Monday, November 7, 2016

This Is How We Do It! Kristel Ann Foster for TUSD!!

We’ve been busy!!  Check out all the campaigning that’s been going on to support Democrats up and down the ballot!!  

                                With Vice President Candidate Tim Kaine.....

...with labor legend Dolores Huerta!

....even some Hollywood at Tucson Comi Con 
with actor Tony Todd. 

....and some All Souls' participants 
just before the procession.

We gathered to canvass door-to-door ... call voters....

 ...collaborating with other campaigns....

...coming together for our public schools, 
our local district, to keep our voice on our Board! 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I am only voting for two candidates: Cam Juarez and Kristel Ann Foster (Part Two)

TUSD -- Part Two
by Ann-Eve Pedersen

I sent this message today to people who received an email from TUSD board candidate Mark Stegeman, challenging me to a debate based on my prior Facebook post.

Mark Stegeman, in an email to many of you, referenced a message that I posted on my personal Facebook page indicating why I will not be voting for him for the TUSD board. In his email to you, Mark Stegeman said he would like to challenge me to a debate. Although he did not send this request to me, many of you forwarded it on to me. If Mark Stegeman would like to help me share a much more optimistic perspective of TUSD than he holds, in a public setting before the election, I would be happy to do so.

I am a TUSD parent, a former TUSD student and a volunteer public education advocate who cares deeply about the quality of our community’s largest school district. As a TUSD parent, I have noticed improvements in our schools under the current board majority: Cam Juarez, Kristel Foster and Adelita Grijalva and under the current superintendent, H.T. Sanchez.

I have seen enrollment in the district pull out of a free fall and start to rise. I have seen the end to rampant school closures, with the repurposing of some schools into early-education centers. I have seen much, much improved communication with parents, both at the district level and the school level. I have seen teachers move from other districts to take jobs within TUSD. On a daily basis, I see highly dedicated teachers, principals, counselors, librarians, coaches, support staff and district-level employees working very hard to provide a quality-level education for our children.

Is there room for improvement? Of course. There always will be in a large institution with an elected board. But in a state that so dismally funds its public schools — failing its children and their teachers — TUSD, like all districts, faces problems endemic to lack of adequate funding, such as teacher shortages and crumbling infrastructure. Arizona faces the worst teacher shortage in the nation and the Governor and state Legislature have seen fit to defund basic school repairs.

In times like these — when we have a Governor and a state Legislature intent on dismantling public education by dramatically defunding it and then claiming it is inextricably broken — we dot not have the luxury of keeping dysfunctional board members in a role where they either wittingly or unwittingly do the state Legislature’s bidding for them. A watchdog is different than an attack dog.

We live in an era where some, including elected officials, work diligently to tear down public institutions, often with misinformation and misleading information. That is unfortunate, especially when tearing down those public institutions, such as school districts, actually harms children, who do not have the power to vote.

All of you are community leaders. Your opinions matter, as does where you receive your information. Sometimes when all you hear is that something is completely broken, it’s easy to believe that is the case. That’s one reason I decided to respond, rather than let Mark Stegeman’s comments continue to go unanswered.

As a TUSD parent and a statewide public education advocate who has observed not only TUSD but other school districts at a close level for more than eight years, I can tell you that Mark Stegeman’s doom-and-gloom constant narrative about TUSD is not true. (Nor is his statement that he has only interacted with me only two or three times over the past eight years. That statement is false. I’m not sure why he would say something misleading about such a small matter.)

Again, I would be happy to share my perspective in a public forum before the election organized by a neutral organization with no ties to any TUSD board candidate.

