While I believe teachers and schools need more money a walkout is not the answer.
On Thursday public schools all across the state of Arizona will close as a result of a teacher walkout. This walkout is different than the teacher strike which is illegal in Arizona. Instead, teachers will be calling in sick or using personal days. The walkout is set to occur on Thursday and Friday of this week and might go longer.
Teachers in Arizona are underpaid and everyone knows it. The average pay for teachers here is around $47,000 a year while the national average is around $58,000. Even though Arizona has a low cost of living this is still pretty ridiculous. Many teachers have to work second jobs and can’t give teaching the focus it deserves. If Arizona lawmakers cared about the future they would care about the children.
Originally, teachers were asking for a 20% salary increase. After a lot of back and forth, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey agreed to the pay raise. Teachers realized they had a position of power decided to improve Arizona schools too. The new demands are more funding for supplies, textbooks and higher pay for hourly staff. All are reasonable requests but the timing is pretty bad.
Teachers should accept the 20% increase for now and revisit the school funding issue. Teacher pay is set by the school district and many times that money goes to waste. For example, my daughter’s high school has 5 Vice Principals. These Vice Principals have assistants who help them with their day. When I went to school the Vice Principal’s role was to assist the school’s principal. I’m not sure why they would need so many administrative people. Also, we have a lot of extracurricular activities which can be eliminated to add money. There are schools here who have hockey teams for example. Hockey is a very expensive sport and makes no sense in the Arizona desert.
A walkout will hurt the kids, parents, and hourly employees of the school. Parents will have to take time off of work to watch their children and days must be made up at the end of the year. Hourly employees won’t be getting paid. Students will be missing out on learning. In some cases, poorer children may even have to go without food. This walkout is going to end up souring Arizona voters opinions of teachers. All they asked for at the beginning was a 20% increase in pay and got it. Changing their requests after getting what they asked for might be seen as being greedy.
The best course of action would have been to let Arizona voters decide. While I do support more pay for our teachers and schools I cannot support a walkout on our kids. This walkout has me considering putting my daughters into a virtual school. I’ve already done this with my son and he is thriving.
In Arizona, teacher walkout will have ramifications in the state for years to come. While they are calling it a walkout it is a strike. Teachers are putting their certificates at risk since they are breaking the law. It also sends the wrong message to the children of Arizona. These teachers did sign a contract but are now refusing to honor it. Not living up to your word is not a lesson I want my kids to learn from their teachers.
This is my two cents and current view of the situation. Feel free to leave a comment and who knows you might even change my mind.