No Game-Changer: A Delayed LiveBlog of the Giffords-Bee Debate on Education

6:30 p.m.: An hour before the debate, I notice a Giffords side by the side of Prince Road. And then another. And another. The Giffords camp has sunk signs everywhere they could along a three-mile stretch of Prince Road leading to the debate at Flowing Wells High School.

As I arrive at Flowing Wells, I notice that the homes across the street have Giffords plastered all over their fences.

This is a repeat of the first debate, when Giffords’ volunteers plastered campaign signs all over the UA and the nearby area with signs. I’m struck by the fact that the Bee campaign hasn’t tried to counter this “shock and awe” strategy.

7 p.m.: Sen. Tim Bee arrives, getting a crowd of about 20 GOP kids excited. “Tim Bee!” the youth brigade chants. Bee starts to approach his fans, but gets pulled away by his handlers.

7:05 p.m.: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords arrives. The Bee Youth Brigade boo loudly, then begin chanting Bee’s name again.

7:25 p.m.: The crowd—such as it is—continues to trickle in. Turnout is about equal to the number of folks who turned out to see state Senate candidates Al Melvin and Cheryl Cage debate. Several people blame the low turnout on the fact that tonight is also the final McCain-Obama debate. That’s an apt metaphor for this entire race, which has been almost completely overshadowed by national events.

7:30 p.m.: Mike Love, chair of the Flowing Wells School Board, takes the stage. In Michael Scott fashion, he launches into a long-winded introduction of the people who will be questioning the candidates, who include Mark Kimble of the Tucson Citizen, Bud Foster of KOLD-TV, and a teacher.

7:42 p.m.: Love is finally done introducing the moderators and running through their career highlights. Members of the audience are grateful the debate is about to begin—but no! Love then Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Frank Antenori on Education

Republican Frank Antenori is facing Republican David Gowan and Democrat Andrea Dalessandro in the race for two House seats in Legislative District 30. We asked him some questions on education.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for high-school graduation?

You have to have some sort of benchmark. If you leave it to the subjectivity of the teacher, you are going to have such a wide standard range and it’s not going to be fun. You’ve got to have a statewide objective resource to measure performance, so you know which schools are cutting the mustard and which aren’t. That’s why I like the Regents Exam. There are just some kids that can’t pass the AIMS. They spent twelve years in school, got decent grades, are hard-working kids, and they have an aptitude issue or an inability to take tests-–there are various reasons. I believe they should be given a diploma. But there should be some credit for kids that are able to pass a standardized test that demonstrates their aptitude across the board. That’s where I think a Regents type exam where you have two diplomas, a standard diploma and Regents diploma, should be looked at.

Do you favor any changes for the AIMS test?

It should always be changed. You look at what they do with the SAT and the ACT; they change them every year. There’s a committee that evaluates societal norms, cultural changes and scientific changes. There’s always a requirement to change the test and update the test. I think it should have an annual review of educators and professors and professionals to determine the test is fair, equitable and up-to-date.

Do you support state-funded vouchers for private or religious schools?

I don’t favor them for religious schools, because I fear them being abused. You open the door to…all these crazy schools. You open the door to all these schools like that one sect of Mormons…And you just get nervous. I believe in public schools vouchers, to include charter schools and Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican David Gowan on Education

Republican David Gowan is facing Republican Frank Antenori and Democrat Andrea Dalessandro race for two House seats in Legislative District 30. We asked him some questions about education.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for high-school graduation?

I know a lot of teachers don’t like it… Federally mandated standards make things rough. I’m all about patriotism but they still need to be learning their basic reading, math, and arithmetic. There should be some sort of performance standard. I heard from The Goldwater Institute that this is the first time in history that our students won’t know as much as their parents did.

Do you favor any changes for the AIMS test?

No, not at the moment.

Do you support state-funded vouchers for private or religious schools?

Yes, I believe in the parental school choice in that aspect. When you allow the free market to blossom, you have better situations. If I’m a parent and I Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Andrea Dalessandro on Education

Democrat Andrea Dalessandro is facing Republicans Frank Antenori and David Gowan in the race for two House seats in Legislative District 30. We asked her some questions about education.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for high-school graduation?

What’s happened with No Child Left Behind is the only people who are being helped out by it are the companies that generate the test. I think there should be other measures. The augmentation that they passed at the end of this session is a good thing. I have friends that are very smart and they have trouble with standardized tests. I, myself, am a good test taker, so I’ve never minded, but there are just some people that have anxiety–some have anxiety on a reading part, some have anxiety on a math portion. I was a math teacher, so I know what happens with that. I think it puts an undue stress on the teacher and the students. I’m also concerned that sometimes special-ed students and English language learners are forced to take the test, and it’s stupid. I think we need to look at a floor review of students and their achievements.

Do you favor any changes for the AIMS test?

