NAU Launches $2K ESG Climate Change Certification Program

NAU Launches $2K ESG Climate Change Certification Program

By Corinne Murdock |

Northern Arizona University (NAU) launched a climate change program geared toward a career focused on corporations’ Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) scoring. The program spans four courses, each costing $500 — $2,000 total. 

NAU announced the online, non-credit certificate program last week. The courses will prepare students for greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting. GHG is a key part of ESG. 

“[This will] help working professionals gain the skills needed to address climate change at the corporate or organizational level,” stated the press release.

In the program, students will quantify the greenhouse gas emissions from individual products or commodities, business or corporation operations, and local communities. Then, the students will propose and defend emission management, reduction, and mitigation strategies. 

NAU explained in its course description of the program that most large corporations were expanding GHG accounting hires at a rapidly multiplying pace. 

“Companies see aggressive emission reduction goals as good for business and a way to market themselves as climate-friendly. However, companies cannot manage what they don’t measure. Therefore, the need for skilled GHG accountants is growing exponentially,” stated NAU.

The university also pointed out that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed a rule change in March requiring all publicly traded companies to report their climate-related finance risk. 

The SEC rule would require companies to include these ESG findings in their registration statements and periodic reports. This would include governance and risk management processes of climate-related risks; the potential or current material impact of climate-related risks; the potential or current strategy, business model, and outlook impact of climate-related risks; and the impact of climate-related events on financials. It would also require disclosures of a GHG emissions target or goal, and GHG emissions from purchased electricity (or other energy forms) as well as upstream and downstream activities in its value chain.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler declared that mandatory ESG disclosure would better serve investors’ decision-making and hold corporations accountable. 

“I believe the SEC has a role to play when there’s this level of demand for consistent and comparable information that may affect financial performance,” said Gensler.

The timing of this course is significant, given that state leaders such as Treasurer Kimberly Yee oppose ESG. In September, Yee modified the state’s investment rules to prevent ESG ratings from investment considerations. 

NAU sustainability professor Deborah Huntzinger stated that environmental policymaking required quantifiable data that ESG approaches like GHG accounting offer. Huntzinger and NAU Online director of continuing education Brenda Sipe created the new GHG accounting program. 

“To design effective policies, whether at the corporate or national level, to mitigate rising emissions and human-driven climate change, we need to accurately track emissions,” stated Huntzinger. “Robust training in the best practices in GHG accounting will lead to a more educated workforce that can better inform corporate, organizational, community and national discussions about effective climate change mitigation strategies.”

Along with Huntzinger, carbon analyst Heather Aaron will teach the courses. 

The World Economic Forum (WEF), the globalist lobbying organization that serves as a pioneer for ESG scoring systems, identifies GHG accounting as a critical component of ESG. In a July publication, the WEF issued guidelines advising that GHG was key to quantifying the “carbon value” of corporations. 

The WEF, along with numerous powerful corporations and advocates of progressive reforms like ESG such as George Soros, BlackRock, Vanguard, JP Morgan Chase, Amazon, General Motors, the Sierra Club, issued comments or engaged in meetings with the SEC in support of the ESG mandate (though many offered suggestions for improvement).

NAU will also offer its GHG program at the graduate level, requiring students to complete a minimum of 12 credit hours. The regular course commences on Jan. 30 and remains open for six months of access.

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

High Demand For Skilled Labor Turns Focus To Non-College Education Options

High Demand For Skilled Labor Turns Focus To Non-College Education Options

By Terri Jo Neff |

In the last year, Arizona has added nearly 15,000 manufacturing jobs. But the demand for skilled workers to fill those jobs along with thousands of others across the state which require specialized training is drawing attention to the importance of ensuring students have access to trade or vocational schools.

The Imagine America Foundation (IAF) is focused on promoting the value of specialized career education and helping students get the hands-on training they need. One category the IAF concentrates on is the skilled trades, which includes a variety of occupations running the gamut from production, installation, maintenance, and repair.

“Because the world runs on machines and energy, those able to service them will always be in demand,” according to a recent IAF report titled Pandemic-Proof Careers in Skilled Trades. “Through economic downturns, pandemics, or other natural disasters, keeping these pieces moving will always be crucial to keeping society moving.”

The growth in demand for skilled trade jobs across Arizona is being powered by emerging technologies, a concerted effort by Gov. Doug Ducey to attract certain industries, and an aging workforce set to retire in the next few years.

“For young people deciding on a career or those looking to make a career change that better aligns with the stability, demand, flexibility, and ROI they seek, this growth comes at the perfect time,” the IAF report notes.

