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Think Tank talks to Arizona investigative reporter Craig Harris

(Twitter Photo/@CHarrisAZRep)

Arizona Republic reporter Craig Harris, along with several of his colleagues, was awarded the prestigious George Polk Award for reporting on Arizona charter schools. He has also done recent work on questionable bonuses paid to state employees of the public safety pension fund and other stories of public corruption. He is our sole guest this show. If you haven’t read his work in the Republic, this show should enlighten you about some of the seamier things going on in our state. If you have, you’ll find it interesting to hear from him directly.

The Polk Award citation read:

The award for Education Reporting goes to Craig Harris, Anne Ryman, Alden Woods and Justin Price of The Arizona Republic for initially disclosing insider deals, no-bid contracts and political chicanery that provided windfall profits for investors in a number of prominent Arizona charter schools, often at the expense of underfunded public schools that educate all but 30,000 of Arizona’s 1.1 million students. Subsequent reports revealed that the state’s charter schools had evolved from locally supported alternatives to large chains, including two with business ties to Gov. Doug Ducey that received inordinate state support. The reporters found that charter schools used up nearly two-thirds of $143 million in low-interest state construction loans established for all schools, spent more on administration and less on classroom teaching than public schools did, and failed to outperform neighboring public schools. Legislative reform is on the horizon; even Ducey, a strong charter school advocate, has called for change.

The Think Tank airs on KTAR News 92.3 FM on Sunday at 1-2 p.m. and repeats at 9-10 p.m.

Podcasts are available after each show is broadcast.

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