Yes, it's Farley Report time. I'll just launch right into the news…
--> This election and education: The primaries are over and the general election battles are set, with some very stark choices between moderates and the far right. The stakes are especially high this year, given that the new Governor and the upcoming Legislature will decide how (or even whether) to implement the recent court order to pay back to our kids' schools the money that the majority stole from them over the past few years.
That's why I am working so hard to elect a new majority in the State Senate. Along with new Governor Fred DuVal and Superintendent of Public Instruction David Garcia, who will also be laser-focused on improving our schools, we will be able to return full funding to our education system so that we can finally move forward as an economy and ensure our kids have the tools they need to thrive in the new global economy.
The extent of the crisis hit home for me a couple of nights ago when I attended Open House at my youngest daughter's school -- Tucson High.
The first class I visited was Beginning French. The teacher explained that there was not enough money to buy textbooks for the 32 students in her class, so she did the best she could with worksheets. The next class was Algebra 2, where they also could not afford textbooks, but materials were available online. Kids whose families could not afford computers were directed to the public library.
The third class, Honors English, featured another really inspirational teacher who somehow is able to keep 34 students engaged daily in discussion and critical writing. She had enough copies of Isabel Allende's House of Spirits for everyone, but was worried that she would not be able to teach Kite Runner because only one set was available to the 3,600 students at the school, and that was already spoken for.
These stories continued throughout the evening. Brilliant, dedicated teachers are working impossibly long hours to transform the lives of 32 to 36 students per class -- five to six classes -- with not enough money for books, much less computers. They are also acting as parents for many of these kids. They understand the importance of what they are doing for the future of their students and our society. They should be the most highly valued workers in our state. Our legislative majority is letting them all down. Big time.
This scene isn't just happening at TUSD. I met recently with the superintendent at the Flowing Wells School District, and he ran down a list of problems he has not been able to fix since the current legislative majority stole our voter-approved education inflation funds: Roofs that leak, outdated textbooks that are falling apart, 12-year-old computers, and overcrowded classrooms are just a few.
Continuing to allow the current legislative majority to rule endangers the future of our kids and our economy. It is time for a change. #RememberInNovember
--> How can you help? As you know, I am running unopposed this year in both the primary and the general, and for that bipartisan support I am profoundly grateful and humbled. But that does not mean that I'm working any less hard. There are great Senate challengers all over this state who are poised to take back seats for common sense, and provide a new majority that serves all of us, not just a few partisan primary voters. I am working hard to get them all elected.
If you want to help me in my efforts, your contribution to my campaign will help create a new Senate majority this year. I pledge to you that your generosity will go to good use all over the state where it is most needed. Now is the time that we must act. Together.
You can securely give $20, $200, or even $2000 online right now! Arizona's kids thank you.
--> Streetcar update: I hope you have had at least one chance (or more!) to ride our new Tucson Modern Streetcar line. This investment is surpassing all expectations, which admittedly were already pretty high. More than 60,000 people rode the trains on opening weekend. Merchants up and down the line have had a record month for sales, even before the students returned -- one previously vocal critic with a shop on Congress Street is now saying that their sales have tripled since the streetcar opened.
The whole route is full of people at nearly all hours of the day and night, and ridership projections are more than 150% of where we thought we would be at the end of the first year of service -- even before the students begin to flood the line.
Even more importantly, I have heard people of all ages and backgrounds gushing about how the streetcar makes them feel proud of Tucson -- who we are, and what we can do. Onboard smiles abound and neighbors chat with neighbors as they gaze out the windows at new local businesses they had not previously noticed. That's how we can thrive in the 21st century.
I was a guest on a conservative radio talk show this morning, and a wonderful older woman called in to talk about how much she is loving riding the streetcar with her friends to do errands, get her hair done, and to go out to eat. She explained, "Everyone visits. Perfect strangers strike up conversations and talk the whole way. Everyone is in a chatty mood on the streetcar."
Building community while growing the economy. We did this together, Tucson!
--> I just published a book 30 years in the making, and I'd like you to read it.
Not many of you know that I turned 21 in Egypt. I spent my junior year abroad at American University in Cairo, and it was a transformative year for me in many ways. I spent most of my time in the downtown food marketplace, the Suq Bab el-Louq, after I befriended an eggseller, and got to know the details of the lives of those who lived and worked there as I photographed their world.
Given the atmosphere of fear, hatred, suspicion, and violence permeating so many countries of the Middle East in recent years, I feel that now is an excellent time to release this book, which I hope in some small way can contribute to a new spirit of understanding of the lives of those who in the news reports seem so different from us. If we understand each other's everyday lives, perhaps we can build a foundation for peace sometime in the not-so-distant future.
These simple stories paired with intimate black and white photographs are suitable for readers of all ages. I suggest you buy the print edition because as a designer I like to be able to ensure the layout is elegant, but if you would like the Kindle version, you can buy that for $9.99 as long as you don't hold me responsible for the rather less elegant ePub layout.
You can read more, including a sample chapter, at http://TalesFromTheSuq.com
You can buy one for $15 at Tucson's Antigone Books on 4th Avenue just north of 7th Street (on the streetcar line) or Mostly Books at Speedway and Wilmot near Beyond Bread. It is also available for $13.48 on Amazon, with free shipping if you are a Prime member.
If you want to purchase a copy (or two!) online, please do it today or tomorrow, because the more people buy in a concentrated space, the higher up the book goes on the Amazon list, which means the more people in the world might run into it by happenstance when browsing. If you are so disposed, please also write a good review on Amazon, and share this post with your friends. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks for your continuing faith in me as your Senator.
Senator, District 9, Tucson
Paid for by Friends O'Farley