Published in the Opinions section of community editions within the Southeast Valley of the Arizona Republic on Friday, July 20, 2012 as “Olympics gives opportunity to teach kids about global issues.”
When the Olympics begin July 27, they bring two competing themes—nationalism and internationalism—that represents a great way to engage students as they return to school.
My daughter. who swims for Tempe High School, is a fan of Missy Franklin, the 17 year-old swimmer from Colorado, who leads U.S. women swimmers, competing in seven events in London. Whether it’s Franklin or male swimmer Michael Phelps, track star Allyson Felix or gymnast Gabby Douglas, American media coverage of the Olympics will encourage us to root for them. Go Team U.S.A! –that’s nationalism.
Forty-five athletes with Arizona ties head to London, from Mountain Pointe High School alumnus Will Claye in the long jump and triple jump to Mesa’s Sarah Robles poised to compete in women’s weight lifting to former and current Arizona State basketball standouts James Harden, Ike Diogu, and Eric Boateng .
The Olympic symbol of five interlocking rings of blue, yellow, black, green and red represent the five continents unified as one for healthy competition. That’s internationalism.
Why only five continents? Besides dropping Antarctica, in 1914 when the symbol was designed, Europeans generally regarded North and South America as one continent, yielding five rings. Ironically, scientists now frequently combine Europe and Asia instead.
Arizona now allows folks to carry concealed weapons without safety training, and now, if you possibly committed a misdemeanor or violated an ordinance, the police can ask for your papers and arrest you on the spot if they have reasonable suspicion that you’re not legally in the country. Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update lampooned these expanded police powers as “fascism.”
This latest firestorm and earlier protests may push Washington to do something sensible about immigration reform, because Arizona surely hasn’t. Continue reading →
Regarding immigrants who lack legal authorization to be here, we frequently hear they should get in line and enter legally, and “what part of illegal don’t you understand?”. But to those who think along these lines I ask, what part of 10,000 don’t you understand? Out of 140,000 employment-based visas granted annually by the United States only 10,000, not even enough to fill US Airways Arena, are granted to less skilled workers. The bulk are reserved for the more highly educated and wealthy.
If your brother is a permanent resident here and you’re coming from Mexico, the legal wait is up to 20 years. Finally, if you’d like to enter the lottery by which 50,000 people from under represented countries get legal access to the United States, if you’re from Mexico, you’re out of luck.
We need an immigration system that recognizes the real demand for less skilled immigrant workers and provides a legal means for them to enter this country. The Senate proposal from the Democrats does that, so it’s time for Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain to stop cheerleading about border security when the statistics don’t back them up, and get at the root of the problem. What part of 10,000 don’t they understand? Continue reading →
The opinion piece below was distributed statewide by the Arizona Editorial Forum, but fortunately it won’t be necessary this year anyway (see “House Speaker pulls plug on tax breaks” http://azstarnet.com/business/local/article_a45d737e-a4c1-5912-9992-4679aa4f221d.html) . Fortunately, the Governor’s office, Senate President Bob Burns and a few other Republicans in the State Senate can do simply arithmetic, and have balked at the fiscal impact of HB2250. More disturbing though are the forces that led to HB2250 haven’t disappeared and will likely be back next session, especially if Republicans retain control of the Governor’s office and the House and the Senate.
In coming months expect more work to more carefully scrutinize the myths and exaggerations which underlie it. Continue reading →
Arizona Legislature Poised to March to Madness by Cutting Revenues $900 million says ASU faculty study
Dave Wells, a faculty member at Arizona State University, has released a research study “Corporate Tax Games: March to Madness or Economic Growth?”
With the legislature having completed work on the fiscal year 2011 budget, pending voter approvals in May and November, HB2250 “Arizona’s Job Recovery Act” a major tax reduction bill that passed the Arizona State House in January is expected to be heard in the State Senate.
