Back to School for Us All

August 3, 2017
Back to School blog post for LD18Democrats
By K. Tice

Summer always goes by too quickly it seems.  As a teacher myself, I’ve actually been back in school for the past three weeks.  My day-to-day is filled with prepping for elementary music classes and I have many questions about the big picture for education in the state of Arizona and the long term effects on my students and the health of our state.  This is my fifteenth year teaching.  It really is hard to believe.  Education and educational theory have gone through many augmentations of both practice and language – including words like multicultural in the 90’s, to the trend of project-based learning in the 2000’s, to the promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), then STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math), and the latest word one can hear in any educational discussion: rigorous.  While the buzz words and trends come and go, the educational distress of Arizona is ever-increasing.

I had the opportunity to participate with the Save Our Schools Arizona campaign this summer where my own education continued to grow, so I’ll share a few fast facts that have been sourced by one of their fabulous team members.  Arizona ranks 48th for public school funding and in student achievement outcomes.  Arizona is last in the nation in median pay for teachers.  Arizona began the 2016-17 school year with approximately to 2,200 unstaffed classrooms.  (Source)  Did you know that the number one reason that businesses avoid locating in Arizona is an uneducated workforce? (Source)  Arizona (and its students) are being presented as ground zero in the promotion of the school choice movement.  How we can expect students and school districts to be successful, when they receive cut after cut after cut in funding for materials, school lunches, before and after school programs, certified teaching staffing, support staffing or even transportation?

While the fight for public school funding in Arizona continues, those of us in public school classrooms take stock.  Being a teacher is not only about teaching content, it is about people.  It is about the sometimes messy day-to-day of what life is like for kids, no matter their age.  It is about giving students the tools they need to be successful as they make decisions as kids and later as adults. It is about making a difference, and yes, content is important. As members of our community it is our job to ensure that ALL kids have what they need to be successful, not just those that attend private or charter schools.  This requires us to support ALL schools and ALL students.

Below are a few pictures from the Back to School drive at Threadz sponsored by the LD18 Democrats, Dems Give Back group.  This is one of the ways that LD18 supports back-to-school for all students in our area.

 

Amberwood Park Clean Up in Chandler

For those who may have missed this on social media, we thought we’d share our video from the Amberwood Park Clean Up.  The next one will be on Saturday, August 19th from 7am to 8am.  For more information, see our Adopt-a-Park Chandler page.

Fireworks Safety

July 1, 2017
Fireworks Safety blog post for LD18Democrats
By David Hoye

Planning to celebrate Fourth of July with a backyard fireworks show? It’s a good idea to check local laws and safety recommendations before lighting any fuses. After all, nobody wants the thrilling “BOOM! and AHHH!” replaced with “BOOM! and OUCH!”

In the not-too-distant past, consumer fireworks were banned in Arizona. But state lawmakers changed things a few years ago and created two annual windows of opportunity for folks to make noise and light up the night sky in celebration of Independence Day and New Year’s Day.

The dates are a bit tricky. According to the Chandler Police Department, certain types of consumer fireworks can be sold each year between May 20 and July 6 and between Dec. 10 and Jan. 3. But the windows to use those fireworks are slightly different: June 24 to July 6 and Dec. 24 to Jan. 3.

Law-abiding citizens will want to note that those roadside stands and grocery store displays make fireworks available for sale weeks before it’s legal to use them.

Another thing to note before your big celebration is where to use fireworks. Typically, fireworks are prohibited on publicly owned property including parks, parking lots, streets, sidewalks and on government property including schools. All that limits fireworks to private property but even there revelers need to make sure to secure permission in advance from the property owner.

So what kinds of fireworks are Ok? First off, the state law allowing the use of consumer fireworks doesn’t apply to “novelty” items such as sparklers or party poppers. But it does regulate things like cylindrical and cone fountains, illuminating torches, wheels, ground spinners and ground sparkling devices. Generally speaking, “consumer fireworks” don’t fly in the air or explode. That means other types of fireworks, such as bottle rockets, M-80s and firecrackers, remain illegal. A handy chart that illustrates all this is maintained by the City of Phoenix. (https://www.phoenix.gov/firesite/Documents/083287.pdf)

What about safety? Ask just a firefighter and you’ll likely get an earful about the dangers fireworks pose to people and pets as well as to the desert environment in which we all live. Many fire agencies opposed both the 2014 law that forced cities and towns to allow consumer fireworks and a failed 2016 bill that would have expanded the use and sale of fireworks.

But others argue that consumer fireworks, if responsibly used, can play an exciting role in just about any Fourth of July or New Year’s Eve celebration. Numerous online sources, including the National Council on Fireworks Safety (http://www.fireworkssafety.org/safety-tips), provide lists of safety tips. A few common recommendations include:

  • Know and follow all local fireworks laws and regulations
  • A responsible adult should oversee any use of fireworks
  • Wear safety glasses
  • Children should not be given fireworks or allowed to ignite them
  • Light fireworks one at a time and move away quickly
  • Use fireworks outdoors away from structures or vehicles
  • Keep a source of water handy
  • Save alcohol consumption until after the show
  • Keep pets away from fireworks
  • Make sure your pet has an ID tag in case it runs off

Interested in learning more? A good place to start might be your city’s Website! Here are some handy links: