Bradley working across the aisle again for kids

Proponents of a program that links foster children with education advocates to improve their success in school want the Arizona Legislature to expand a pilot program now used just in Pima County.

The director of FosterEd: Arizona made the pitch Wednesday to a group of lawmakers at the state Capitol. Former state Rep. Pete Hershberger told several lawmakers who attended the briefing that foster children often fall far behind their peers, drop out at higher rates and often fail to graduate from high school.

Studies show that former foster children are 25 percent more likely to experience homelessness or incarceration, 33 percent get public assistance and the unemployment rate tops 50 percent.

“These and the incalculable health care costs are huge burdens to the Arizona taxpayer,” Hershberger said.

Read more:

Arizona heightens oversight of medications for foster children

“I constantly felt stoned and high,” says Luna, now 28, who has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “You’re never given the chance to properly grow. … Therapists ask, ‘How’s your medication?’ Not ‘How are you?’”

Arizona foster children were 4.4 times more likely than nonfoster children on Medicaid to be prescribed powerful psychotropic drugs, a report based on 2008 data found.

Read the complete story on the Arizona Daily Star website.

Children’s Champion Honored

FFCF-AZ-logo LD-10 Sen. David Bradley’s tireless efforts on behalf of Arizona’s kids will be recognized this weekend in Phoenix. Bradley is set to receive the Arizona Friends of Foster Care Foundation’s J.Robert Pierson Award for lifetime achievement as a legislator, counselor and child welfare and mental health services administrator. The ceremony is set for 4-6 p.m. Saturday May 10 at the Ritz-Carlton on Camelback Ave.


Senator-David-Bradley Sen. Bradley also received word this week that he won the 2014 Cicero Speechwriting Award in Education for his speech “Connecting Education to Home School and Community,” presented last year to the Arizona School Counselors Association.

Politico – America’s Most Puzzling Governor – By REED KARAIM March 06, 2014

Brewer defended the cuts as necessary for a state deeply in the red. Here, once again, she slips easy classification. Brewer also supported a 1 percent increase in the state sales tax to help fund education, despite facing Republican primary opposition when running for her first full term. “The 1 percent sales tax was fairly courageous,” says State Sen. David Bradley, a Tucson Democrat. “The cuts to education would have been so much more drastic without it.”

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Arizona Senate panel votes to dump Common Core

By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — Ignoring pleas from business leaders, the Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 along party lines Thursday to bar Arizona from implementing the Common Core standards the state adopted four years ago.

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, who championed SB 1310, said he believes the concept of some nationally recognized standards started out as a “pretty admirable pursuit by the private sector and governors.”

“It got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,” said Melvin, a candidate for governor, and “as a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department.”

Melvin’s comments led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to ask him whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by 45 states.

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Approval of SB 1310 was just part of the attack on Common Core by Education Committee Republicans.

The panel approved three other measures that, in one form or another, would take away the power of the state to set educational standards and instead leave that role to local school boards. The only requirement would be that the local standards could be no lower than those set by the Board of Education in 1999.

And the committee defeated another bill that would have paved the way for a pilot program to replace textbooks with computers. Foes like parent Jennifer Reynolds said she sees the computers as part of Common Core, and part of a move to have students “indoctrinated of the concepts of global warming, evolution, defaming the Founders.”

The votes took place despite warnings from corporate executives and business groups that any move away from Common Core is a bad idea.

“Our standards and our expectations were set too low,” said Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said business leaders worked with governors to come up with new ones designed to ensure that high school graduates have the skills they need to work or go on to college.

And Chad Heinrich, lobbyist for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, warned this is a step backward that could make Arizona high school graduates unemployable.

“We have workforce needs that we would prefer to meet by hiring Arizona graduates,” Heinrich said. “If Arizona graduates are not prepared, our employers could be forced to look to other states to fill those needs.”

Corporate executives signed in opposing the measure include those representing Intel, Sundt Construction, Sunbelt Holdings and Bank of America.

The legislation still must go through the full Senate and Gov. Jan Brewer.

