Devastating. That’s how it felt earlier this week when the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s ruling in Arizona School Boards Association v. State of Arizona. This decision strikes down critical reforms contained in a series of Budget Reconciliation Bills passed by lawmakers and signed by Governor Ducey earlier this year.
Aside from the notable lost learning associated with masks among early readers, and the irritability masks foster, the most common criticism I hear from parents is that the masking policies are selectively applied and enforced.
The biggest disparity in the application and enforcement of masking policy appears to be between younger and older students. While younger students are statistically less likely to carry and spread Covid-19, the mandatory masking anecdotally is more strictly enforced in the younger age groups.
This disparity in treatment between different ages of students is obviously not based on the science of contagion and transmissibility. Yet, despite the fact that we have some of the best minds studying infectious disease and months of accumulated data about COVID-19 upon which to create strategies to address this pandemic and develop sound policies to ensure acceptance of them, we still insist on imposing scientifically baseless mandates.
Worse yet, as previously noted, the mandates are disparately enforced in our schools.
How can we explain this phenomenon? Is it a result of something as innocent as a misunderstanding of the science, or something more insidious?
That disregard could stem from a bevy of malfeasant managers or politically motivated praxis pushed out by our colleges of education.
Too often we see overcrowded classrooms filled with teachers who have been denied basic training in classroom management by administrators who prefer to spend money on the training of failed restorative practices because the purveyors of such practices offer their trainings in more desirable destinations. On the other hand, too many teachers display co-dependent tendencies that compel them to control every aspect of their students’ behavior.
Unfortunately, because the largest teachers’ union, under the management of Randi Weingarten, a childless bully who has not spent any considerable time with third graders this century, is pushing masks, one might safely assume that the mandate is more political than anything else.
Still, what could make the average human being who selflessly serves society by training our youth to go along with the unions’ demands and so heartlessly impose such demeaning measures? I believe it could be a result of something that has evolved naturally in the K-12 setting over decades; a loss of regard for the individual.
Years ago, while taking a deep dive in the Critical Race Theory-based curriculum offered in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), we discovered the systematic effort to erase individual identity. Children at an early age were stripped of their individuality through a series of exercises intended to groom them as foot soldiers from a radical cause.
Rather than address children by their given names, they were referred to as “mija” and “mijo.” The patronizing practice left children feeling small, defenseless, but cared for. The children were then encouraged to repeat a pledge of allegiance similar to the message a sexual predator would send to a child: if you hurt me by telling our little secret, you will hurt yourself more.
We have seen a reference to that pledge, In Lak Ech, plainly in Corwin’s Deep Equity program. However, that type of secret bonding is materializing in more subtle ways as Critical Race Theory-based curriculum is adopted for K-12 classrooms.
While I am not suggesting that those who are adamant about masking mandates are driven by a desire to build through problematization an angry army as the teachers were in TUSD, that is exactly what they might be doing.
They certainly have created an army of concerned parents. Parents are concerned about learning loss, the undermining of their authority, the arbitrary and capricious nature of quarantines, and the insistence that merit-based advancement is racist.
We have all seen the justifiable anger in our schoolboard meetings as parents fight desperately to stop the indoctrination of their children or the passage of pandemic-related policies that have zero foundation in science while sending families’ routines into chaos.
That chaos has created the need for more daycare providers, or left one parent out of a job, plunging families further into financial hardship and creating more victims of poverty.
As for young students, masking has a deleterious effect on language learning and as we know, language is our identity. As a result, the benefits of masking are far outweighed by the risks to young children. It is therefore imperative, that we step back and rethink the masking mandates in K-12.
Even if we are to ascribe the best motives to those who crafted the current policies, we are still obligated to reassess the situation and craft policies going forward that are neither influenced by politics or fake science.
Third graders cannot stay in third grade until we finally get this right. They have to move on and so we have to move on with crafting fact-based policies with urgency.
Invest in Arizona wants you to believe that they ran a grassroots campaign. But that notion is absurd. And you don’t need to look very far to find out.
Recently, the political committee filed its campaign finance report. And lo and behold, what does it show? That the National Education Association (NEA) and Stand for Children, two out-of-state special interest groups, purchased the referendum against historic tax cuts that Republicans delivered earlier this year.
Just look at the numbers. In Quarter 3, Invest in Arizona received just over $16,000 from individual donors. Now, compare that to the nearly $2.4 million it received from the NEA and the more than $2.3 million it received in cash, goods, and services from Stand for Children.
That’s more than $4.5 million—basically their entire budget—with the overwhelming majority spent on gathering signatures.
So much for “grassroots,” eh?
Of course, Stand for Children is trying to claim that its money came from its Phoenix office. But these groups can’t be trusted…
Most of the attention of our nation’s businesses entities is focused on attempts to win government favors. That’s typical of political economies sliding into corruption mode.
America’s unions have been a big winner of the competition. They poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns. Their bet paid off when Democrats swept the presidency and both houses of Congress. Not only that, ole’ Scranton Joe is a longtime friend.
So White House favors have flowed in a torrent. For example, a new law mandates union labor on virtually all federal projects, automatically adding 20 to 30% to the cost. There is also a provision making union dues tax deductible, another huge union subsidy.
The Green New Deal is union friendly. A $4500 tax credit is available for electric vehicles only if the car is union made. The $14,500 tax credit for homeowner energy-saving devices also requires the work be done by union members.
Worst of all, the “jobs bill“ would abolish the 26 state right-to-work laws. Tens of millions of workers would be forced to pay union dues and support union political causes.
There are legitimate reasons why workers may decline to join a union. The benefits of membership may not be worth the dues. They may not support the union’s political views.
Especially ambitious or capable workers may not want to be bound by union work rules, promotion and salary schedules, typically designed to protect the weakest performers. Moreover, many workers are repulsed by the 2,100 documented cases of union corruption, including embezzlement, racketeering and inflated salaries.
But it’s no secret that mandatory membership would massively increase union rolls and coffers. Joe Biden may have lied about a few things here and there, but his vow to have “the most pro-union administration in history” meant business.
But if the unions are experiencing a bonanza, how about the rest of us? After all, only 6.3% of private sector workers are union members (about half of government workers are unionized). How do the other 93.7%, and those of us not considered “workers“, fare?
Not that well. You may have heard of the supply chain shortage and the massive backup at our ports. You’ve seen prices rise and empty shelves starting to appear.
In response, President Biden recently announce a “gamechanger”, ordering more hours for the ports. Union work rules regarding off-hours pay make the option a significant burden for the port operators. But it would increase cargo movement by less than 10%, hardly solving the problem.
The dysfunction in America’s ports isn’t news. The World Bank rates LA and Long Beach 328 and 333 worldwide for speed and efficiency. Not one US port was in the top 50.
Here’s the reason. Our ports lack modern technology. Automated cranes and other laborsaving devices operate worldwide over twice as fast as our outdated equipment.
But unions demand the obsolescence to preserve make-work jobs. The International Longshoremen’s Association has a contract blocking the use of automated cargo handling equipment.
Biden could take action, but he won’t. His Build Back Better bill specially prohibits using any funds for automation.
Government unions, because they needn’t worry about any economic impact on their employer, are even more abusive of the public trust. The main reward for teachers’ union loyalty has been the party’s staunch, enduring opposition to school choice.
School choice for underprivileged children is rightly considered the civil rights issue of our time. Many leading Democrats, like the Obamas, Clintons and Kennedys send their own children to desirable schools but deny the same privilege to millions of children who will be economically handicapped for life by the school they attend.
The teachers’ unions displayed their impressive clout again during the recent pandemic. Long after research data had thoroughly discredited the wisdom, (children were essentially COVID-19 proof), they selfishly kept schools closed. The education fallout is proving to be catastrophic.
Unions historically have played a role in improving the plight of workers. Private sector unions particularly deserve the right to exist, to organize and to be treated fairly. But when the scales are tipped to afford them political benefits not enjoyed by other Americans, we all get hit.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.
This past July, Arizona lawmakers and Governor Ducey did the right thing. Through a series of Budget Reconciliation Bills, they took important steps to protect the people of Arizona from more COVID mandates and to prevent children from being indoctrinated in public schools by Critical Race Theory.
While COVID was certainly an issue that warranted some action, it never should have included trampling on the rights of the people. And we definitely should not be wasting tax dollars on lessons that teach public school students that one race, ethnic group, or sex is in any way superior to another.
Not surprisingly, these laws sent teachers’ unions into a tailspin. As students headed back to campus, some Arizona schools decided to teach students that it’s ok to violate the law. And the Arizona Board of Regents recently announced that all three state universities will require their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8.
By John Fund and Hans A. von Spakovsky with the Heritage Foundation |
Election audits of the 2020 election are under attack in the media.
It’s easy to see why some calls for audits have drawn criticism.
But audits can serve a very useful purpose. Glenn Youngkin, the Virginia Republican nominee for governor, is calling for an “audit” of the state’s voting machines. The former co-CEO of the Carlyle group says: “I grew up in a world where you have an audit every year, in businesses you have an audit. So let’s just audit the voting machines, publish it so everybody can see it.”
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Kari Lake, a former Phoenix news anchor whose candidacy for governor of Arizona has been endorsed by Donald Trump, said she would not have certified the 2020 election results in the state. She cited “serious irregularities and problems with the election”.
