I am the daughter of a former Elementary School Teacher and I taught Adult Basic Education, GED Preparation and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for the Flagstaff Unified School District for five years.
As I write this, the state legislature is at work on the state budget. As in years past, education funding is at the forefront of the debate. I firmly believe as a state, Arizona must do more for our schools and so this month, I offer this excerpt of an open letter sent to our LD6 representatives Rep. Thorpe, Rep. Blackman and Sen. Allen, from Northern Arizona teachers.
Teachers of Northern Arizona have long been ignored by our current state representatives — Reps. Bob Thorpe and Walt Blackman and Sen. Sylvia Allen, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. There is a continued lack of attention to the ongoing needs of public schools in Northern Arizona from our legislators. This session, long-time Representative Bob Thorpe has done nothing to improve Arizona’s schools. His most noteworthy actions on education are his failed attempts to limit ethnic-studies in public schools and make it harder for college students to vote. Sen. Allen has prioritized expanding the school voucher system after voters overwhelmingly voted against Prop 305 last November, instead of fighting for more funding for our public schools. And newly elected Representative Blackman has attempted to limit the income students can receive – voting in favor of HB2523, which would have reduced the minimum wage to $7.25 for working students.
We the undersigned have written this letter to urge our representatives to stop playing games and get to work for Northern Arizona’s children.
It has been one year since teachers in Arizona took to the streets to demand that:
Our students are put first in the annual state budget.
Arizona teachers are paid fairly for the tireless work they do to educate and support children.
More support staff is hired such as school counselors. Arizona ranks last in the country in student-to-counselor ratio.
Since the 2008 recession, Arizona’s Republican-led legislature has underfunded our public school system to the tune of $800 million– robbing children across our state of a quality education, and the opportunity to thrive. Teachers see these effects every day in ballooning class sizes, outdated textbooks, broken school buses and unhealthy classroom environments.
It has been one year since teachers and parents marched to the state capital to demand our state legislature takes comprehensive steps to strengthen our schools. Last year, we received marginal improvements in funding which has led to marginal improvements in classrooms in Northern Arizona. The children of legislative 6 deserve better and we demand action from our representatives.
Concerned teachers of Northern Arizona. FBN
By Coral Evans
For the full text, please see: bit.ly/2Wlx7A8
Coral Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.