Tuition And Housing Hikes Announced At Arizona’s Three Public Universities

Tuition And Housing Hikes Announced At Arizona’s Three Public Universities

By Terri Jo Neff |

Tuition for the next academic school year is going up at Arizona State University for all students, while tuition hikes at the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University will hit mostly new students, according to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR).

On Thursday, the ABOR which oversee the state’s three public universities announced higher tuitions and housing costs for residents and non-residents during the 2022-23 school year. All except the UofA will also be increasing the cost of student meal plans.

“The board recognizes any increase in tuition has an impact on Arizona students and families, but we are pleased that the presidents’ proposals included only modest added costs in 2022-23,” ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson said of the hikes. “The proposals demonstrate the joint commitment of the presidents to prioritize Arizona, access and quality while shielding resident students to the greatest extent possible from extraordinary inflationary cost pressures.”

The ABOR’s announcement means existing and new resident students at ASU will be paying 2.5 percent more than this year’s tuition. That works out to $10,978 for undergrads who are Arizona residents and $12,014 for graduate in-state resident students

ASU students who are not residents of Arizona will experience a 4 percent tuition hike, while the ABOR approved a 5 percent hike for international students at ASU. Online students registered at ASU will also notice a 2 percent increase in the cost of each credit hour.

At the UofA, resident students currently in the Guaranteed Tuition Program will not see tuitions go up, but incoming freshman and undergrads whose tuition is not guaranteed will pay $11,535 per year, a two percent increase. UofA grad students who are residents will pay $12,348, which is also up 2 percent.

Non-resident new students and non-resident existing students who are not in one of UofA’s guarantee tuition program  will see tuition rates jump 5.6 percent.  Different tuition rate increases are being implemented for the UofA’s College of Medicine and College of Veterinary Medicine students.

Meanwhile, incoming freshman and graduate students at NAU will be hit with a 3.5 percent tuition increase to $11,024 and $11,390 respectively. The rate boost applies to resident and non-resident students.

Undergraduate course fees at NAU will also be changing for the 2022-23 year. Meanwhile, international students at NAU will experience the biggest tuition hike among the three universities, with increases of 7.2 to 7.4 percent.

But that is not the only economic impact students at Arizona’s public universities will have to contend with for the 2022-23 school year.  The ABOR has upped its housing costs between 3 and 3.5 percent at all three universities.

Any students seeking to utilize a university’s meal plan will also have to fork over more money during the next school year. In addition, ABOR also boosted some mandatory student fees.

According to the ABOR, a person must be able to prove “continuous physical presence in Arizona for at least 12 months immediately preceding the semester of application” to be eligible for resident tuition.

Peoria Teacher: Elementary Students Wear Trans Pride Colors for Trans Visibility Day

Peoria Teacher: Elementary Students Wear Trans Pride Colors for Trans Visibility Day

By Corinne Murdock |

According to one Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) teacher, some elementary schoolers may have worn pink, teal, and white to honor International Transgender Day of Visibility last week. 

Coordinating educator Sarah Chunnui, a “resource teacher” for fourth and fifth graders and special education teacher at Desert Harbor Elementary School, submitted an email obtained by AZ Free News to notify staff of the unofficial holiday on March 31. A PUSD spokesperson told AZ Free News in a statement that Chunnui’s email didn’t receive approval from the Desert Harbor Elementary School principal, Becky Berhow, prior to its sending. PUSD added that Chunnui’s email didn’t say explicitly that she coordinated with students, but didn’t dismiss speculation that Chunnui may have undertaken coordination efforts.

“Hello Fabulous Staff,” began the email. “I just wanted to let you know that you may see our students wearing more pink, teal, and white today. Today is a quickly growing annual event called ‘International Transgender Day of Visibility.’ Our President is expected to make some announcements today on new legislature [sic] to protect the rights of Trans [sic] students, any [sic] many of our students have taken a keen interest in these legislative movements.”

Chunnui closed the email by encouraging staff to affirm the children of their activism.

“How can you help? If you notice a student purposefully wearing the colors of the trans flag, a simple ‘I see you’ or ‘I support you’ can go a long way. Thank you fabulous staff!” 