While it is purported to be a jobs bill, it slashes taxes for corporations while also expanding income tax cuts. If HB2250 is such wise policy, it should be empirically demonstrated, not mere ideological assertions. In other words, Wells explores whether we are seeing a March to Madness or Economic Growth? Continue reading →
Published Wednesday, March 3, 2010 in Tempe Republic opinions of Arizona Republic (and maybe Ahwatukee Republic) as “‘Yes’ on override would save music.”
Do we balance budgets on the backs of children?
Not if we care about their future.
Recently Kyrene Middle School and Fees Middle School Orchestras performed at Marcos de Niza preceding the orchestra they would soon join in high school.
The concert showcased fine music and maturing musicians. Fees students started learning in elementary school and had honed their intonation a bit better than their Kyrene counterparts who don’t begin instrumental music until middle school. But when the Marcos de Niza orchestra performed, jaws dropped in a percussion beat throughout the auditorium. It was amazing.
But if the Tempe Elementary Override doesn’t pass, elementary students will lose their instruments, and may never discover the talent within them.
Kyrene’s fine elementary art programs could become a thing of the past, if their override fails..
We hear a lot about taxes these days as our local and state governments struggle with dwindling revenues from the economic downturn. In Arizona the legislature effectively limits what we’re allowed to spend on K-12 education with one exception. Local districts can with voter approval use additional property taxes to increase their educational budgets by ten percent, and an additional five percent to lower class sizes for children through the third grade.
What’s on the ballot though isn’t a new tax, just a reauthorization of what’s already on your property tax bill. So support the overrides in Tempe Elementary and Kyrene Elementary districts.
The override supports music programs, art programs, gifted education, as well as reading and mathematics intervention to keep kids from falling behind. Plus, they’ll keep small class sizes for children in Kindergarten through third grade to make sure they build the skills they’ll need.
Support kids. Support our future. Vote Yes!
Dave Wells of Tempe holds a doctorate in Political Economy and Public Policy and teaches at Arizona State University. Reach him at Dave@MakeDemocracyWork.org. The views are his own.
For Fiscal Year 2008, after adjusting for savings for students switching from public to private schools, the individual and corporate tax credit private school scholarship programs cost the general fund between $42 and $54 million.
Executive Summary: In 1997 Governor Fife Symington signed into law allowing individual taxpayers the opportunity to deduct from their state income tax donations to Student Tuition Organizations (STOs) whose purpose was to use at least 90 percent of their funds to support scholarships to students attending private school.
Since its inception, the individual income tax credit program has grown considerably from 3,365 scholarships in 1999 to 28,321 scholarships in 2008. Today, assuming students do not receive multiple scholarships, more than half of private school students receive monetary assistance through the program. It has been augmented in the last few years by the corporate tuition tax credit, which provides scholarships that are required to be awarded to students with family incomes of no higher than 185 percent of the income that qualifies for the free and reduced lunch program ($72,557 for a family of four in 2008).
Outside of arguments regarding whether the program has educational merit, given Arizona’s unprecedented budget shortfall, debate has raged over whether this program has been a net benefit or a net loss to taxpayers. Two reports have been released in recent months which purport to estimate the number of private school students who would be in public school if not for the private tuition tax credit scholarships and, hence, the cost of the program to taxpayers. Continue reading →
This opinion piece is being circulated statewide by the Arizona Editorial Forum.
In countries like Iran we regularly see dissent brutally crushed and political enemies jailed. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas are behaving in similar fashion. That’s why a federal grand jury is investigating Arpaio.
Arpaio and Thomas use their popularity and the cover of law to embark on a reign of legal intimidation. Except that, unlike Iran, they ultimately may be restrained by the very oath they are breaking — that of upholding the U.S. Constitution and “to impartially discharge the duties of the office.” Continue reading →
Published Saturday, January 23, 2010 in Southeast Valley Opinions of the Arizona Republic as “Plans to aid Haiti took on a new meaning after earthquake.”
Ironically, the day before the Haitian earthquake, I was presenting to Tempe High School French students about my time in Haiti 10 years ago. Their inspiring teacher, Michelle Coble, had a wonderful plan to finish their Haitian unit by sending donations there. I emailed the colleague who led the trip about how best to get school supplies there and connect with students.
