As teachers prepare to walk out tomorrow, if you find yourself thinking that they are selfish, money hungry jerks, please remember that most teachers did (pretty much) know what they were getting themselves into. The pay was most likely not a surprise to them. Nor was it a deterrent. They went to college for it, spending years preparing for it, many building up school loans to do so. They wrote papers, took tests, stayed up late to finish homework, and many even had the “privilege” of student teaching. Imagine that- basically paying so that you can intern full time. For an entire semester. And yet, after what is often years of work and preparation—blood, sweat, and tears—they are still walking out. Why? Maybe there is more going on than teachers “complaining”. Maybe there is more going on than teachers being “selfish”. Please—find out what it is. Find out what is at the heart of this walk out.
As teachers prepare to walk out tomorrow, if you find yourself thinking that they “don’t care about kids”, think about how grateful you are for them every other day of the school year. How many teachers have impacted your own life? Remember how many students they have (Arizona ranked 50th in teacher/student ratios). Remember how much they put up with on a daily basis, and how much they must care about kids in order to do a job that few are willing to do, and for such little pay.
As teachers prepare to walk out tomorrow, if you find yourself thinking that they should have taken Ducey’s deal, please remember that they easily could have. They voted on it, and a vast majority (almost 80%) voted against it. When was the last time you could get 80% of people to agree on anything? (Think staff meetings or even your family trying to decide where to eat on Friday.) Please remember that these are educated people who our government and society at large has entrusted with the care of our children on a daily basis leading up to this. If they rejected the deal, there’s probably a reason. Find out why.
As teachers prepare to walk out tomorrow, if you find yourself thinking that they are leaving students “stranded”, please consider the fact that even if NONE of them walked out there would still be over 2000 teacher vacancies in Arizona. 2000! Arizona cut more funding to K-12 public schools than any other state from 2008 to 2015, according to an analysis of spending nationwide. Maybe it isn’t teachers that are leaving students stranded. Maybe teachers aren’t breaking the system. Maybe the system is breaking teachers.
As teachers prepare to walk out tomorrow, if you find yourself thinking that they should be content with their paychecks and should just suck it up because they knew what they were signing up for when they went into teaching, please remember that you’re right. They most likely did know that they wouldn’t ever make a lot of money. And they CHOSE teaching as a profession anyway. What does that say about them? Probably not that they are money hungry opportunists. But Arizona ranks 50th in teacher pay. 50th. Think about that. Montana pays teachers more that we do. Nevada. Oklahoma. Texas. Louisiana. South Dakota. All pay their teachers more than us. Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the nation and Idaho, Rhode Island, and Michigan all pay teachers more than we do. Maybe teachers aren’t the problem. Maybe it’s time we consider what we already know to be true: that we’re going to get what we pay for.
AZ ranks 50th in test scores. Think long and hard about that. Five. Oh. 50th. Dead last. Anybody like being dead last when playing games? Sports? Did anybody move into the neighborhood they live in because the school was the worst one they could find? Who wants to buy a car that’s rated lower than all the others? Anybody? Then let’s not continue living like everything is okay in education here in the state of Arizona. It isn’t. Something is broken. Please consider that as teachers walk out tomorrow. You might not understand why they are doing it. You might not agree with them doing it. Or how. Or when. But at least try to understand that the system that they are an INTEGRAL part of is in desperate need of change. And they are doing something about it! We should be standing up with them.
As teachers prepare to walk out tomorrow, if you find yourself thinking that they are lazy, please do a little research into how many hours teachers work. There are some discrepancies in the data that can be found online, so I would encourage you to do something you may have never done. Ask a teacher. Find out for yourself. Teachers work hard. But it’s not just their teaching duties. In the 2015-2016 school year, 17.9% of public school teachers had a job outside of the school system, according to data from the NCES. Another 44.5% took on extracurricular activities within the school system that netted additional pay. Teachers work hard for our students. Please remember that as they walk out. There is more going on than teachers just being lazy. Don’t believe the hype that this well-educated, hardworking, and compassionate group of people are all of a sudden lazy and selfish. Consider how you felt about teachers before there was any talk of a walk out. Would you have considered them hard working? Self-sacrificing? Members of a noble profession? Me too. What changed?
As teachers prepare to walk out tomorrow, if you find yourself wondering, “Why a walkout?” know that you are not alone. Many are wondering the same thing—on both sides of this issue. But let’s be honest, the problems with Arizona education are not new. When I graduated from college and started teaching in the classroom almost 15 years ago, teachers were having these same conversations. Low wages. Schools being underfunded. Politicians making promises. Low test scores. I literally remember being shocked to hear that Arizona ranked 49th or 50th in test scores EVERY YEAR. And that was 15 years ago. Let’s be honest. No one is in any hurry to give teachers raises. No politicians are tripping over themselves to direct budget funding to education, including the current administration. THEY HAVE HAD EVERY OPPORTUNITY. Truly think about it. One of the ONLY reasons this walkout is even getting any press is because it will inconvenience people. Teachers are only being heard because of the threat of schools closing down. So if you are wondering why a walk out, please truly consider whether any of these funding issues would even be talked about WITHOUT a walkout.
Final Thoughts on the Teacher Walkout
As teachers prepare to walk out tomorrow, please remember that they are human. They have goals and dreams, just like you. They put their pants on the same way. Many have spouses and kids of their own. They struggle to make ends meet. Do you know any teachers? Have you asked them what they think about the walk out? Have you asked how they like their jobs? Or what they think of the state of education as it now stands? I’ll bet if you do you’ll find out that most teachers aren’t lazy, money grubbing child haters. I’ll bet you’ll find that they probably support change but are unsure about a walkout BECAUSE THEY LOVE KIDS and families and would NEVER in a million years do what they do, day in and day out, if they didn’t. Please don’t forget that tomorrow. Let this walkout bring about appreciation for teachers. Not resentment against them.