaged and disabled learners will fare even worse. Catching up this much academically is difficult, if not impossible. It will take years, if ever, to undo the damage.

Meanwhile, our nation’s teachers’ unions are doubling down on the effort to turn public schools into centers for radical indoctrination. History is now taught as the ceaseless struggle between oppressors and victims. A substitution of “race” for “class“ is the only deviation from classical Marxist theory.

Students in biology are taught that gender is merely a social construct and that they are free to select theirs “don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”  Math instruction is threatened by “social justice” warriors who deem requiring one correct answer and showing your work to be “white.“

Great literary works are being culled, and our history obliterated, for lack of adherence to modern standards of political correctness. Shakespeare and Steinbeck are among those facing permanent removal.

Some teachers are refusing to teach “To Kill a Mockingbird” because of racist language and the depiction of a “white savior.”  That’s rich. Arguably the most influential anti-racist novel of modern times is shunned because Atticus is a decent white man who helps blacks and that doesn’t fit CRT’s malignant stereotypes.

In a few months, they’ve gone from claiming CRT  isn’t taught in K-12 to insisting that instruction must be universal. Fortunately, grassroots and parent groups are waking up and fighting back. They should consider resisting not only objectionable courses of instruction, but the politicized education system that creates them.

Clear majorities, Including 75% to 85% of minority parents, favor charter schools and other forms of school choice. Yet there is stiff political resistance to reforms like Educational Savings Accounts, which empower parents.  Arizona’s legislative Democrats this session voted unanimously to deny parents these options, thus denying them leverage in their dealings with unresponsive unions and schools.

So is public education meant to benefit the big people or the little people?

Professor’s Underwater Tent Invention To Appear On Shark Week

Professor’s Underwater Tent Invention To Appear On Shark Week

An underwater tent co-invented by a University of Arizona professor will be featured during the Discovery Channel’s popular Shark Week this month.

Dubbed the Ocean Space Habitat, the portable inflatable tent allows occupants to essentially camp out underwater. Co-invented by UArizona professor Winslow Burleson and professional diver Michael Lombardi, the tent will be featured in the episode “The Great Hammerhead Stakeout,” which airs July 18 on Discovery+.

Burleson is a professor and director of research for the School of Information in the UArizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and has a joint appointment in the university’s Health Sciences Design Program. Burleson, who is also a member of the university’s BIO5 Institute, helped develop the technology for the tent when he was a professor at New York University.

“(The University of Arizona’s) Ocean Space Habit research collaborations are expanding what is possible and feasible in a broad range of underwater environments, ranging from coral reefs studies and novel fisheries to human robot collaborative teams and planetary analogue missions,” Burleson said. “Airing first-of-its-kind hammerhead research on Shark Week is certainly one of the highlights to date.”

The tent provides a relatively dry and protected space underwater for divers to enter, remove their equipment and carry out tasks before returning to the surface. The high-tech habitat provides a place for deep sea divers to decompress after deep scientific dives and for medical treatments to be administered for decompression sickness in remote locations. It also gives divers the ability to engage in long-term observations of wildlife behavior and to conduct science experiments before surfacing. The tent system is highly portable and can provide adequate life support to two occupants through an overnight stay.

Multiple experimental deployments of the tent have occurred since 2011, and the platform is now emerging as a viable scientific tool.

“The underwater value is analogous to a backpacking excursion – we certainly learn more from an overnight in the environment than a short walk in the park. That step has not yet been taken in the underwater world in an affordable and accessible way for the masses,” Lombardi said.

Burleson is a social inventor with expertise in human computer interaction and the learning sciences. He previously served as principal investigator for the NSF Experiential Supercomputing: A Transdisciplinary Research and Innovation Holodeck grant. He has authored more than 100 scholarly articles, holds 11 patents and twice received Time magazine’s Top Inventions of the Year Awards.

$101.1M Invested In ‘Visit Arizona Initiative’ To Boost Tourism

$101.1M Invested In ‘Visit Arizona Initiative’ To Boost Tourism

Governor Doug Ducey this week announced $101.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to launch the Visit Arizona Initiative, a bold program designed to increase visitation and tourism spending in Arizona, bolster job creation and accelerate economic recovery.

