Puente de Hozho Elementary School Principal Robert Kelty is excited about a new program the school hopes to offer to students next school year
Puente was recently named a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate program. Once the school is approved by IB to become an IB World School it will be one of three primary schools in the state of Arizona with that designation.
There are a total of 4,000 schools around the world who are part of the international teaching program. The program is available to schools who teach K through 12th grades. It also offers a high school diploma that prepares students for college in nearly any country in the world, Kelty said.
According the IB website, the program is a method of teaching, rather than a curriculum. The program wraps traditional subjects such as math, science, health, etc. in a framework of six themes. Those themes include “who we are,” “where we are in time and place,” “how we express ourselves,” “how the world works,” “how we organize ourselves,” and “sharing the planet.”
In the fifth grade, student in the IB’s Primary Year Program are required to do an exhibition project. The project is a collaborative research project on any real-life topic or problem that the students wish to study. The idea is for the students to identify, research and offer a real-world solution to the topic or problem.
It goes beyond and incorporates the school’s curriculum to help students learn to think critically, ask questions and be aware of what is happening the world around them and become better world citizens, Kelty said.
“It deepens the teaching for students,” he said. “It create a more thoughtful student.”
Kelty said Puente applied for the program last year and found out in July that it was named as a candidate school for the program. The school will have to go through another three to five years of training and evaluations by the IB program before it can be labeled an IB World School. Teachers and staff at Puente will start training to implement the program in March.
“It was really a no-brainer for our school,” he said. “We think of it as a natural progression of Puente.”
Puente is a dual language school, which is a big part of the IB program. IB students who graduate from IB’s Diploma Program in high school are required to be proficient in two languages.
Puente has a Navajo immersion language program and a Spanish-English bilingual program. Students learn to speak two languages, Spanish speakers learn English, English speakers learn Spanish and Navajo student learn their own language. Many Navajo students come to the school only speaking English, Kelty said. If Puente is accepted as an IB World School, it will be one of the first to have students that are bilingual in English and Navajo.
The IB philosophy also fits with Kelty’s profile. Kelty served for two years as a senior managing director of regional support and development for Teach for America, nearly four years as Coconino County Superintendent of Schools, was the co-founder of the Transformative Learning Center, was a teacher at Puente for nine years and named Arizona Teacher of the Year in 2008.
In order to start the process to become an IB school, a school has to conduct a feasibility study to determine if it is compatible with the IB system. The head of the school has to participate in a workshop about applying to the program. Determine how long it will take to bring the school into compatibility with the IB system and analysis the benefits and costs of the program to the school. The school also needs support from its governing board to enter the program.
If everything looks good, the school applies to the program. The IB program then analysis the application and determines if the school is a good candidate for the program. If it is, the school is labeled a candidate school and can start a trial run of the IB program. That trial run lasts between one to two years. During that time, teachers and staff are sent for training in the IB system and it is slowly rolled out in the classroom, Kelty said.
At the end of the candidacy period, the school is evaluated by a site visit from IB officials and is either granted or not granted status as an IB World School.
The process can be expensive. According to IB’s website, the application for the program is $4,000. The school will pay $9,500 each year that it is a candidate school and $8,520 per year once it becomes an IB World School. The schools are evaluated every five years to make sure they are still following the IB system.
Kelty said Flagstaff Unified School District is hoping to expand the program to Sinagua Middle School and Coconino High School. This would allow students who were interested in the program to earn an IB high school degree and a seal of bilingual education from the state of Arizona. It would also prepare them to enter practically any college or university in the world.
Coconino High School Principal Stacie Zanzucchi said she and the vice principal have already gone through some of the preliminary training for the IB program and are working on the application. They hope to submit the application to IB in June 2018 and be named a candidate school shortly after.
“It fits in really well with our language institute and our school’s philosophy of world citizens,” she said.
Coconino has the Puente de Hozho Language Institute that allows students who are interested in becoming bilingual in either Navajo or Spanish, Zanzucchi said. This gives students who started the process at Puente the chance to continue and receive the certification from the state.
It also gives students who did not attend Puente another way into the IB program, either through Sinauga or once they enter Coconino High, she said. Each level of the IB program, primary, middle and high school, are independent of each other. If a student does take the classes at Puente or Sinagua they can enter it at Coconino.
Both Kelty and Zanzucchi said if their school is not approved for the program that they plan to continue emphasizing bilingual education, critical thinking and the appreciation of other cultures in their students.
“It’s another option for our students. It’s a way for us to put our student’s passions first,” Kelty said. “It’s an excellent option for families that value diversity as well as education.”
WASHINGTON — Democratic senators on Thursday criticized a National Park Service plan to impose steep increases in entrance fees at 17 of its most popular parks, including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Zion, calling the proposed rates "arbitrary and unjustifiable."