In the signature line, Chunnui ensured to include her pronouns: “she/her” and “they/them.” She also goes by “Mx,” a title invented by LGBTQ+ activists signifying a “gender-neutral” individual who doesn’t identify as any sex. 

In a response email submitted to the Desert Harbor Elementary School community, Berhow clarified that only staff received the email — not parents. Berhow characterized the email as Chunnui’s “personal views.”

“Today you may see a screenshot on social media of an email that was recently sent by one of our staff members regarding personal views on International Transgender Day of Visibility.  While the message may get increased attention in our community, it was important to me that you know that the email was only sent to our staff and not to students or parents,” wrote Berhow. “At Desert Harbor, we pride ourselves on using our limited resources to directly support teaching and learning. Please know that not all messages you see posted are a representation of our school or district.” 

Berhow encouraged parents to communicate with her and reach out with any questions on any matter. 

State Senator Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) told AZ Free News that this was another example of improper educator behavior.

“No level of sexuality or lifestyle should be pushed onto little children. I don’t care if they are pushing for heterosexuality. Leave our kids alone. Teach them math, reading, and science,” said Petersen. “These actions are completely inappropriate as someone who is in a position of trust with our children.” 

Previously, Chunnui was a resource teacher for kindergarteners to second grade students at Rogers Ranch School in Laveen School District, where Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen) hails from. Chunnui joined Desert Harbor Elementary School in August 2019; she has been teaching for over 10 years. 

AZ Free News reached out to Desert Harbor Elementary School and PUSD for comment.

In February, Chunnui hosted a read-aloud for Desert Harbor Elementary School, in which she read a book championed by left-wing activists as a destructor of gender norms: “Pink is For Boys.”

PUSD does have Gay-Straight Alliance, also known as Gender-Sexuality Alliance, (GSA) clubs at Sunrise Mountain High School, Ironwood High School, and Raymond S. Kellis High School. GSA clubs are the product of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national organization focused on the sexuality of minors — specifically, promoting and normalizing LGBTQ+ lifestyles. The Phoenix chapter of GLSEN advised K-12 educators last December to incorporate “secret libraries” in their classrooms to advance LGBTQ+ ideology. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Sued Over Exposing Greenburg Dossier, Parent Files Anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss

Sued Over Exposing Greenburg Dossier, Parent Files Anti-SLAPP Motion to Dismiss

By Corinne Murdock |

Nearly five months ago, a group of mothers publicized a Google Drive dossier on them and other parents perceived as political enemies, compiled by the father of their Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) board president, Jann-Michael Greenburg. The trove of political opposition research leaked by SUSD mother Amanda Wray quickly made international news, and became known as the “Greenburg Files,” or “Greenburg Dossier.” Jann-Michael’s father, Mark Greenburg, didn’t shy away from the uproar that ensued.

In January, Greenburg filed an initial complaint in the Maricopa County Superior Court against the Wrays for defamation, as well as violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Several weeks later, Greenburg amended his complaint to only sue for CFAA violations, striking all claims of defamation. Reporting on his lawsuit was featured in one place: the Arizona Republic, behind a subscriber-only paywall. In response, the Wrays issued a motion to dismiss, claiming that Greenburg had ulterior motives aligned with SLAPP behavior: “strategic lawsuits against public participation” to silence free speech.

A status conference is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:30 am. A scheduling conference is also scheduled for May 19 at 3 pm. The requested relief totals nearly $10,000. 

Greenburg is represented by attorney Christopher Rapp of Ryan Rapp Underwood & Pacheco. Amanda and Daniel Wray are represented by John Wilenchik of Wilenchik & Bartness and acclaimed GOP chairwoman and attorney Harmeet Dhillon with her law group. Judge Joan Sinclair is listed as hearing the case. 

Greenburg’s lawsuit characterized Amanda Wray as a “political operative,” pointing to the private Facebook group she organized, “SUSD-CAN,” short for “Scottsdale Unified School District Community Action Network,” a parent and community advocacy group concerning SUSD issues like masking, vaccinations, LGBTQ+, and critical race theory (CRT). He alleged that Wray stole his private information and documents by accessing the dossier, and that she doxxed him by publishing and discussing his home address, license plate, and Paycheck Protection Program loan information on the Facebook group page.

