By Elisha Dorfsmith
Tonight the Flagstaff Unified School District governing board was presented with the rough draft of a proposed new anti bullying policy. Assistant Superintendent Dave Dirksen recommended that the board adopt a totally new policy rather than revising the old policy. The board will review the new policy and give recommendations on wording and content in the coming weeks. Included in tonight’s rough draft was the highly anticipated “Definition of Bullying” It reads:
“For the purpose of this policy, harassment, intimidation and bullying means any gesture, any written, verbal, physical conduct or any electronic communication whether a single incident or a series of incidents based on real or perceived actions towards any person or group or that person’s friends, relatives or associates because of someone’s race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, sex, gender expression or identity or sexual orientation.”
Several parents have contacted me expressing concerns that the new definition may be too broad and could lead to innocent kids and teachers being accused. Others have told me that a broad definition is essential if the district plans to seriously address the problem of school bullying.
I would appreciate feedback from my readers on the above proposed definition. If you have an opinion one way or the other, please let me know in the comments section of my blog.
A big part of tonight’s meeting was budget related. Budget & Finance Director Ken Garland gave a presentation on several different scenarios the district could face. He said that one of the main reasons for the district’s budget shortfall is the reduction of students (including many “weighted” students with special needs).
Dave Dirksen said that the district plans on reducing special education employees such as counselors, psychologists, speech therapists and other paraprofessionals.
“When we have fewer students we need fewer personnel.” Dirksen explained.
Besides the reduction in special education staff, the district plans to run the programs more efficiently than they have in the past in order to save funds. Mr. Dirksen reiterated that these programs will still be as effective as they are now, even with the cuts.
FUSD will have a public budget session at 5:30 on Tuesday, May 3rd. The location is not listed on the district website yet but you can contact Executive Assistant Kim Branges at (928) 527-6002 for details. I will update my blog as soon as I have the location information available.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Few potential 2012 presidential contenders appeal to young voters the way Ron Paul does. Today I had this fact illustrated firsthand when I went to a local bookstore to buy a couple copies of Liberty Defined. As I set my books on the counter, the girl at the register glanced at them and her eyes lit up. She was not aware that Ron Paul had a new book out. I explained that it was just released yesterday. She said that in 2008, she and her parents were very involved in the “revolution” in the Sacramento, CA area. They spent hours waving signs and handing out Ron Paul literature like so many other liberty activists across the country. She asked if I thought he would actually run in 2012. I told her that I was pretty sure he would. Her eyes lit up again as she explained that she had just turned 18 and could not wait to vote for Dr. Paul this time around.
Liberty Defined is not the kind of book you would expect from a potential candidate gearing up for an election. Rather than playing political games and pandering, Paul cuts straight to the issues regardless of how controversial they may be. I think it’s safe to say that Liberty Defined will make everyone feel uncomfortable at one point or another…even libertarians.
This kind of focus and conviction is what makes Ron Paul so appealing to young voters. While many may disagree with him from time to time, they know that he is not there to make the masses feel warm and fuzzy in their comfort zones. He’s not there to make empty promises. He’s not interested in being popular.
Liberty Defined covers 50 issues categorized alphabetically from Abortion to Zionism. Talk about loaded topics and the potential for knee jerk reactions. No other modern presidential contender would ever be so brave. Paul tackles each topic more eloquently than I have ever seen him write or speak before. He uses history, facts, and personal experience in his effort to carefully apply the philosophy of liberty to each issue. The result is a masterpiece that is unlike anything I have ever read. I challenge anyone (even those who disagree with what he says) to read this book and come back and tell me that Dr. Paul is not being 100% straightforward and honest. Liberty Defined is essential reading for every liberty activist.
As I have mentioned several times on my blog in the past, my wife and I plan to be very involved with the Northern Arizona Ron Paul campaign when he makes it official. Dr. Paul has his paperwork filled out and ready to submit and he should be announcing his presidential run in the coming weeks. In anticipation of his announcement, I took the liberty of starting a Flagstaff Ron Paul 2012 Facebook page. Please join and invite your friends. The sooner we start meeting and planning, the more organized we will be!