Ann-Eve Pedersen

TUSD parent and volunteer public education advocate

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Kristel Ann Foster: Keep TUSD on the right track

Tucson Unified has no time for tomato throwing, as my fellow TUSD Governing Board member shared last week. We must focus on a shared vision, not board drama, and commit to moving our school district forward.
When Cam Juárez and I were elected to the Governing Board in 2012, it changed the TUSD board majority and the direction of the district. One of our first votes was to halt the outsourcing of transportation, custodians, payroll and human resources. We also unbanned books and approved culturally relevant classes, which mirror (as much as the law allows) the successful Mexican American Studies classes that the previous board suspended.
In 2014, we approved a Strategic Plan that 400 stakeholders helped to create, providing us with a precise vision and necessary steps to improve TUSD facilities, communication, curriculum, finance and diversity, all of which align to our desegregation plan.
This blueprint allows us to focus on concrete work, rather than endlessly criticizing administration. With this guiding framework, already, we have reopened closed schools as early childhood centers to better connect with younger students. We established community centers to help struggling families meet their basic needs. We installed solar and implemented school garden programs to model sustainability and responsible citizenship. With the help of community leaders, we re-enrolled more than 500 students who had dropped out of school. We increased academic achievement and decreased suspension rates of minority students to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. And finally, we are just months away from settling our 40-year old desegregation case.Most impressively, we have done an about-face when it comes to our notorious enrollment loss. In fact, 228 more K-12 students have entered TUSD since the 40th day of the 2015-16 school year compared to the 52nd school day this year.
This shows a growing trust and belief in TUSD and will increase our state funding by almost $4 million.
In 2016, if our school board changes direction we could return to the chaos we previously saw with more school closures, outsourcing of blue-collar staff and a setback in our desegregation case. We cannot let that happen. I value our neighborhood schools, and I owe our accomplishments to the diligent work that custodians, cafeteria workers, school secretaries, bus drivers, principals and teachers do every day for our students in TUSD.
We have seen more sensationalized stories and misinformation than ever before during this election year. Our local races matter just as much as the presidency, especially when it comes to our kids. With your vote for TUSD, please do your research and consider individuals who are collaborative, focused on kids and schools and will commit to moving the district forward in a positive direction.
Kristel Ann Foster is running for re-election to the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Kristel Ann Foster Never Voted to Close a Single School


By Sarah Launius
There’s some real mixed messages coming from some of the TUSD Board Candidates on where they stand on school closures. You may have seen these signs up at Campbell near 6th Street.
When I saw these new signs last week I had two thoughts. First, the signs seemed completely inaccurate based on what I know. Second, I was infuriated that the “TUSD Kids First” assume that the general public is so stupid that they somehow wouldn’t know this.
Here’s the thing, beyond anything else, the TUSD Kids First campaign is endorsing Stegeman, Rustand and Betts. Of all the candidates, Stegeman is the ONLY one who has, in fact, closed schools. So, give me a break.
We’ve written about the responses to our school closure questions at the TUSD Candidate forum on October 13 here, where we include background necessary to aid our neighbors in making an informed decision.
David Safier, writing for the Tucson Weekly, also recently published on how candidates have shifted their statements on school closures during the race as well as contradictions with the voting records for the three incumbents.  You can find Safier’s piece here.
Safier mentions a few pieces that we missed. First, he discusses the operational efficiency audit that we reference in our previous blog (see too Sedgwick’s comment to Safier’s piece – but you might get disgusted if you read all the comments like we did). He also identifies statements from Rustand and Sedgwick from the forum at Palo Verde High School that indicate they believe closures should be on the table. Sedgwick discusses the possible need for school consolidations in a response to gender-neutral bathrooms in schools–which was probably an honest response from her but certainly didn’t require her to discuss consolidations. You can find that here around 1:12:00. She takes it up again around 1:35:00. Rustand discusses how TUSD may have to make hard decisions about school closures. You can find it here around 1:34:00.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I am only voting for two candidates: Cam Juarez and Kristel Ann Foster

Tucson friends: I've been asked how I'm voting in the TUSD school board race. I am only voting for two candidates: Cam Juarez and Kristel Ann Foster.  I know that they sincerely have the best interests of students and teachers at heart.