“Tourism is essential for Arizona’s booming economy and job growth,” said Governor Ducey. “When visitors from across the globe travel to our great state, they stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, buy our products and enjoy our recreational activities. Their investments benefit Arizonans, and the Visit Arizona Initiative will help our tourism sector prosper — and continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic. My thanks goes to Arizona Office of Tourism Director Debbie Johnson for her dedication to growing tourism throughout the state and supporting Arizonans employed by the travel industry.”

As it did globally, the tourism industry in Arizona endured losses in visitation, visitor spending, tourism tax revenue and employment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of federal American Rescue Plan money will assist communities across the state in recovery through tourism marketing, event and attraction support, and outdoor recreation revitalization.

Arizona’s 2020 overnight visitation decreased by 31 percent and visitor spending decreased by 41 percent compared to 2019 numbers, according to recent data. But with this investment and the effectiveness of Arizona’s visitor marketing, Arizona will stay top of mind for travelers.

“Thousands of Arizonans who work in the tourism industry were displaced due to the pandemic. Now that our economy is strong, jobs are readily available and visitors are coming to our beautiful state, we are making sure employment opportunities continue to grow for hard workers across Arizona,” the Governor said.

The Visit Arizona Initiative includes marketing funding for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) statewide, reinvigorating local community programs and events, and marketing support for domestic and international flights and outdoor recreation.

“We are grateful for the investment Governor Ducey is making in our state’s tourism industry, which contributes to the economic vitality of communities and people all across Arizona,” said Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

The new funding is being warmly received by officials in communities all across Arizona where tourism is an important part of the economy.

“Arizona is a world-class destination and is ready to welcome visitors from around the world to explore our great state. The tourism recovery fund is an investment in a vital economic driver and will benefit all areas of the state,” said Cal Sheehy, Mayor of Lake Havasu City. “We applaud Governor Ducey’s commitment to the tourism economy statewide.”

The Initiative also provides funding to the Arizona State Parks & Trails for park revitalization and improvement, legacy golf course revitalization, the Arizona State Fair for marketing, the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association for a workforce initiative and Local First for rural destination development.

“COVID-19 had multiple impacts on our state’s destinations,” said Bill Nassikas, President & COO of Westroc Hospitality. “This funding comes at a crucial time of our recovery, as we reinvigorate Arizona’s tourism economy and welcome back visitors to our great state. Governor Ducey’s forethought will help keep Arizona tourism competitive on the national stage.”

AOT, along with statewide tourism stakeholders, continues to promote visitation and support industry recovery across Arizona. These efforts include visitor marketing campaigns, supporting industry partners and communities with strategic recovery planning and promoting sustainable and responsible tourism. The new Visit Arizona Initiative will ensure these programs continue and grow to meet the needs of the industry.

Free Enterprise Club Announces 2021 Legislative Scorecards

Free Enterprise Club Announces 2021 Legislative Scorecards

The Club’s 2021 legislative scorecard (View House of Representatives and Senate Scorecards) included a thorough review of over 25 key bills, legislative actions and votes taken by lawmakers this session with an emphasis on the Club’s supported or opposed bills. The methodology included other issues important to our grassroots activists such as addressing regulatory relief and ongoing government overreach from the covid-19 pandemic, banning critical race theory in our taxpayer-funded institutions and school choice.

Issues weighed heavily in the scorecard included bills relating to income tax policy and election integrity, both of which were the two main planks of the Club’s agenda for 2021.

In January, the Club began advocating for a major tax cut proposal. Our guidelines were simple, the tax cut must amass to at least $1Billion, it must deal with and offset completely the disastrous impacts of Prop 208, and it must not include any special interest tax carveouts.

Not all legislation was weighted equally but ranked by Club priority. Highly prioritized issues included votes on special interest tax carveout programs, as these are often “truth-test” issues that separate the stalwart conservatives and the lawmakers highly influenced by special interest lobbyists. Club President Scot Mussi expounded, “Our organization was founded to fight for the taxpayer of Arizona. The ability for ‘woke’ corporations to secure major tax carveouts, in some instances zeroing out all tax liability, is a serious threat to a broad-based, low-tax environment for every Arizona family and small business. Our lawmakers shouldn’t be picking winners and losers but representing all Arizona taxpayers.”

