As a past NYC United Federation of Teachers member, I learned as a new teacher in the 1960s that the only way to get what was needed was to strike. As a Psychotherapist in California in 1992, I again learned the importance of collective power as Santa Cruz County Mental Health wanted to pay me $13.13 per hour as licensed Master level therapist. As I protested to the Board of Supervisors in front of the press, our movement was formed. What I learned is that management would love to give all of us a raise but you had to activate the power brokers and the funding.
Governor Ducey and our current AZ legislature has not been motivated to fund education. As a matter of fact they like to use education as the place to take funding. All of a sudden Ducey seems motivated to fix the problem, although not with real solutions, just rhetoric. We have heard from every source that he does not have any funding mechanisms to give teachers the 20 % raise. Not only that, you cannot fund part of a system. You have to fund all of it. So Ducey is not a real businessman, just a front man.
Since education has been the weak kid in the playground that the bullies like to kick around, I do not see this as a simple fix. This is why we have a unique opportunity NOW to change the way our government views education. But it will take work form all of us.
How can you help?
- First understand the long standing problem, and commit yourself for changing this. “We believe the children are truly our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.”
- As our teachers strike on Thursday, join them on the picket line. Bring food and encouragement. Make a big splash. The media will be watching us.
- Encourage your district to close schools who have more than 30 % of teachers striking. Nothing is going on anyway. Let all education professionals join the picket line.
- As a parent, stay home from work. Tell your employer that you need to care for your child and their future. Take your child to the picket line and teach them about collective power. We have an important opportunity to impact the business world with this strike.
- Contact your AZ legislators and demand that they fix education funding and put some teeth into the legislation that prohibits the Governor to take dedicated funds from education.
- Reverse tax cuts. Business is doing just fine. Schools are drowning.
This is your chance Arizona to move our education system from last place. No business will relocate here with our dismal education system. Well-funded education means better outcomes for all.
Jo-Ann Marks, MA, LMFT