Red for Ed – I support the AZ Teacher’s Strike

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The Arizona teachers are set to strike.  It’s a wonderful thing, and long overdue.  Not just being the worst paid teacher’s in the country, but going without raises for YEARS.  I have a buddy who teaches down there, and he just has been telling me 17 years of horror stories.

Let’s hit some fundamentals before I go full on rant.  Why doesn’t Arizona fund education?  Here is a short, and only mildly informed, explanation.  You likely know that AZ is a big state for retirees.   The retirees are often on a fixed income.  They aren’t in school anymore, and neither are their kids anymore.  The idea of funding education when they literally have to count every penny is absurd to them.

And the politicians pander to the order demographic HARD?  Why?   Old people vote, and young people don’t.  Sure, it’s a sweeping generalization, but it’s also incredibly true.  You should know by now, dear reader, sweeping generalizations are my jam!  I still remember the destruction of the education system from when I lived there.  My pal, who shall remain nameless due to the vindictiveness of the right, explained to me the last ‘raise’ the were offered.  It was 4% over the next 5 years. Generally speaking, inflation rises at about 1% a year.  This is why we use terms like “that house cost $75K… but in 1980 dollars”. This means that today, same house would cost $200K.  this is why gas was 75 cents a gallon… 30 years ago.  In corporate America, where I have resided for 20 plus years… the average annual raise is 3%.  This has been at every company I worked at.

Ok, back to the mess, and how badly Arizona is handling it.  When word got back to the lifeless souls who don’t believe in public funded education anymore (ahem… Betsy Devos)… here is how they replied.

“Teachers themselves could face consequences in this right-to-work state, where unions do not collectively bargain with school districts and representation is not mandatory. The Arizona Education Association has warned its 20,000 members about a 1971 Arizona attorney general opinion saying a statewide strike would be illegal under common law and participants could lose their teaching credentials.”

that isn’t exactly what we call a veiled threat.  It’s a threat.  We will not only fire your asses, but we will make sure you never teach (for minimum wage) again.

Here is how I would have handled it.  I really enjoy writing these, and someone should hire me to do it.  Here is what they could have, and should have, said.

Teachers.  We understand this is a hard time, and we understand you deserve more money to do the work you do.  No one questions that, even at the highest levels of government.  Know that you teachers are literally the most important resource out state has.  I think can all admit that we have let you know.  The state legislature has made it difficult for us to do our jobs, and made it even worse for you.  But blew it.  We owe you a lot, and I am personally going to see that you get it.  I know you know all of this, but here is where it gets personal.

We need you.  We need teachers and buildings and books.  We need to do that better, and sooner.  And we will.  Personally, I am going to take NO pay for the next 90 days as a gesture of solidarity.  If you walk out, though… which is 100% your right, we lose our bargaining power with the legislature and voters.  The only way to fix this is from the inside, and with your help and support.  The most powerful message we can send to the capital, and to the voters is to stick this thing out and give us the chance to make it right.

Of course, that is all bullshit, and no one would have the balls to say it.  If I were in charge (and I am available for public service) that would be my press release.  Instead, these assholes said “we fucking dare you cowards to walk out.  And if you do, we will fuck your life up so hard you will NEVER teach again.”   Gee, you mean you are going to forever take away my right to work for 28K a year?

A quick google search says

The median annual Public School Teacher salary in Phoenix, AZ is $54,761, as of March 29, 2018, with a range usually between $47,805$63,221 not including bonus and benefit information and other factors that impact base pay.

Yeah, if that’s true, then Volkswagons really do get 32 MPG and only emit smiles out of their tailpipes.

I can tell you for a fact that isn’t true.  I have teachers on the inside there.   Here is one specific and very real example.  I know someone who had a masters of education, and after 17 years of teaching, he was at 47K.   with a MASTERS.  I literally made more than that on unemployment the last time I was laid off.  I am a call center guy, so I am kinda an expert at getting laid off and outsourced.   Of course, the schools expect you to get a masters.   Sure, I’ll spend another 100K of debt to one day make as much as a shift leader at Burger King.

How does AZ compare to other states?

When all state salaries are adjusted in this way, Arizona ranks 50th in the nation for elementary teacher salaries, and 49th for high school teacher salaries. Oklahoma ranked 50th for high school teachers. 

And that data comes from the Arizona Republic.   Arizona’s primary newspaper, and leading right wing pander mongers

The data quoted by Hart is an accurate reflection of where Arizona teacher pay stands relative to other states. When the median pay for elementary school teachers — not including special education — in each state is adjusted for the cost of living, Arizona ranks 50th nationwide.

Arizona is no different. In 2015, the state spent $3,573 per K-12 pupil and $23,441 per inmate.

Why do I care, and what business is it of mine?  I don’t even have kids.  and I no longer live in AZ.   Well, this bullshit was a VERY big part of why I left Arizona.  Remember, this is the land of Sherriff Joe… who got re-elected every term, despite being indicted and charged by both local and Federal agencies.  He’d be in jail if Trump hadn’t pardoned him.  And is Sheriff Joe sufficient shamed?  No.  He is running for Governor.  Since 3 of the last 4 AZ governors ended up being booted from office for criminal convictions… sheriff Joe’s odds look pretty good.

Because ‘a rising tide’ lifts all boats.  If kids get a better education, they can get better jobs.  This means they can pay more in taxes… the kind of taxes that pay for benefits for older and retired Arizonans.  A better educated kid is less likely to cause crime.

Though we have no kids, my wife and I have NEVER once voted down ANY initiative that asks for school money.  Never have, never will.

As for the great threat of firing all their asses… the subtext of that is this.

“don’t strike, you will may be forced to go teach in another state that pays better.   Every single state pays better.  You can not possibly lose.

Call to action – what can you do to help?  Well, first vote out every single Republican in office.  Then support these wonderful folks.  This is kind of the official org of the movement – ‘Red for Ed’.   Here they are on Facebook, and here they are on Twitter – tag your comments with #RedforEd   Here is the info for the Governor’s office.  Here is his webpage where you can contact him.  You need not even be AZ citizen.


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