IAE recently highlighted several “hot emerging skilled trades” which can offer a more pandemic-proof career. Those jobs include:

  • Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanic / technician
  • Electrician
  • Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanic / installer
  • Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician
  • Industrial machinery mechanic, machinery maintenance, or millwright
  • Machinist or tool and die maker
  • Medical equipment repairer
  • Solar photovoltaic installer
  • Welder
  • Wind turbine service technician

Scholarships and other tuition assistance for vocational and trade schools has also become more common in the last few years, with the Arizona Community Foundation leading the way away from a college-only mindset.

That example is now being followed by one of Cochise County’s largest employers, which has created a new scholarship for high school seniors interested in obtaining the training needed for a skilled trade job.

The program announced last month by Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (SSVEC) Foundation will award $4,000 to five students who plan to attend a trade school, skilled job training program, or apprentice program in 2023 instead of seeking a traditional higher education degree.

“Our Directors recognized the importance of encouraging, and providing resources, to students who plan to attend a trade school or certified program rather than a degree from a college or university,” said Marcus Harston, SSVEC’s Community Relations Manager.

More information on the SSVEC Foundation Trade Scholarship Program is available here.

Some companies across Arizona are getting even more involved in training the new employees they need. Several, including Boeing and Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., are now working directly with educational institutions to ensure a quality workforce.

For instance, Gulfstream has partnered with Arizona State University and Chandler-Gilbert Community College to turn out maintenance specialists for the company’s fleet of luxury jets.

In addition, the Governor’s Office recently featured Prescott-based CP Technologies which has joined forces with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Yavapai College to train and hire upwards of 200 employees.

Another example is battery manufacturer KORE Power, which is working with Rio Salado College and West-MEC to facilitate training for the advanced manufacturing workers needed at the company’s Buckeye facility.

And Boeing has partnered with Mesa Community College to offer a boot camp for students interested in various electrical wiring technician jobs. Since 2019, more than 350 students have graduated from the boot camp with over 200 getting hired at Boeing, according to the Governor’s Office.

Terri Jo Neff is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or send her news tips here.

ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

ASU, NAU, UArizona Presidents Salaries, Bonuses Total Over $2.4 Million

By Corinne Murdock |

Last week, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) approved over $2.4 million in salaries and bonuses for all three presidents of the state’s public universities — making them among the highest paid public employees in the state.

Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow received a pay raise of over $38,500, bringing his base salary to over $809,800, as well as a $90,000 bonus. Crow also receives perks: housing, a vehicle allowance, and retirement contributions. ABOR extended his contract through June 2027. 

Northern Arizona University (NAU) President José Luis Cruz Rivera received the largest pay raise of $61,800, bringing his base salary to $576,800, as well as a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025. 

University of Arizona (UArizona) President Robert Robbins received a pay raise of over $37,700, bringing his base salary to over $792,200. Robbins also received a $75,000 bonus. ABOR extended his contract through June 2025 as well. 

The three presidents’ bonuses were contingent on the achievement of various at-risk goals. 

Crow met all three at-risk goals: a strategy to address educational gaps in the state, a plan for the launch of at least one of the five Future Science and Technology Centers in the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and clarifying and documenting the expectations for relationships among ASU’s Teaching, Learning, and Knowledge Enterprises.

For Crow, an additional $150,000 in at-risk compensation goals were proposed for next year, each worth $50,000 if met: design and launch a premium brand for ASU online; develop and launch a plan to move the three core brands of the W.P. Carey School of Business, the Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the Barrett Honors College into three global brands; and design and launch a new Health Futures Strategy that includes a holistic approach around health sciences and launch preparations for the Public Health Technology School. 

Crow also has five at-risk compensation goals through 2024 worth an additional $160,000. These goals will require Crow to demonstrate increased enrollment and student success in adaptive learning courses by offering over 15 courses, with an increase in overall course completion to over 80 percent; increase enrollment of Arizona students and number of graduates by over 10 percent; complete the design of the Global Futures Library with engagement of over 700 faculty members, as well as merge the three schools of the College of Global Futures; build and document enhanced regional collaboration in research; and demonstrate substantial expansion of ASU Digital Prep to at least 150 in-state schools, predominantly rural and underperforming schools.

Cruz Rivera also had three at-risk goals, which he met: a leadership team for NAU, restructured pricing and financial aid along with marketing and recruiting, and a set of goals and objectives to rebrand NAU.

For the upcoming year, Cruz Rivera has $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals aligned with the rebranding and restructuring efforts at NAU, each worth $45,000. Cruz Rivera must develop and implement a “New NAU System” to encompass in-person, online, and hybrid learning modalities, branch campuses, community college partnerships, and engagement with the state’s K-12 system. Cruz Rivera must also transform NAU Online, as well as increase enrollments and enhance career preparation opportunities.

Through 2024, Cruz Rivera is tasked with $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals, each worth $30,000. Cruz Rivera must expand the number of students from working-class families, increase overall graduation rates, and narrow completion gaps for working-class, first-generation, and minority groups; expand the Allied Health Programs and traditional NAU programs into Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma counties as well as distributed learning centers outside these three counties; and increase NAU profile, visibility, and programs for both Latino and Native American communities throughout the state and nationwide.

