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By Pam Kirby
Scottsdale Unified School District Board Member

Here in Arizona and across the country, every day brings a new and louder call to do right by our teachers.

Many in this state, myself included, are calling for an extension of the funding currently provided by Proposition 301.  It is critical money for our public schools and teacher salaries.  We do not need to play games or delay.  The public overwhelmingly supports the measure.  We should pass it now.  Kirby Headshot 2 2017

Better funding for our schools and higher teacher salaries aren’t excuses to tax more and grow government.  Instead, they should be seen as the foundation of an economically healthy Arizona. Business leaders recognize strong compensation is needed to recruit the best and the brightest to their companies.  So, I believe the same is true for our teachers.  Indeed, great teachers and great schools go hand in hand with efforts to recruit new business to the state and grow those already here.  The backbone of our education system, the public schools, needs to be healthy and whole, starting with teachers.

But, while critical, the extension of Proposition 301 only maintains the status quo.  That’s not reform or improvement.  It merely avoids a funding disaster.   I want to aim higher.  I want to appeal to parents and voters to join me in support something more dramatic.  And though I hail from the Scottsdale Unified School District, the reform I outline below can apply to everyone, statewide.

The average teacher salary in Arizona is $47,403.  As most readers know, this places our state at or near the bottom of national rankings.  It’s why many teachers are leaving the profession, and the best talent may not be attracted in the first place – despite its nobility.  There are a variety of reasons teacher salaries vary from district to district.  But, in general, teacher salaries need to increase – across the state.  In Scottsdale, our average salaries are close to $50,000, but they should be better.  

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On behalf of John Whiteman, Reg Ballantyne III, Mike Brewer, and myself, I want to applaud Arizona State Representative Doug Coleman and State Senator Kate Brophy McGee, as well as Speaker J.D. Mesnard, President Steve Yarborough, and the entire leadership of the state legislature for protecting over $650 million in revenue for our schools and avoiding the fiscal cliff of Prop 301's expiration.

Now the business and education community must focus its efforts on expanding the education funding pie after we work to get Governor Ducey re-elected this Fall.

We continue to be vocal supporters of Governor Ducey’s vision for investing in teacher pay, full day kindergarten, K-12 capital and the other priorities as articulated two years ago in his 2017 State of the State Address. 

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By: Scottsdale Pinetop

A simple vote by the Scottsdale City Council may seem like a small step for progress. But when trying foster improvements between government and businesses, it can make all the difference in the world. This week, the City Council voted correctly to approve a $30,000 matching fund agreement with the Scottsdale Gallery Association in an attempt to re-brand and showcase Old Town Scottsdale.

In a place that embraces innovation and creativity, it’s no surprise that art is found on nearly every street corner in Scottsdale. The Scottsdale Gallery Association has spent years improving the arts district to become the unique place that it is today. It hosts numerous events including the weekly Thursday Night Art walk – which stands as the longest running event of its kind in the U.S.
However, the Gallery Association often does not receive the attention and assistance it deserves.
For the past few years, local enthusiasts have expressed their anger that the City of Scottsdale tends to promote big private galleries and often neglects the needs of smaller ones. So they decided to take action. Last year, fellow artists came together to create the 2018 Visitor’s Guide that illustrates all elements of downtown Scottsdale.

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By: Scottsdale Pinetop

Every strong campaign needs a good slogan. For President Trump it was “Make American Great Again.” For World War II Army recruiting it was “I Want You.” A catchy slogan can help win elections or bring people together under a single cause. But if done wrong, it can send the wrong message.

That’s what happened last week to Scottsdale’s Economic Development Department when their “Saguarbro” campaign took a huge hit at the South by Southwest Technology Convention in Austin, Texas.

Throughout the convention, members from the Scottsdale Economic group distributed merchandise that included an image of a saguaro with a man’s head. Underneath it was the sentence “A dude or dudette who is part of the sharp, creative workforce in trendy Scottsdale, Ariz.”

As humorous as it was, the slogan didn’t sit well with many of the attendees. Many called out the campaign for being demeaning to the thousands of successful women in business. Critics of the “bro culture” have often referenced the sexist nature of the technology industry in general. This campaign appeared to be adding fuel to the fire.

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By: Scottsdale Pinetop

More bright yellow and lime green bikes appear to be popping up everywhere in the Valley. The City of Scottsdale piloted the bike share program in early November and it has now extended to Mesa, Tempe and potentially Paradise Valley – taking on a life of its own.

Bike share programs provide residents and visitors with a new and practical way of getting around downtown Scottsdale without relying on the convenience of Lyft or dealing with the pains of parking. These bikes are available through the use of the company’s smartphone app where customers pay $1 per 30 minutes of riding. Once the ride is done the customer locks the bike, making it available for the next rider.

With the influx of winter visitors and Spring Training attendees, these bikes are becoming increasingly popular. But not everyone is on board with the program.

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by Shawnna Bolick

Phoenix, AZ- March 12, 2018- Today, a group of like-minded education reformers endorsed Shawnna Bolick for an open seat in the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 20. Here is what they had to say about candidate Bolick:

"We need elected officials who will put parents first over bureaucrats. Shawnna Bolick has been a passionate voice for parental school choice for over two decades. Her dedication to ensuring parents maintain control of their school children's curriculum is paramount. I know Ms. Bolick will represent parents well once she's elected to the Arizona Legislature."
~ Jared Taylor
Member, State Board of Education
Gilbert Town Councilman

"In order for Arizona to prosper we need to return to the founding principles of our country - individual liberty, fiscal responsibility and free enterprise. Shawnna Bolick is dedicated to these principles and she has common sense. If we are going to win this battle over fiscal responsibility, we need more citizens like Shawnna serving in the Arizona Legislature.”
~ Jean McGrath
current Member of Maricopa Community College District's Governing Board, District 4
former Central Arizona Project Board of Directors
former Arizona legislator

“I heartily endorse Shawnna Bolick for the Legislative District 20 State House of Representatives because of her conservative philosophy and experience in all areas of education. Her contributions to the legislative decision-making would resolve long-standing problems we now face. She knows her stuff!”
~ Johanna Haver
current Member of Maricopa County Community College Governing Board, District 3

Bolick stated, “I am thankful for our continued support for our legislative run. I have gotten to know these fine individuals through my community involvement. I got to know Mr. Taylor while serving on the Arizona State Board of Education’s Standards Committee and value his insights.” She added, “from Kindergarten to the community college level I believe we can give the power back to the consumer and away from the bureaucrats trying to control each and every decision meant for parents, teachers and students.”

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By The Goldwater Institute

Partisan gridlock in Congress is often the rule, but there are the occasional and notable exceptions. In the recent spending bill, lawmakers successfully repealed the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)—one of the most extreme examples of consolidated, unchecked government power in American history. As the only organization to have challenged IPAB in court, we’re celebrating the elimination of what columnist George Will called “the most anti-constitutional law ever written.”

Enacted eight years ago as part of the Affordable Care Act, IPAB was created as a cost-saving mechanism for the Medicare program for the nation’s elderly, but its authority was far broader. The unelected Board wielded unprecedented power to write healthcare rules that would automatically become law without a vote of Congress, signature of the president, notice to the public, or review by the courts.

Some fiscal conservatives are now lamenting the fact that, by repealing IPAB, Congress has removed important checks on uncontrolled Medicare spending. This is an issue that should not be ignored. True, the Medicare program is in desperate need of modernization and financial overhaul, and IPAB would have been a tool to control those costs. But the costs to our Constitution would have been far greater. Those doubting the dangers that IPAB posed should consider the following:

IPAB’s authority was not limited to Medicare. IPAB had much broader powers to make law governing both government and private healthcare—whatever the Board considered “related to the Medicare program.” IPAB’s toolbox was vast: It could enact price controls and even levy taxes. And those decisions would have been free of any meaningful checks or balances.