I don't believe in the politics of personal destruction but at some point I also think it can be irresponsible for people who have background knowledge about candidates not to share that information at a critical time. That's why I am reposting what I wrote earlier this year about TUSD incumbent Mark Stegeman following an op-ed he wrote for the Star. This is my personal viewpoint based on many, many interactions with Stegeman over the years.

Anyone reading this can take or leave it. It is my personal perspective and I'll decline to engage in any dialogue on FB about it.  --Ann-Eve

What is the difference between a reformer and a saboteur? It mostly comes down to motivations. A reformer wants to improve an institution or an organization because it’s the right thing to do. A saboteur acts out of self-interest, pursuing a personal power game. It can become confusing when a saboteur poses as a reformer. By doing so, the saboteur tries to convince people that he is looking out for the organization, when in fact he is trying to undermine it for personal gain.

That is the agenda deployed by Mark Stegeman, who is running for re-election to the TUSD school board. As a TUSD parent and a public education advocate, I have watched Stegeman in action now for many years. I have seen him undermine superintendent after superintendent. I have witnessed him sow seeds of division at school board meetings.
I have watched as he cynically sells his twisted story about TUSD to members of the public.

This is not how functional school board members behave. Yes, they must be watchdogs, not just cheerleaders. But at what point do a school board member’s actions cross over into being destructive rather than constructive? That is a line Stegeman crossed long ago.In his recent op-ed to the Star, he once again launched into his typical diatribe against TUSD, a perspective that the Star’s news section often parrots. Although his op-ed was incredibly self-serving, given that he is running for re-election, the Star ran it anyway, not giving the same space to the other candidates. By doing so, the Star allowed Stegeman to once again spread his twisted story about TUSD. Why is the Star giving so much weight to an individual who has worked so diligently to harm an institution that must succeed for the health of our community’s children and economic development? 

Failure is not an option for our public schools. Yet Stegeman is trying to ensure that it happens. In that way, he has much in common with Arizona’s state Legislature. I could counter his arguments point by point, but facts are not really what matter to Stegeman. He also shares that trait with anti-public education legislators. 

It’s all about selling a story. So, here’s how Stegeman’s story goes: TUSD is horribly screwed up. I’m really important because I constantly point out how horribly screwed up TUSD is. Although I’ve done absolutely nothing to fix what I constantly point out as being horribly screwed up, you should re-elect me so I can keep telling you how horribly screwed up TUSD is.

So, TUSD voters, is this really someone you really want to re-elect? This circular narrative really doesn’t do anyone any good – it’s a disservice to our community’s children who attend TUSD schools.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Kristel Ann Foster explains -- "Opt-In" or "Opt-Out"

Kristel Ann Foster was asked...The Arizona State Senate refused to hear SB 1020, which would have made sex education opt-out rather than opt-in. Can you explain why this seemingly small change would have made such a big difference?

She answered..."The main difference between opt-in and opt-out has to do with what is the “norm.” If we have to get permission from parents to teach specific content through opting in, it’s as if that particular curriculum is not the norm. This insinuates controversy and taboo, something you have to get permission to do. Knowledge of how one’s body works and how to keep it safe and healthy should not be controversial or taboo.

When a set curriculum is the norm and certain parents choose to opt out, well then, it’s the prerogative of the parent to perceive the content as controversial, but the standard understanding is that it is simply normal.

Imagine if we had students opt in to saying the Pledge of Allegiance. We don’t, because we hold that as the norm for all to recite at the beginning of every school day. There is nothing controversial or taboo about that. Certain parents, however, decide to opt their children out of this practice, and the opinion of whether or not the Pledge is controversial lies with them, and doesn’t affect the majority of people who consider the Pledge to be an appropriate and normal routine to practice every day."

Thank you Planned Parenthood for endorsing Kristel Ann Foster for TUSD!