The lawsuit explained that Greenburg shared access to his server, or Google account on which the dossier was located, with three other individuals, one of whom he identified as his son, Jann-Michael. Greenburg insisted that the Google Drive dossier was otherwise password protected. He claimed that inadvertent public access to the dossier was granted through a setting unknown to him at the time enabling third parties to access the server without a password: the use of the Google Drive’s URL. Jann-Michael inadvertently shared that URL with SUSD parents in an emailed response to defamation accusations by including 13 screenshots of public Facebook comments stored within the dossier, one of which included the URL. 

“The situation was the equivalent of Plaintiff’s son accidentally disclosing his username and password,” read the complaint. 

Wray was accused of intentionally breaching the Google Drive dossier by using a third party to create a hyperlink with the inadvertently-shared URL. Greenburg also accused Wray of copying, deleting, adding, reorganizing, and renaming files on his server. He estimated that she caused him a loss amounting to at least $5,000. 

The Wrays’ motion to dismiss insisted that Greenburg failed to state a claim in which relief can be granted. They rejected claims that the Google Drive in question was made private, noting that Jann-Michael shared a publicly accessible URL that only needed to be typed into a web address bar to be accessed. They added that Daniel couldn’t be roped into the lawsuit because claims of “ratify[ing]” Amanda’s access to the dossier weren’t proof of liability. 

“Amanda cannot be liable for criminal ‘computer hacking’ just for clicking a hyperlink created by a third party (who is not a party to this action) to the URL for Greenburg’s Google Drive that Greenburg’s son published for anyone to see and use,” read the motion to dismiss.

In a follow-up reply to Greenburg’s response to their motion to dismiss, the Wrays’ attorneys again questioned his motives for suing after challenging the truthfulness of his claims. They characterized his lawsuit as a continuation of the dossier.

“This lawsuit is the latest, and hopefully last, chapter in Greenburg’s unlawful harassment and intimidation campaign against Ms. Wray and SUSD parents in retaliation for their advocacy regarding the SUSD school board,” wrote the Wrays’ attorneys. “[T]his lawsuit was brought to deter or prevent Ms. Wray from exercising her constitutional rights and right to petition [and] intended to harass and/or cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation[.]”

In mid-February, a third-party forensic investigation carried out by Loehrs Forensics determined that neither the SUSD email server or four personal computers issued by SUSD were used to create, access, modify, or share the Google Drive folder containing the dossier. 

Law enforcement cleared the Greenburgs of any wrongdoing. Scottsdale Police Department (SPD) determined in December the dossier didn’t violate any laws because it contained open source and public documents only. Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate nonetheless, positing that Jann-Michael may have conspired to wield his power over parents. AZ Free News inquired with Brnovich’s office if any DOJ investigation ever took place. They didn’t respond by press time. 

As AZ Free News reported, Jann-Michael admitted to having a history of sharing computers with his family members. He was also listed as one of the individuals who had editing access to the dossier.

The SUSD board voted to demote Jann-Michael from president to regular board member last November. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

University of Arizona Biology Department Head Pushed China’s COVID Origins Narrative

University of Arizona Biology Department Head Pushed China’s COVID Origins Narrative

By Corinne Murdock |

In February, leadership within the University of Arizona (UArizona) sciences published papers championing an old claim made by the Chinese government: that COVID-19 originated naturally at a Chinese wet market. Also behind those papers were researchers intimately steeped in government efforts to prove that COVID-19 didn’t leak from a lab whose research on coronaviruses was funded by the government — the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China. 