Under a plan announced this week, visitors to many national parks would be charged $70 per vehicle during the peak summer season, up from $25 or $30 per vehicle now. Officials say the higher fees are needed to address an $11 billion backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects that have been put off for years.
Senators said the plan would exclude many Americans from enjoying national parks. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state and other Democrats said the proposal is especially egregious because the Trump administration is recommending severe budget cuts for the park service.
Claims that the increased fees are needed to reduce the maintenance backlog are "undercut by the administration's budget proposal to cut" park service operations by $200 million, including a $93 million cut to facility operations and maintenance, the senators wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
"If implemented, your proposals to increase fees while cutting agency funding would serve to shift major costs to park visitors and undermine public access to national parks — actions that would be a disservice to the American people," they said.
Cantwell, the senior Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, organized the letter. It also is signed by Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington state, Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein of California, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Tim Kaine of Virginia, as well as independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, an advocacy group that works to protect parks, said the proposed increase could make the Grand Canyon and other popular parks unaffordable for many families.
"The solution to our parks' repair needs cannot and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors," she said. "If the (Trump) administration wants to support national parks, it needs to walk the walk and work with Congress to address the maintenance backlog" through the budget process.
A 30-day public comment period opened Tuesday. The park service said it expects to raise $70 million a year with the proposal at a time when national parks repeatedly have been breaking visitation records and putting a strain on park resources. Nearly 6 million people visited the Grand Canyon last year.
Zinke said the plan was part of his "vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids' grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today."
Annual $80 passes for federal lands would not change, though fees would go up for pedestrians and motorcyclists. The higher fees would apply only during the five busiest contiguous months for parks. For most that's May through September when many families are on vacation.
The proposal would not affect several free weekends and holidays.
Here are some details about the money the proposal would raise:
The agency collected nearly $200 million in entrance fees in the last fiscal year. It expects to raise an additional $70 million annually by charging visitors more to get into the 17 parks during the five busiest months of the year. Those parks generate 70 percent of the revenue from entrance fees.
The outcome is uncertain. The Park Service has been breaking visitation records for three years, with nearly 331 million visits in 2016. That could mean a bump in revenue and improved services for visitors.
Others worry the fee increase could turn people off to national parks, especially those who are lower-income, and say Congress should ensure they are well-funded.
The Park Service has a maintenance backlog totaling $11.3 billion. That's work the agency has put off for more than a year. It includes fixing water systems, roads, buildings, campgrounds, housing and trails.
The Park Service allocates more than $1 billion a year for maintenance, according to a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report, but cannot catch up because the problem is huge.
The backlog decreased last year by $600 million as the agency wrapped up some large projects and saw cost savings in construction.
Amanda Greene of Hoquiam, Washington, said she would like to see more parking at Olympic National Park or a busing system to avoid overcrowding. Plus, better restrooms.
Philip Francis, a former superintendent at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway, said the money is a small percentage of what's needed.
"It's better than not having it," he said. "We certainly need a much more substantial investment."
The Park Service budget is less than 1 percent of the overall federal budget, and the proposal from the Trump administration for fiscal year 2018 calls for less money overall for the agency.
Former Grand Canyon Superintendent Steve Martin is skeptical the fee increase would raise the nearly $70 million that the agency projects.
"It could generate a lot of ill will as well," he said.
Martin suggested switching from a vehicle fee to a per-person fee. Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska already uses that structure.
National parks have been creative in raising funds when they don't get enough money from Congress. Most have a fundraising organization that helps cover visitor services or maintenance needs.
Some of those groups, such as the Trust for the National Mall, the Yosemite Conservancy and the Gettysburg Foundation, raise millions of dollars a year. Smaller groups run bookstores or gift shops and give the parks a share of the profits.
Parks also rely on volunteers and donations for work that includes operating visitor centers, mowing lawns and cleaning restrooms.
"We get people of all stripes who come to our parks," Francis said. "They come to the parks whether they're rich or poor, Republican or not. I think they're disappointed when things aren't up to snuff."
A 30-day public comment period runs through Nov. 23. Those who want to weigh in can do so online or via mail. The National Park Service says it will review the comments before deciding whether to implement its proposal.
The agency has a fact sheet on its website outlining the plan, but it doesn't say exactly which projects would be funded by the fee increase.
Not all of the 417 parks charge entrance fees. Those that do retain 80 percent of the revenue, while the other 20 percent goes into a fund to help the 299 free parks.
PHOENIX -- A federal grand jury has indicted the founder and chief shareholder of Chandler-based Insys on charges of overly aggressive -- and illegal -- marketing of its powerful opioid drug that has helped fuel the opioid epidemic.