What she didn’t do was directly allege fraud—and that was smart. The official results showed Trump lost Arizona by some 10,000 votes out of some 3.4 million votes cast. A just-released forensic audit of Maricopa County’s result ordered by the GOP-controlled Arizona State Senate recounted about 2.1 million ballots cast in the county. It found 261 fewer ballots for Trump and 99 more for Biden than county had, prompting critics to declare the audit both irresponsible and a waste of time.
No one should now doubt that the final vote tabulation shows that Biden won the state. But critics of the audit either don’t understand the purpose of an audit or are trying to deliberately obscure the fact the Arizona audit turned up some worrying findings that should be used to avoid problems in future elections.
One of us has been a former county election official for large jurisdictions in both Georgia and Virginia. Recounts—what the Arizona audit was—almost always only show slight differences from the original ballot tabulation. The fact that the hand recount in Maricopa County matched the machine recount simply means that the computer scanners used to scan and tabulate paper ballots were working properly. A recount simply recounts the ballots that were cast—a recount does not investigate, examine or review the legitimacy of those ballots.
A recount does not verify or check whether ballots were cast by registered voters who are actually deceased; who do not actually live where they claim to live; who cast multiple votes because they are registered more than once; or who are not entitled to vote even though they are registered because they are not US citizens or are felons who have not yet had their right to vote restored.
A simple example illustrates this problem. If a homeowners’ association has an election and the new president wins with 51 out of 100 votes, a recount will no doubt confirm that she received 51 votes. But it will not reveal whether 5 of her 51 votes were cast by individuals who falsely claimed to live in the neighborhood when they actually live elsewhere.
Volume III of the Maricopa audit lists some disturbing findings. That includes 23,344 “mail-in ballots voted from a prior address”; 9,041 “more ballots returned by voter than received”; 5,295 “voters that potentially voted in multiple counties”; 2,592 “more duplicates than original ballots”; and 2,382 “in-person voters who had moved out of Maricopa County”.
Numerous other problems are listed, such as voters whose ballots were counted despite the fact that they registered to vote after the state deadline for registration had already passed.
These are serious potential problems that should be investigated with the help of law enforcement. For example, the individual voter files of the 5,295 “voters that potentially voted in multiple counties” should be pulled, and each voter should be investigated to determine if they have multiple registrations and, in fact, illegally cast more than one vote in the 2020 election.
Contrary to what some passionate backers of Donald Trump seem to believe, the purpose of an audit is not to overturn an election. It is too late to do so. Every state has election laws that provide very short deadlines for a losing candidate to contest the outcome of an election. That deadline has long expired in Arizona and every other state.
Instead, audits are intended to determine whether voting machines worked properly; whether applicable state and federal laws and regulations were followed; whether the voter registration list was accurate and up-to-date and only allowed eligible individuals to vote; and whether all eligible voters were able to vote, that their vote was properly counted, and that their votes were not voided or nullified by fraud, mistakes, or errors.
The results of such an election audit can then be used to correct any compliance issues, to prosecute anyone who engaged in intentional misconduct that violates state or federal election laws, to change election administration procedures that led to errors and mistakes by election officials, and to provide legislators with the information they need to make needed amendments to election laws to make sure any problems that were found do not reoccur in future elections.
What is most disturbing about the reaction to the audit report is that so many seem to think that this is the end of the review process, since the hand recount showed that Biden won and, thus, nothing else needs to be done. This attitude is especially disturbing in Maricopa County election officials, who from the very start have done everything they could to obstruct the audit and who are now claiming that since their “canvass” was accurate, they don’t need to do anything else.
That attitude is wrong. The audit seems to have revealed that sloppy, careless and chaotic procedures were utilized in Maricopa County during the last election. Officials there have a duty to not only investigate all of the potential problems the audit found, such as potential multiple registrations by the same individual, but to correct their procedures and implement better training for their election workers to ensure that such problems, if confirmed, do not happen again.
Opposing the conduct of election audits is unwise and unjustified. Audits are a routine occurrence in the business world for good reason. Conducting random or comprehensive audits after an election in every state should also be routine.
Contrary to the bizarre claim of election officials in Harris County, Texas, that audits are “an attack by officials on our communities’ trust in elections”, audits are a form of transparency, ensuring the security of the election process and improving the confidence of the public in the integrity of elections.
We can agree that President Biden is the legal winner of the 2020 election. We should also agree that the serious problems that occurred surrounding it need to fixed if we are to avoid a potential conflict over the 2024 results.
John Fund is a Senior Fellow and Director of Government Finance Programs for the Heritage Foundation. Hans A. von Spakovsky serves on the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative and is a Senior Legal Fellow.
This piece originally appeared in The Spectator World