IPAB’s power was consolidated in one individual. Some viewed Congress’s repeal of IPAB as premature—after all, neither President Obama nor Trump had appointed any members to the Board, and it had not yet taken any actions. But lack of membership was only more cause for concern. So long as IPAB remained unstaffed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services alone wielded the Board’s vast powers.

IPAB’s decisions were not subject to judicial review. IPAB’s so-called “recommendations” would have automatically become law, without review by Congress or the courts. In other words, the ACA left unaccountable bureaucrats free to make decisions that could affect public and private healthcare for millions of Americans.

IPAB had the power to ration care. Many mistakenly believed that IPAB was prohibited from rationing healthcare. But what constitutes rationing? The ACA never defined “rationing care”—instead, it left the Board to define rationing however it wished, and it prohibited patients and doctors from turning to the courts for protection if the Board stopped them from receiving or delivering care. In other words, IPAB put bureaucrats in charge of deciding what type and how much medical care people should receive. That system would have deprived patients of access to needed care—increasing centralized decision making at the expense of individual healthcare decisions.

The U.S. Constitution gives the lawmaking power to Congress alone because legislators are responsible to their constituents and checked by the other branches of government. No agency can be rendered exempt from democratic processes and the rule of law. That is why Congress should be lauded for repealing the unchecked and unprecedented consolidation of bureaucratic power.

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By: Scottsdale Pinetop

In the political world, there are only two reasons to visit New Hampshire in the middle of March – snow and New Hampshire is the first state to vote in a presidential primary.

When politicians head to New Hampshire, it tends to raise eyebrows. That’s exactly what happened for Senator Jeff Flake last week when it was announced he would be attending the New Hampshire Institute for Politics’ “Politics and Eggs” breakfast.

Evidence suggests that Flake is beginning to tease the idea of a presidential run.

In September, Senator Flake released his personal memoir “Conscience of a Conservative” that defended his political philosophies, criticized the Trump Administration and expressed his concerns for the future of the Republican Party. Shortly after the book’s publication, Flake announced that he would not be running for re-election in 2018. To many this was political suicide.

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By Scottsdale Pinetop

Low salaries have many teachers seeing red. Arizona educators have decided to send a message that the current status quo for school funding is unacceptable.

Arizona administrators, educators, parents and students have now joined the West Virginia teacher’s movement by wearing red to school and urging others to do the same.

What first started as a small online grassroots effort, #RedforEd has now become a full blown social media movement of angry Arizona teachers demanding change from state leaders.

Over the years, parents and teachers have become outraged by the state’s sluggish response to the teacher crisis that has forced many educators to leave the classroom – even out of the state. But is anyone really listening?

For the Arizona State Legislature, it seems like pay-raise decisions are nearly impossible to pass. While individual school districts have the final say in deciding teacher salaries, schools remain funded by the state government. This leaves many schools left in the dark when creating annual school year budgets. 

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PHOENIX – State Treasurer Jeff DeWit announced yesterday during the State Board of Investment meeting that the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund, also referred to as the Schools’ Trust Fund, has hit a record market value of more than $6 Billion.

Even with increased distributions totaling more than $793 million to Endowment beneficiaries, which is more than three times that of any previous treasurer, the endowment has grown in excess of $1 billion during Treasurer DeWit’s tenure.

“Credit for this achievement goes to the dedicated work of Senior Portfolio Manager Tim White who has managed the fund for nearly 20 years, along with the rest of the investment staff, and the members of the State Board of Investment,” Treasurer DeWit said.

Treasurer DeWit, who is chairman of the State Board of Investment, also noted that the Treasurer’s office reached another milestone in January with the month ending value of all investments at $15.85 Billion, an all-time high for assets under management.

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