Brewer renamed the new curriculum “Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards” in response to the hostility toward the “Common Core” name some see as representing a federal intrusion. But Brewer press aide Anne Dockendorff said in a prepared statement Thursday that the governor remains convinced the new standards, by whatever name, are worth keeping.

“It is more imperative than ever that Arizona students are well-equipped to meet the needs of a competitive workforce,” Dockendorff said. She said Brewer sees the standards as “a leap in the right direction” and is “committed to seeing their successful implementation.”

State schools superintendent John Huppenthal also has said he believes the standards will “raise the bar for our students and better prepare them to succeed as they move on to college or career pathways.”

But for Melvin, the issue relates to how students are doing.

He said the United States spends more money per child than any other country but ranks 20th or lower in most categories.

“I’m worried about our country keeping its international status as a world power with this miserable academic performance,” he said. “We have cheated several generations of Americans out of a decent education.”

However, Christine Thompson, executive director of the state Board of Education, said the record shows improvements in scores by Arizona students in the National Assessment of Educational Progress since the state adopted the Common Core standards.

Melvin said at least part of his opposition to Common Core is not limited to what he believes it does. He also fears what it might become — an “Obamacare”-like mass of federal regulations coming from “unelected bureaucrats.”

Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, said states have adopted these standards with the promise of federal funds.

“It certainly smelled a little bit like coercion,” she said. And Yee said having a single approach to education “gets a little bit scary.”

David Bradley: governor’s CARE Team appointments to deal with CPS

The governor’s selection of the Child Advocate Response Examination (CARE)Team is the right step. Particularly gratifying is the selection of Charles Flanigan to chair the team. Mr. Flanigan is the most articulate and skilled child advocate in the governor’s cabinet. Prior to any special sessions or requests for money the CARE team must carry out its assignment both comprehensively and expeditiously.

The cycle we find ourselves in is all too familiar. Exposure, outrage, demands, minor changes, maybe even some new resources allocated, a period of waning interest and repeat. The cycle maybe set off by a horrific incident, series of incidents or as in the current situation exposure of egregious errors of omission or commission.

CPS’s performance becomes news usually in the negative, it’s thick catalog of saved lives and averted crises is rarely newsworthy. The heroic actions of many dedicated workers are desecrated by the actions or inactions of its leadership and the sheer volume of its workload that inevitably results in children slipping through cracks with tragic consequences.

The response to the current crisis should include a stepping back to view the status of children in this state from a broader perspective, specifically, that child protection be seen not solely as the duty of one agency but as the obligation of all us in the public and private sector. Children in danger is not just a problem for a DES director but should also be accepted as an acute crisis for the business, education, healthcare, law enforcement, justice and faith communities.

It is often said that it takes a village to raise the child, the reverse is more compelling. It takes a child to raise the village. The peril of children should activate not only outrage at one agency but action at all levels.

Children are being ravaged in this state by poverty, violence, substance abuse and mental illness. Some, not the majority, come to the attention of CPS. Six thousand cases not investigated is but the tip of the iceberg of pervasive and systemic societal problems that face children every day.

I hope the CARE team will consider some bold ideas so that we can interrupt the cycle noted above. The public sector is currently in many silos that struggle to communicate with each other and often work at cross purposes. Let’s consider aggregating those services directed at children and create a separate Department of Youth Services (DYS) that reports directly to the governor. Let’s, for instance, put CPS, juvenile justice, behavioral health services for all children, childcare, licensing of services, early childhood programs, public health prevention and intervention programs under its direction.

Let the private sector come forward and partner with a newly formed DYS to provide as many of these services as is practical with the central values being rapid response, coordination of care and comprehensive intervention and treatment. Since poverty is the number one school performance problem, school districts must become full partners in this plan as well, for it is at school where children’s challenges are often first exposed. They will need resources to respond effectively.

The CARE team has the opportunity to, on the one hand, lower the rhetoric and, on the other, to raise the stakes to actually do something for children in this state that will offer long term solutions to these complex problems.

David Bradley

State Senator District 10