Published Saturday, November 07, 2009 in Southeast Valley Opinions of the Arizona Republic as “Sheriff’s tactics to silence foes raise Constitutional issues.”
Note: The day after I submitted this for publication (Oct. 30), KPHO broke the story that what I’m reporting here is far more widespread and that the FBI is investigating (if embedded video doesn’t show-try this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N26cQaHbYxs):
What separates the United States from countries like Iran is our Constitution, which creates checks on the abuse of governmental authority. But can it check the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office?
The recent Cronkite Eight poll found 61 percent of those in Maricopa County approve of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s job performance, out distancing anyone else. Unlike Governor Jan Brewer who had one in five respondents express no opinion or Treasurer Dean Martin where half had no opinion, nearly everyone has an opinion on the Sheriff; only four percent didn’t.
One has to wonder what it would take for the public to turn on this popular Sheriff. He has twice held press conferences since the Federal Government revoked his 287(g) authority to enforce immigration violations through targeting minor vehicle violations in Hispanic neighborhoods. First, he cited a law that didn’t exist and then he pulled a page from an outdated manual, while defiantly insisting he’ll continue his sweeps. The public, according to the poll, backs him.
In other words, the county’s top law enforcement official is intentionally violating the law. This, unfortunately, is no aberration. Repeatedly in his endless efforts to grab headlines, he places public safety at risk, while seeking to silence those who oppose him.
Recall last October’s 2 a.m. raid of Mesa’s City Hall because a cleaning service had allegedly employed workers who were here illegally. Rather than work with the city internally on the issue, and rather than alert the Mesa police department of their intended action, Sheriff deputies instead swept in dramatically fully armed after midnight on the unsuspecting cleaning staff.
Earlier last year the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability began demanding the Board of Supervisors investigate the Sheriff’s office’s conduct and use of funds, following numerous details in the press. Their leadership became targets for arrest. At one Board meeting the Sheriff’s office cleared the room after members protested their continued exclusion from the agenda. Sheriff deputies then locked the public out of the meeting in violation of Arizona’s open meeting law. At a subsequent meeting, the Sheriff’s office targeted their leader Randy Parraz. Parraz dressed in a suit as he stood peacefully on public property was shackled on his legs and handcuffed. Then with the cooperation of the County Attorney’s Office charges were vigorously pursued for disorderly conduct and trespassing.
In August, Justice Armando Gandarilla, after viewing videotape taken by the Sheriff’s office, ruled that the arrest was in gross violation of Mr. Parraz’s first amendment rights. The Constitution prevailed.
Last December, five other leaders of the organization were arrested by Sheriff deputies after applauding one of their own during public comments. Again charges were pursued to the fullest, and they, too, were exonerated, upholding the Constitution.
Like in Iran, citizens protesting the action of the Sheriff are arrested and intimidated. The difference lies in our independent judiciary and Bill of Rights.
In coming months as a federal civil rights case, Melendres v. Arpaio, moves forward we’ll find out if those U.S. citizens who have been improperly arrested during sweeps by the Sheriff’s office for possible immigration violations had their fourth amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures violated, and if the Sheriff’s office has systematically engaged in racial profiling.
However, the courts don’t have their own police force. So if found guilty, who will enforce that action on the Sheriff’s office? And in the court of public opinion will it even matter? Dave Wells of Tempe holds a doctorate in Political Economy and Public Policy and teaches at Arizona State University. Reach him at Dave@MakeDemocracyWork.org. The views are his own.
Published Friday, September 11, 2009 in opinions of Southeast Valley community sections of the Arizona Republic as “Obama’s speech to kids reaffirms American values.” (note: the published version cut off the part starting with the Constitutional Convention reference)
“And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.” –President Barack Obama’s Tuesday, September 8th address to the nation’s school children.
When I first learned the President would be addressing the nation’s school children on what for many, though not in Arizona, was their first day of school, I was delighted.
I was rather surprised by the outcry from some conservative commentators and Southeast Valley parents. Our Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction even weighed in to criticize and politicize the speech as well. Continue reading →
Published Saturday, August 15, 2009 in Southeast Community editions of the Arizona Republic as “Political posturing will put pox on health-care debate.”
The health-care debate has hit the Southeast Valley full force.
Rep. Jeff Flake’s town hall meeting at Chandler’s Basha High School included 1,500 people with another 500 turned away due to capacity limitations. Rep. Flake, a strong libertarian, will oppose the health-care bill.
Meanwhile, Congressional representatives like Harry Mitchell, whose votes will be important if health- care reform is to pass have chosen not to schedule town halls.
Published as the featured op-ed on Sunday, July 26, 2009 in TheEast Valley Tribune’s Perspective section as “Health care reform finally on horizon.” Next week The East Valley Tribune will feature a piece by Rep. John Shadegg that explains how the U.S. can do better without a government mandate or new “public option” for health care.
When my neighbor, who operates a small business, had a stroke, the first thing that came to mind as paramedics wheeled him away was, “Does he have health insurance?” A former student with polycystic kidney disease can’t find private insurance to cover her pre-existing condition. Another friend worked his way out of homelessness, but hepatitis C forces him to keep his income below the poverty line, so he doesn’t lose health coverage through the state Medicaid program known as Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.
While some of us have quality health care, few have health care security. Many of us give up our entrepreneurial dreams to hold onto jobs with health insurance. We’re one job loss away from facing exorbitant premiums or being locked out by pre-existing conditions.
The America’s Affordable Health Choices Act moving through Congress is historic, but not yet affordable. Today nearly 20 percent of the nonelderly population lacks health insurance, The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects the Act will bring health care security by raising coverage of legal nonelderly residents to 97 percent of all Americans. Continue reading →
Married Filing Joint/Head of Household income brackets
Current Individual Income Tax Rates
New Rate with the Flat Tax
$0 – $10,000
$0 – $20,000
$10,001 – $25,000
$20,001 – $50,000
$25,001 – $50,000
$50,001 – $100,000
$50,001 – $150,000
$100,001 – $300,000
$150,001 and over
$300,001 and over
It’s not revenue neutral and kicks in for the 2012 calendar year…the estimated cost $450 million.NO WAIT! There’s a HUGE MATH ERROR in the document that legislators and the public have been viewing! Continue reading →
A flat tax to replace our graduated progressive income tax appears to be part of the possible budget agreement between Republican Governor Jan Brewer and our Republican legislative leadership.
If revenue neutral, this would be a stealth tax increase for many Arizonans and may also undermine state finances well into the future, why?
Economic conservatives generally believe if we tax consumption (the sales tax), then people will save more and we’ll have better economic growth. Unfortunately, in Arizona we’ve raised sales taxes (state and local) significantly since 1994 by approximately 20 percent or more, while reducing income tax rates by a third. The wealthiest paid a marginal tax rate of 6.9 percent on taxable income above $150,000, but today that rate is just 4.54percent (Arizona unlike the federal government doesn’t adjust table income brackets for inflation). Despite this dramatic change in tax policy in the direction economic conservatives favor, Arizona still was struck by a housing bubble in real estate and subsequent economic collapse. In recent months, we’ve had the greatest job losses in the country, even worse than Michigan.
A flat tax would be an even more dramatic change. It would remove graduated progressive income tax rates that currently go from 2.59 percent to 4.54 percent with one flat rate. Continue reading →
Published Friday, May 22, 2009 in Southeast Valley Opinions of the Arizona Republic as “Some ASU students becoming agents of change.”
“A great motto for all of us — find somebody to be successful for. Raise their hopes. Rise to their needs.” –President Barack Obama’s commencement address at Arizona State University, May 13, 2009.
One learning outcome of ASU’s “Foundations of Interdisciplinary Studies” course bridges students for what awaits them beyond ASU. They complete a passion puzzle (try it at passionpuzzle.com) where they identify their top 9 values, skills, interest and ambitions, and then look for their passion that pulls it all together.
President Barack Obama asked graduates to follow their passion, but to consider whether there might be a better way to measure success than self-centered materialistic gain.
Underlying this is a deeper message about what education should do. When educators design courses, we often pay too little heed to the kind of people we want students to become. Education focuses so much on standards and measurable achievement markers, that we frequently lose track of the larger mission of turning students into open, engaged, active citizens—the lifeblood of democracy and our communities. Continue reading →
Distributed statewide to newspapers and radio outlets by the Arizona Editorial Forum. Posted at their web site as “Fixing Arizona’s unemployment benefit system” and published under the same title on Saturday, May 9 in the Tucson Citizen.
At a recent community meeting on the state’s budget crisis with Republican and Democratic legislators a courageous Karen Ickes shared her family crisis. Both her husband and she are unemployed, but, after losing her job, for eight weeks her family had to survive without receiving an unemployment check.
She told state legislators how deeply this impacted her family. She held back tears as she revealed some of the tough questions she struggled with daily: “How do you tell your kids, you’re close to being homeless?” “How do you tell your children, they may not be able to afford to keep the pets that have always been part of your family?” And “How do you respond when your daughter offers her birthday money to help pay the rent?”
Karen’s family is not alone. Arizona’s antiquated unemployment processing system leaves most workers waiting weeks for their first check. Half of those qualifying for unemployment benefits wait at least six weeks for their first check, according to the state Department of Economic Security. Although when the check arrives it includes payment for the missing weeks, families wait weeks trying to survive a financial crisis not knowing when, or if, their check will come. Foisting such added suffering upon struggling families is intolerable.
Published Wednesday, April 22nd in the Tucson Citizen as “Let’s set goal to reconfigure AIMS” and published Saturday, April 25th in the East Valley Community Sections of the Arizona Republic as “Flaws in AIMS test demand scrutiny and overhaul.” You may also wish to read my prior article on the challenge with the standards of AIMS from August 2008 entitled, “Where AIMS fails“.
Less than a month after finishing AIMS, my 6th, 7th and 8th graders (my children, not my students) are now taking NWEA MAP testing. Students will be pulled out for one to two periods at separate times to take the math and reading portions—far less invasive than the many hours required to administer AIMS.
The Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP) testing is typically done three times a year to track a student’s progress. While the NWEA provides immediate results, as it’s an adaptive computerized test, Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) results won’t be known for a couple months yet. While both tests factor into the school’s label under AZ LEARNS (e.g., “Performing Plus”), neither factors into whether a student moves on to the next grade. Schools are accountable, not students. Continue reading →
A shorter version has been sent to the Arizona Republic.
Rob Robb purports today that (“Increasing state taxes no economic panacea“, April 3), “some highly careless advocates even assert that if the state had not changed tax rates, state revenues would be $2 billion higher today (than in the early 1990s).” I wonder who’s being careless here.
Using annual tax cost numbers from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, since 1993, adjusted for inflation only the cost of the tax reductions to state coffers are $2 billion.
Adjusted only for inflation and population growth the cost of tax reductions are $2.6 billion.
And applying the tax rates of 1993 to our current economy yields $3 billion in annual revenues.
$2 billion is an extremely conservative number, as it assumes no one would have moved here and the economy would have stayed stagnant all that time. Continue reading →
Published Saturday, March 28, 2009 as “No joking: Schools need to explore immigration issues” in Southeast Valley Opinions of the Arizona Republic in all communities except Tempe where it appeared on Wednesday, April 1.
I recently was told a joke where Chinese, Mexican and American individuals were requested to bring something they had too much of. The Chinese person came back with a huge pot of rice. The Mexican brought a stack of tacos. Then when it was the American’s turn, he grabbed the head of the Mexican pushed it down on the table and said, “we have too many of these!”
What concerned me most wasn’t only the joke, but that a second-grader told it. Continue reading →