The criminal case, filed Thursday by federal prosecutors in Massachusetts, claims Scottsdale billionaire John Kapoor, 74, and others at the company conspired to use bribes and kickbacks to get doctors to issue new prescriptions for Subsys. That's the company's concentrated form of fentanyl opioid spray designed to be sprayed under the tongue for immediate relief.
It also says illegal methods were used to get doctors to increase both the dosage and volume of the prescriptions they were writing.
"The bribes and kickbacks took different forms, including speaker fees and honoraria for marketing events, food and entertainment, administrative support, and fees paid to co-conspirator pharmacies," the indictment reads.
Kapoor and six former executives are also accused of defrauding insurers by setting up a scheme to mislead them about why patients needed the drug. The result was insurers and even federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid paying for purchases in cases where Subsys, which the Food and Drug Administration has approved for cancer patients with "breakthrough pain," was instead being prescribed for patients with less serious conditions.
The charges include racketeering, conspiracy and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Each charge provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of each their financial gains.
According to the indictment, Kapoor and Michael Babich, who was president and CEO of the company, were dissatisfied with lackluster sales after the drug hit the market in 2012. The result, the legal papers said, was a speaker program where doctors were paid to urge others to prescribe the drug.
But what was really happening, according to the indictment, was a system of bribes and kickbacks to convince doctors "to issue more prescriptions for the fentanyl spray outside the usual course of their practice and to change the dosages and volumes prescribed."
What also happened, the indictment says, is that doctors who did not write "an appropriate number of prescriptions" found themselves with fewer speaker fees.
William Weinreb, the acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, acknowledged there is nothing illegal in drug companies paying doctors to speak on behalf of their products. But he told Capitol Media Services what happened here is illegal under federal law.
"It rises to a kickback when there's a quid pro quo, when a doctor is being paid by a company not simply to provide information to other doctors or others who may benefit from the expertise, but in exchange for their prescribing a particular company's medication," he said.
Weinreb said the indictment comes in the midst of a nationwide epidemic of opioid misuse, abuse and overdoses. Just Thursday, President Trump declared a nationwide "public health emergency."
"We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable, just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer," Weinreb said.
Attorney Brian Kelly, who appeared with Kapoor in federal court here Thursday, suggested there was a political factor in his client's indictment, coming as it did the day of the president's announcement.
"Curious coincidence of timing, isn't it," he said following the court hearing.
Weinreb said the case stands on its own merits.
"We have the evidence that is alleged in the indictment we believe proves Mr. Kapoor guilty of those crimes," he said. "And that's why we brought criminal charges."
Kapoor, brought into court wearing only a T-shirt and flannel shorts, did not enter a plea at his appearance before U.S. Magistrate Michelle Burns, with his arraignment set for next month in federal court in Boston.
"He's not guilty of the charges," Kelly said after the hearing. "And he intends to fight them vigorously."
In the interim, Burns agreed to his release upon posting of a $1 million cash bond and forbidding him from leaving Maricopa County other than to go to court, a condition enforced with an electronic GPS monitoring bracelet.
The link between the opioid epidemic and the indictment was buttressed by a statement from Phillip Coyne, special agent in charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He said the indictment is designed not only to prosecute those charged but also to send a message to the drug industry.
"Corporate executives intent on illegally driving up profits need to be aware they are now squarely in the sights of law enforcement," he said.
Others named in the indictment include Alec Burlakoff, who was the company's vice president of sales, Richard Simon, who was national director of sales, Michael Gurry, who had been vice president of managed markets, and Sunrise Lee and Joseph Rowan, who were regional sales directors.
Kapoor, Gurry and Babich are all listed in documents from the Department of Justice as Scottsdale residents.
The criminal charges closely parallel a civil lawsuit filed against the company in August by Attorney General Mark Brnovich.
That case, playing out in Maricopa County Superior Court, charges that Insys used unfair and deceptive marketing practices designed to pad company profits at the expense of patient safety. The lawsuit says Insys engaged in a nationwide scheme to deceive patients, doctors and insurers about the safety of Subsys.
"Insys lied to insurers, concealed key facts from doctors and patients, and paid doctors sham 'speaker fees' in exchange for writing prescriptions, all in order to increase the sales of Subsys, without regard for the health and safety of patients," Brnovich charged. "Insys made hundreds of millions of dollars from its deceptive scheme, but also put countless patients in harm's way, exposing them to unacceptable and unnecessary risks of addiction and death."
Brnovich is using the state's Consumer Fraud Act to ask a judge to block Insys and its employees from engaging in unfair, deceptive or misleading acts. That allows him to demand the Chandler-based company to both pay restitution to consumers who should never have been prescribed the drug as well as force the company to surrender all of its profits from what Brnovich says is the company's illegal practices.
No date has been set for a hearing in that case. An aide to Brnovich said the federal criminal charges should not interfere with the Arizona case.