A couple days ago I stumbled across my album of Ron Paul’s visit to ASU in 2009. What an exciting event. The enthusiasm among college students was incredible! I am posting a few of the pictures below. Let the revolution continue!
A crowd gathers before Ron Paul speaks.
Ron Paul at ASU December, 2009.
Lighting the fires of liberty.
Dorfsmith family on the front row.
Ron Paul and my son Adrian.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Don Peavey traces his passion for political activism back to the Ron Paul Revolution of 2008. Finally, someone on the national level was saying what he had been thinking for years and that inspired him to get involved and try to make a difference.
When Ron Paul lost the Republican primary, Don continued to stay active in local politics. He spent a great deal of time working with with the States’ Rights Coalition Of Northern Arizona and fighting oppressive city ordinances like the infamous crackdown on Heritage Square.
As a steady surge of liberty oriented media outlets like Free Talk Live hit the Web, Don was inspired to try his hand at alternative media and began setting up interviews with local politicos and activists. He recorded a series of audio podcasts with guests that spanned the political spectrum from Flagstaff City Council member Art Babbott to the late David Nolan (co-founder of the Libertarian party).
A few months ago, Don had the opportunity to switch from audio to video and the podcast evolved into Free Flagstaff Media, an alternative media outlet that is touted as an “independent voice in an independent city”. Free Flagstaff Media offers a wide range of videos covering everything from activism to culture to local politics. It also includes some fantastic interviews with local personalities. So far, Don has interviewed Craig Watkins, Joe Donaldson, and Jeff Oravits.
“Independent media and the internet have pretty much made it so anybody can do whatever they want and there’s really nothing anybody can do about it.” Says Don. “I can say things I couldn’t say on regular TV.”
As more and more Americans realize that the mainstream media is more interested in defending the status quo than speaking the truth, the appeal of alternative media will continue to grow. It’s exciting to see outlets like Free Flagstaff Media bypassing the confines of traditional news and exercising the freedom to say what they want.
You can contact Free Flagstaff Media HERE.
Also, be sure to “like” the Free Flagstaff Media facebook page.
Hanging out with Don Peavey at Flagstaff Brewing Company.
Don discusses Free Flagstaff Media.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Jeff Oravits, business owner and longtime Flagstaff resident addressed the Flagstaff City Council tonight about excessive regulation and fees that have forced his tenant’s church to shut it’s doors. Oravits explained that his tenant’s church was recently slapped with a stop work order when they attempted to turn two small offices into one large space.
After a series of run-ins with City Hall, they eventually told his tenant that the church needed a conditional use permit ($1,500) to make sure that it “is in the public good”. Oravits wondered if the City is in any position to judge if a church is in the public good. He cited The U.S. Constitution, Federal law and a City ordinance in defense of religious freedom and assembly.
Oravits hopes the City Of Flagstaff will consider this issue when they make changes to their Land Development Code in the coming weeks. He said they need to find ways to “help and not hurt small businesses in Flagstaff.”
Jeff has written several blogs that detail the situation. His most recent post can be found HERE.
Yesterday, Jeff was interviewed on the Mitch and Joe Show about the church. A podcast of that show can be found HERE. The interview with Jeff starts about 10 minutes in.
If you would like to voice your opinion about this issue, please contact the Flagstaff City Council. I would also appreciate your thoughts in the comments section of my blog.
Jeff Oravits and his tenant at Flagstaff City Hall before tonight’s meeting.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Hand wringing over a $6 million gap in next year’s FUSD budget has started and once again, district supporters are pointing fingers at everyone but themselves. As usual, the finger pointing comes accompanied by lies and accusations that I cannot ignore.
The biggest lie perpetuated by FUSD supporters is the lie that Arizona charter schools receive special treatment and funding and have more freedom in terms of enrollment than district schools. We are led to believe that charter schools have it made while district schools are dealing with all kinds of unfair disadvantages. This debate has been going on for a long time and FUSD champions are still using the same old tired arguments.
One of FUSD’s most vocal supporters recently said the following when I pointed out the success of certain charter schools:
“BUT remember, Charter schools don’t spend money on transportation and don’t take special ed students. So comparing public to charter is not really that fair.”