Yes, I just would like to mention that assessment is an important part of education. But, to give one blank test for everyone, it doesn’t show the individual’s abilities. I think it should be part of the picture, but not the whole picture. I’ve read information about teachers not wanting to teach on the grades that the AIMS test has given, because it is a bad reflection on them. I think teachers should be evaluated on how students improve over the year.

Do you support state-funded vouchers for private or religious schools?

No, public funds should be used for public schools.

Does the state need to spend more on school construction?

Yes, I would like to see the schools Continue reading

Scramblewatch Q&A: Sharon Collins on Higher Ed

Sharon Collins is one of four GOP candidates running for Legislative District 30 House of Representatives. We asked her some questions on higher education.

Should the state provide more funding for universities?

I didn’t like what they did with the bricks and mortar this year but I’m a big supporter of education. People are disappointed with our education system.

Should the Board of Regents increase tuition for in-state students?

No, because that money doesn’t go back into the classroom. The professors are only required to teach four hours a day and I don’t think that’s right.

Should the Board of Regents increase tuition for out-of-state students?

No, it’s the same thing.

Should tuition money be used to provide financial aid for low-income students?

Yes.

Was it a good idea for the Legislature to allow the Board of Regents to borrow more than a billion dollars for capital projects, with the expectation that the bonds could be paid back through lottery proceeds?

No.

Scramblewatch Q&A: Republican Doug Sposito on Higher Ed

Doug Sposito is one of four Republican candidates running for a seat in Legislative District 30 House of Representatives. We asked him some questions on education policy.

Should the state provide more funding for universities?

Yes.

Should the Board of Regents increase tuition for in-state students?

Not for in-state tuition.

Should the Board of Regents increase tuition for out-of-state students?

I think that the out-of-state tuition should be market based.

Should tuition money be used to provide financial aid for low-income students?

No.

Was it a good idea for the Legislature to allow the Board of Regents to borrow more than a billion dollars for capital projects, with the expectation that the bonds could be paid back through lottery proceeds?

No, first off they didn’t identify specific projects, they just sort of laid out that they wanted a billion dollars. That’s an example of when borrowing money did not get us through the commitments we had. Borrowing that money was simply to expand and this is not the time to be expanding.

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Marilyn Zerull on Education

Marilyn Zerull is one of three Republican candidates running for a seat in Legislative District 26 House of Representatives. We asked her some questions on education policy.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for graduation?

I don’t really care for the AIMS test mainly because it tests after the fact. I would prefer testing during the school year. I believe if the curriculum was standardized, regular class room testing would indicate to the teachers and parents if a student was falling behind.

Do you favor any changes for the AIMS test?

I would favor a basics skills test like I was brought up with-one that is Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Daniel Patterson on Education

Democrat Daniel Patterson is running for House of Representatives in Legislative District 29. We asked him some questions about education policy.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for high-school graduation?

No. I listen to the teachers and the teachers don’t support it. I don’t think it’s worked very well and in general I don’t support federal or state level micromanagement of local school districts and that’s what the aims test is.

Do you favor any changes for the AIMS test or would you do away with it completely?

I’d like to sit down with the education community and teachers and see what they think but at least with the current AIMS test I don’t think it’s worth keeping.

Do you support state-funded vouchers for private or religious schools?

No. If people want to send their kid to a private or religious school that’s fine, but I think they should pay for it. I support strong funding for public schools and vouchers Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Democrat Tom Prezelski on Education

Democratic incumbent Tom Prezelski is one of seven candidates running for two seats in the Legislative District 29 House of Representatives Democratic primary that voters will decide on Sept. 2. We asked him some questions about education policy.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for high-school graduation?

No.

Do you favor any changes to the AIMS test or just do away with it completely?

I supported a bill this session that provided alternatives to the AIMS test so you could do some extra course work or something else to kind-of substitute the requirements of the AIMS test. That I would support, I would continue to support.

Do you support state-funded vouchers for private or religious schools?

No.

Does the state need to spend more money on school construction?

Yes.

Should school construction funds come from the general fund or would you prefer a new revenue source for school construction?

Well, right now I prefer that it comes out of the general fund but if someone could come up with an alternate revenue source Continue reading

ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Marilyn Zerull on Education

Marilyn Zerull is one of three Republican candidates running for a seat in Legislative District 26 House of Representatives GOP primary that voters will decide Sept. 2. We asked her some questions about education policy.

Should the AIMS test remain a requirement for graduation?

I don’t really care for the AIMS test mainly because it tests after the fact. I would prefer testing during the school year because if the curriculum was standardized then just regular testing in the class room would indicate to the teachers and parents if a student was falling behind.

Do you favor any changes for the AIMS test?

I would favor a basics skills test like I was brought up with that was given a third of the way through the school year so that you really got an idea of where each student was at.

Do you support state-funded vouchers for private or religious schools?

I definitely believe in supporting them, whether it’s with state funding or not. I’m not totally decided on that yet but I do feel that private schooling is already privately funded so I don’t really think they need any additional funding. Of course, religious schools and charter schools are different.

Does the state need to spend more on school construction?

No. We have schools that are Continue reading

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