Robbins also met his three at-risk goals for this year: a new budget model that reduced college and department overhead costs by at least $10 million, a strategy to raise attainment in southern Arizona, and progress toward creating a Center for Advanced Immunology at the PBC.

In the coming year, Robbins faces $135,000 in at-risk compensation goals: secure at least $200 million in initial funding commitment from the state, local government, or private donors by next June for the Center for Advanced Molecular Immunotherapies; develop a plan to centralize responsibility and balance local authority in the university-wide administrative functional areas of Information Technology and Financial and Business Services by next June; and complete the transition of the UArizona Global Campus as an affiliated partner to its final stage under the full authority and oversight of UArizona by next June. 

Then, Robbins faces $120,000 in at-risk compensation goals through the end of 2024: increasing retention by 85.5 percent; leveraging the Washington office of UArizona to increase federal research funding by 10 percent; progressing toward enhancing student experience and outcomes of the UArizona Global Campus; implementing an Information Technology security governance framework; and coordinating a collaborative relationship with ASU and NAU that raises the research potential of the UArizona College of Medicine Phoenix. 

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

Mom Who Fought For Arizona’s Universal School Choice Named Its Executive Director

Mom Who Fought For Arizona’s Universal School Choice Named Its Executive Director

By Corinne Murdock |

One mother who fought to defend universal school choice in Arizona will serve as its executive director.

On Thursday, Christine Accurso announced that Superintendent-elect Tom Horne asked her to serve as the executive director for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program. Accurso, a beneficiary of the ESA Program, said that she would do everything in her power to protect school choice.

“Families deserve educational choice to help shape and mold the futures of their precious children,” stated Accurso.

Accurso led the Decline to Sign movement, which opposed Save Our Schools Arizona’s (SOSAZ) ballot initiative earlier this year to overturn universal school choice. 

Not only has Accurso been an advocate for expanding school choice, she’s been a watchdog for the movement.

Accurso discovered that SOSAZ far overestimated their signature numbers when they turned in their signature sheets for the ballot initiative. She raised awareness of the signature shortage, urging the secretary of state’s office to expedite verification of the signature count rather than waiting the 20-day period allowed by state law. Several days after Accurso and other parents petitioned the secretary of state’s office, they confirmed that the petition lacked enough signatures. 

Accurso also publicized recent issues with the ESA Program helpline as parents attempted to join the newly-expanded program. The phone line was busy nonstop, and would hang up on parents without the promise of a call back or an option to leave a message. 

School choice was one of the issues that defined the midterm election. Where some Republicans lost in other contested races by thousands of votes or continue to await final ballot batches to determine the winner, Horne prevailed.

Horne managed a victory over Democratic incumbent Kathy Hoffman, earning 50 percent of the vote to Hoffman’s 49 percent — just over 9,300 votes. 

Hoffman conceded on Thursday, shortly before Horne tapped Accurso to lead the ESA Program. 

Horne ran against Critical Race Theory (CRT), ethnic studies, and bilingual rather than immersive education. Horne advocated for in-person learning, standardized testing for graduating seniors, state takeover of failing schools, and full in-state scholarships for those who exceed state testing.

Hoffman ran against school choice expansion and bans on CRT tenets in education. She advocated for reducing class sizes, increasing teacher pay, increasing mental health funds for students, and increasing internet access for students.

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

Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

Conservative Parents Find Hope In Superintendent and School Board Races

By Loretta Hunnicutt |

From the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to local school board positions, several conservatives are currently leading or have already won key races on the education front in the 2022 General Election.

As of press time, Republican candidate for SPI Tom Horne had increased his lead in his challenge of incumbent Kathy Hoffman. Horne previously served as SPI from 2003 to 2011, prior to successfully running for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. If the results hold up, Horne says his focus as SPI will be on improving student performance and eradicating Critical Race Theory-based curriculum from Arizona’s public schools.

In the Peoria Unified School District race, Heather Rooks won a hard-fought and challenging race. Her efforts to expose the Social Emotional Learning-based policies and practices in the district eventually led her to request an injunction against an activist parent. As reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, Rooks, a mother of four school-aged children, obtained the injunction based on threats from Democrat activist, Josh Gray.

Two other conservative candidates, Amy Carney and Carine Werner, secured seats on the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board. Their victories serve as a powerful repudiation of out-going Governing Board Member Jann-Michael Greenburg. Greenburg was sued by parents who accused him of trying to silence them after they exposed his secret Google Drive dossier on them. As AZ Free News reported in April, that dossier included a trove of political opposition research on parents, who opposed the district’s adoption of Social Emotional Learning and Critical Race Theory.