Charter schools don’t take special ed students??? Really? I though I cleared that up a while ago when I posted a blog proving that Arizona Charter Schools MUST Accept All Students.
If that’s not bad enough, I was recently told by a friend that two other big district supporters have frequently said that certain local charters will not take non-white students. These kinds of lies show just how low some people are willing to stoop in their defense of the status quo. It’s sickening and it needs to stop.
Now let’s take a closer look at funding:
Can somebody honestly tell me how FUSD can lose hundreds of students each year and expect their budget to keep increasing? How many students will they lose before they decide that it’s time to cut back? I’m sure you know the answer to both questions. In fact, district defenders will say that the reason they are losing students is because they are underfunded. It’s so much easier to play the blame game than to take an objective look at yourself.
If anybody should be crying, it should be charter schools.
When was the last time a charter school was allowed a budget override? When was the last time a charter made an accounting error that overcharged taxpayers and was not forced to immediately pay it back? Of course, the answer is never. Charters are often forced to hold private fundraisers just to get by. Here are some interesting facts:
Funding for charter and district schools is different in several ways, such as
(1) district schools receive money from property taxes, and charter schools
do not receive property tax money; (2) district schools receive money from
bonds and levies, and charter schools do not have access to this money; and
(3) district schools receive state funding for new buildings and building
improvements, and charter schools are not eligible for this money.
So is the Flagstaff Unified School District really a victim or do charter schools have a much bigger uphill battle to fight? I think it’s time to get past the emotional knee jerk reactions and look at the truth.
Charter schools are clearly at a financial disadvantage.
For more information on the state of local charter schools, the Arizona Daily Sun helps put things in perspective HERE.
As far as the charter enrollment myth, I think I have a solution for those who keep insisting that charter schools are turning away special ed students even though it’s against the law. Let’s inform parents of their rights. FUSD should explain on the front page of their website that charter schools are required by law to accept all students. When parents of students with learning disabilities realize they were lied to and start pulling their kids out of the district and putting them in charter schools, district lawyers can be standing by to ensure that the transition is smooth and that charters follow the law. Everybody wins!
My experience in debating FUSD supporters who use the special ed excuse is that they want the money that students with learning disabilities bring in. At the same time, they want to to be able to blame their failures on having too many special ed students. They pretend that the odds are stacked against them and mention how “unfair” things are as often as they can. For a long time the general public believed them. Now people are waking up to the reality.
Charter schools are increasingly being attacked because, contrary to what FUSD would have you believe, parents everywhere are pulling their kids out of the district and sending them to charters. It’s unfortunate that excuses get in the way of real solutions. FUSD should stop playing the victim and focus on what we pay them to do…educate children.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
In some of my past blogs you have seen me write about the concepts of Nullification and states’ rights. Tonight, Flagstaff had the opportunity to hear both explained in a very concise and engaging speech by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. at Northern Arizona University. Tom Woods is a leading proponent of the idea of nullification and is the author of the book Nullification: How To Resist Federal Tyranny In The 21st Century. Tonight’s event was well attended and the crowd was very receptive.
As I glanced around the Cline Library assembly hall, I could not help but think how exciting it is to see how much the liberty movement has grown in Flagstaff over the past few years and how far we have come in educating the public. In 2008, a handful of liberty activists were waving Ron Paul signs in front of City Hall. These days, hundreds of students, libertarians, tea party activists, and concerned Americans are attending liberty events and looking for solid solutions that guarantee freedom and liberty for all. We’ve come a long way.
For those who missed it, Tom Woods appeared on the Mitch & Joe show on the Big Talker 105.1 on April 5th. I will post a link to the podcast as soon as they get it uploaded. It was a great interview.
UPDATE: The AZ Daily Sun wrote an article on this event and included a couple quotes from me. You can find the article HERE.
Tom Woods, myself and my son Adrian.
The crowd trickles in before the speech. Great turnout! About 200-250 attended.
Tom speaks at the Cline Library assembly hall at NAU.
NAU Conservatives sell books after the event.
Tom Woods answers questions during the book signing.
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance held a nullification sign rally before the event.
Time to nullify unconstitutional federal laws!
I had the opportunity to meet several Facebook friends tonight, including Tom McCauley (right) who came over from Winslow for our sign rally.