UArizona Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department Head Michael Worobey and PhD student Lorena Malpica Serrano co-authored two papers alongside 34 scientists to claim that COVID-19 came from two encounters with animals at a wet market. One of those scientists, virologist Robert Garry, was hand-selected by NIH director Francis Collins to dispute whistleblower research from summer 2021 that COVID-19 was engineered at the Wuhan Institute of Virology eight miles from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Another scientist, Netherlands molecular expert Marion Koopmans, served on the World Health Organization (WHO) mission in early 2021 to analyze the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan — a mission that concluded with a report blaming wet market animals that was fraught with errors, rejected by WHO leadership, haunted by claims of Chinese government interference, and ultimately walked back on by several mission members. 

Over the last year, Worobey has researched for a connection between COVID-19 and the Chinese wet market. Last March, Worobey teamed up with four other researchers to posit in a paper that COVID-19 wasn’t the first coronavirus outbreak among humans — three of those researchers, University of California in San Diego scientists Jonathan Pekar, Niema Moshiri, and Joel Wertheim joined him on the two papers published most recently. That paper claimed that an earlier variant successfully jumped from animals to humans between mid-October and mid-November of 2019. Worobey and his peers largely dismissed the notion that COVID-19 originated at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.

“The first described cluster of COVID-19 was associated with the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in late December 2019, and the earliest sequenced SARS-CoV-2 genomes came from this cluster,” read the report. “However, this market cluster is unlikely to have denoted the beginning of the pandemic, as COVID-19 cases from early December lacked connections to the market. The earliest such case in the scientific literature is from an individual retrospectively diagnosed on 1 December 2019. Notably, however, newspaper reports document retrospective COVID-19 diagnoses recorded by the Chinese government going back to 17 November 2019 in Hubei province. These reports detail daily retrospective COVID-19 diagnoses through the end of November, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 was actively circulating for at least a month before it was discovered.”

Then last November, eight months after the collaborative March paper, Worobey appeared to believe more greatly that the wet market was the origins for COVID-19. He published a solo paper examining available records to link the virus to the wet market. It appears that three months after that solo paper, less than a year after dismissing the notion that the wet market was the origin of COVID-19, Worobey and several of his colleagues came to completely flip on their prior findings.

Their latest paper was picked up by the New York Times as a feature story. The acclaimed preprint recounted how the scientists studied a plethora of data, including virus genes, market stall maps, and social media activity of the earliest COVID-19 patients following several weeks in 2019 at the Huanan wet market. However, the Times noted that the papers didn’t identify the market animal that spread COVID-19 to humans. 

In fact, no American or Chinese scientists were able to test the market animals claimed to be the cause of the COVID-19 outbreak; before anyone could, Chinese police shut down and disinfected the market. Only after Chinese police finished their work were scientists with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention able to come test the area. Since there were no market animals left, the researchers sampled market interiors and stray animals. That was in January 2020. The Chinese scientists sat on this collected evidence until several months ago, a day before Worobey’s report at the end of February. The Chinese government’s report conflicted with the Worobey papers, noting that the sampled animals were negative for the virus and that all evidence of COVID-19 was found in relation to human activity in the surrounding environment.

In the year prior to Worobey and his colleagues advancing the argument that COVID originated from the wet market, an outside researcher attempted to enlighten the conflicting narratives. This scientist claimed in a paper that the virus was engineered in a lab within miles of the wet market. 

As Vanity Fair reported, evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom authored his standalone paper after discovering the disappearance of several Chinese papers detailing several SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences. The sequences are like points on a sequential map, allowing scientists to track the origins and evolution of a virus. Bloom suspected that the Chinese government destroyed evidence of the genomic sequences because they engineered the COVID-19 virus. His further investigation caused him to believe that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) deleted evidence as well at the behest of the Chinese government. Bloom passed his findings laid out in the paper on to Dr. Anthony Fauci and Collins.

Bloom’s paper was with contention from outside experts brought forth by Collins in a meeting: an evolutionary biologist, Kristian Andersen, and the virologist involved in Worobey’s latest papers, Robert Garry. Andersen accused Bloom of unethical behavior for daring to investigate something that Chinese scientists deleted. Andersen insisted that the genomic sequences from Wuhan were of no concern. 

Fauci sided with Andersen. He vouched for the Chinese scientists’ integrity, noting that their reasons for deleting the sequences were unknown. Yet, both he and Collins didn’t agree with Andersen when he pressured Bloom to allow edits to his paper. 