Ultimately, several bills became the focus of these efforts and were included in the methodology of the 2021 legislative scorecard. The tax policy bills weighed most significantly in the scorecard included:

  • SB1783: (alternative small business tax) establishes an optional alternative small business tax in Arizona that allows business owners to separate wage income from business income when filing and paying their taxes. This bill helped clarify those successful small businesses in the state would not be subject to the Prop 208 surcharge and fulfilled the Club’s goal of offsetting the otherwise irreversible damage of Prop 208.
  • SB1828/HB2900 (tax omnibus) & SB1827/HB2899 (Revenue; Budget Reconciliation) included a $1.7B tax cut for all taxpayers by ultimately streamlining Arizona’s income tax rates to 2.5% and an effective marginal rate of 4.5% at the top. These bills fulfilled the Club’s goal of cutting taxes by at least $1B and helped to offset the damage of Prop 208 by setting a cap on how much any Arizonan could pay in income taxes in the state at 4.5%.
  • SB1124 (Contributions in aid of construction) This bill was amended to include two programs the Club has opposed for years – the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and Angel Investors Tax Credit. The combined $185 Million in tax carveouts for wealthy investors, developers and banks included in the two programs are obstacles to good tax reforms that benefit all and only get traction at the legislature because of special interest lobbyists.

Also included in the Club’s legislative priorities were several bills dealing with election integrity. Despite dozens of bills being introduced, five election integrity bills were included in the scorecard. Three of these bills were top Club issues the entire session:

  • SB1485 (early voting list; eligibility) Ensures Arizona’s early voters list remains clean and current by implementing a process for removing names of individuals who perpetually do not vote by early mail-in ballot.
  • SB1713 (mailing; early ballots; identification) Requires a voter who chooses to vote early by mail to provide their birthday as well as another form of identification such as driver’s license number or social security number.
  • HB2569 (elections; private funding; prohibition) Prohibits outside interests from financing the administration of elections by providing grants to government agencies for the implementation of an election including voter registration.

Aside from weighing over 25 key legislative votes, the Club also included discretionary points for certain members which either added or subtracted to their overall score. This inclusion is important as it is often difficult to assess a member’s performance solely based upon their votes. Other criteria used for qualitative points were whether they sponsored particularly bad legislation even if it did not receive a full vote of the body, if they were an obstacle to key caucus or Club issues even if they ultimately voted the “right” way, or if they were responsible for killing key reforms and stalled their advancement to a floor vote.

Given the rigorous criteria in the Club’s 2021 scorecard, the top performing legislators distinguish themselves as faithful conservatives in the caucus. These members consistently fight for limited government, free market principles, low, smart and fair taxes, and individual liberties. The Club Top performers in the Legislature who have earned an A+ in 2021 included:

  • Senator Warren Petersen (LD 12)
  • Senator J.D. Mesnard (LD 17)
  • Rep. Jacqueline Parker (LD 16)
  • Rep. Jake Hoffman (LD 12)
  • Rep. John Fillmore (LD 16)
  • Rep. Joseph Chaplik (LD 23)
  • Rep. Shawnna Bolick (LD 20)
  • Rep. Travis Grantham (LD 12)
  • Rep. Beverly Pingerelli (LD 21)
  • Rep. Bret Roberts (LD 11)
  • Rep. Gail Griffin (LD 14)
  • Rep. Judy Burges (LD 1)

Methodology for Senate Scorecard

Methodology for House Scorecard

Catalina Foothills, Peoria Unified Warned Covid-19 Quarantine Policies Unlawful

Catalina Foothills, Peoria Unified Warned Covid-19 Quarantine Policies Unlawful

On Wednesday, the Governor’s Office notified the superintendents of Peoria Unified School District and Catalina Foothills School District that their policies requiring quarantine for unvaccinated students who have been exposed to COVID-19 are illegal.

The letter from the governor’s education policy advisor, Kaitlin Harrier, to the schools says requiring unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 to isolate for 14 days is discriminatory. Vaccinated students are exempt from this requirement according to the districts’ policies.

The Governor’s Office says that’s against the law because a school district or charter school can’t “require a student or teacher to get the COVID-19 vaccine or wear a face mask to participate in in-person instruction.”

In her letter to the Peoria Unified School District, Harrier cited the district’s policy of keeping students out of the classroom for 14 days would have detrimental effects on their education and could even keep students from meeting attendance requirements to advance to the next grade level.

“This policy must be rescinded immediately,” Harrier wrote in the letter.