In the race for Flowing Wells School District Governing Board—an area known for being blue—conservative Brianna Hernandez Hamilton is currently holding on to one of two open spots. A mother of three very young children, Hernandez Hamilton ran with the slogan: “Parents + Teachers = Quality Education.”

Kurt Rohrs, a long-time education activist and frequent contributor to AZ Free News, won a spot on the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board. Rohrs, like Horne, focused on improving student performance and eliminating the divisive Critical Race Theory from the district’s curriculum. Many see Rohrs’ presence on the board as an opportunity to restore calm to the district which had become the center of controversy thanks to out-going board member Lindsay Love.

In the race for Dysart Unified School District Governing Board, conservative Dawn Densmore was retained by voters. As current president of the board, Densmore successfully led the fight to end the district’s relationship with the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA). Jennifer Drake also won a seat on the board.

Sandra Christensen is set to win a seat on the Paradise Valley Unified School District Governing Board. Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid are in the lead for spots in Fountain Hills. Paul Carver should take a win in Deer Valley. Jackie Ulmer appears to have been successful in Cave Creek as well as Rachel Walden in Mesa and Chad Thompson in Gilbert. In the Higley Unified School District, conservative Anna Van Hoek also won a seat on the board.

In a tweet from earlier this week, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos summed up what many parents have been feeling over the past few years – left out. In response to the National Education Association’s claim that teachers “know better than anyone” what students need in the classroom, DeVos responded, “You misspelled parents.” 

Lake Havasu Teacher Couple Resign, Fired For Filming Porn in Classroom

Lake Havasu Teacher Couple Resign, Fired For Filming Porn in Classroom

By Corinne Murdock |

A Lake Havasu Unified School District (LHUSD) husband and wife teacher duo became unemployed earlier this month for a porn video filmed in a classroom outside of school hours.

Samantha Peer, who went by the porn alias Khloe Karter, taught eighth grade science at Thunderbolt Middle School. Her husband, Dillon, was a fourth-grade teacher at Nautilus Elementary School. In a “statement” video, Peer blamed low teacher pay for her filming pornography and other explicit content. LHUSD hired Peer in January, paying her a salary over $18,000; the district hired her husband in August on a $31,000 salary.

Peer claimed that she was denied salary increases despite qualifying for them over the course of five years, and her family couldn’t survive on her and her husband’s income alone. Nowhere in the video did she apologize. 

“My children are the most important thing to me, and I’m already spending countless hours outside of my contract time on extra school activities and I don’t think it’s fair that I have to sacrifice my own children’s time because our professional salary did not pay enough,” said Peer. “I created the content at the beginning of the summer in order to earn extra money on the side in order to pay for our basic necessities that our salaries were no longer meeting.”

Peer took on the extra positions in August and September, months after she began her porn side hustle. Peer reported in the video that she advised the yearbook club and STEM club, as well as mentored new teachers. Peer received a $500 stipend for advising the yearbook club and $800 for mentoring the teachers. LHUSD documentation didn’t reflect Peer advising the STEM club.

LHUSD documents also reveal that Peer’s husband, Dillon, received nearly $1,000 in an educator induction grant in mid-August. 

Peer didn’t teach at LHUSD for a consecutive five years. After her fourth year at Thunderbolt Middle School, Peer took a two-year hiatus beginning in 2020 to teach in Houston, Texas. Peer was a science teacher at Dekaney High School at Spring Independent School District.

Peer also claimed that her gym terminated her membership due to harassment from those who’d seen her content. Peer featured her former gym in some of her explicit alias accounts.

“The gym owner chose to terminate my membership although I’d been a member for four years because other juvenile members were harassing me by taking my picture and videotaping me while I was trying to work out,” stated Peer.

Peer hasn’t deleted her explicit social media accounts; she advertises them publicly across both her personal and alias accounts. TikTok did ban her porn alias account earlier this week, but Peer created a new account. Peer also has a public Instagram account for her porn alias featuring her workouts, as well as a Linktree featuring links to her other explicit social media accounts like Reddit as well as a link to her sex toy and lingerie wish list. 

After she was fired, Peer posted a TikTok mocking parents upset by her content. 

“When they judge you for having a spicy account, but it pays more than your vanilla job,” stated Peer.

Her first TikTok video posted October 10 depicts her lip-syncing about how she’s crazy.

“You call me crazy like I didn’t warn you. Yeah, did you think I was just joking? Did you think I was just playing around? No, honey. We’re not well,” mouthed Peer.

In a TikTok lip-sync video posted October 26, Peer stated she would cause problems on purpose for not getting enough attention. This was two days after LHUSD placed Peer on paid administrative leave and probation pending investigation, following a community member filing a complaint about her explicit social media accounts.

“In response to not getting the attention I deserve, I’ve decided I will cause problems on purpose,” mouthed Peer. 

Watch Peer’s video here:

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