As the Vanity Fair article outlined, Fauci and Collins had a vested interest to support the notions of natural transmission, not a lab leak, because of their relationship with EcoHealth Alliance — the nonprofit research organization that funded the coronavirus bat research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Emails obtained through public records requests revealed that EcoHealth Alliance CEO Peter Daszak thanked Fauci for dismissing lab leak theories, with Fauci responding in kind.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

House Democrats: Schools Don’t Need More Curriculum Transparency, Kids Should Transfer

House Democrats: Schools Don’t Need More Curriculum Transparency, Kids Should Transfer

By Corinne Murdock |

State Representatives Judy Schwiebert (D-Phoenix) and Jennifer Longdon (D-Phoenix) said during Monday’s House Appropriations Committee that schools don’t need curriculum transparency offered by SB1211, and that parents should switch schools instead.

In an exchange with Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg, Schwiebert insisted that parents should just use school choice if they disliked lack of curriculum transparency. 

“Arizona is a school choice state, correct?” asked Schwiebert. “Parents could choose to go to another school. That could be their recourse, correct?”

Beienburg said Schwiebert made a valid point that further strengthened his argument.

“That’s a great point and illustrates part of the problem,” responded Beienburg. “A parent shouldn’t have to have their child in a school, find material that is clearly not academically appropriate, and now be faced with a decision of grumbling to a school board who may or may not be sympathetic to them, or take their kid out of school, away from their friends and their established environment.”

When she voted against the bill, Schwiebert said that parents already have the opportunity to engage with teachers. She insinuated that the blame lay with parents for not doing more, claiming that many teachers sit without any visitors at events like parent-teacher conferences and meet-the-teacher nights. 

Longdon seconded Schwiebert’s argument, telling parents and legislators to utilize the school choice they championed before claiming that teachers have the “best interest” of their students at heart. She insisted the bill would stymie teachers’ improvisation efforts in class.

“So, I’ve heard a couple of things here. First off, when it was mentioned with this bill there was school choice, there was pushback against that. Although, when it’s been mentioned on other bills from folks who share my particular philosophy, we’re reminded we have school choice. So, I’ll put that out there. If you’re unhappy with the curriculum, school choice exists here in Arizona,” said Longdon. 

Longdon also contended with Beienburg’s citation of the 1619 Project used in schools without parents’ knowledge, reminding Chairwoman Regina Cobb (R-Kingman) that the committee agreed not to discuss critical race theory (CRT) during the hearing at all. 

Schwiebert’s recent stances on curriculum content may explain her stance against further transparency laws. Early last month, Schwiebert voted against two separate bills to ban divisive and adult content from K-12 curriculum: HB2112 concerning CRT and HB2495 concerning sexually explicit material. 

Schwiebert argued that CRT imparted on children lessons of honesty, integrity, and freedom to pursue their dreams.

“When we teach history, it’s not about assigning guilt or blame. It’s about teaching young people to think deeply and critically themselves so we don’t repeat the same mistakes,” said Schwiebert.

Other Democrats said that they supported curriculum transparency but disagreed with the bill’s approach. However, State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) challenged their claims, arguing that their description of transparency efforts as “meddling” proved their disingenuity. Hoffman also dispelled certain rumors presented by bill opponents, such as requiring teachers to photocopy documents. He noted that educators couldn’t be trusted on their own, citing his struggle as a school board member to get transparency from his district — in one case, he had to wait over 10 months for a contract.

“The bill is very clear. It requires you adding what those resources are to a list so that parents can be informed and so that parents have the ability to know what’s going on in their classrooms,” said Hoffman. “This system is not set up for parents to be informed or empowered beyond the cursory information that they are allowed to have. This bill empowers parents.”

State Representative Kelli Butler (D-Phoenix) claimed that curriculum transparency already exists, and characterized the bill as an “attack” on teachers. 

“We need to stop tying the hands of our wonderful, dedicated classroom teachers,” said Butler.

State Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) sponsored the bill; it passed out of the Senate along party lines several weeks ago, 16-13.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.