Partisan gridlock strikes again -Arizona

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On the national stage, the newest stimulus negotiations saw Democrats originally asking for roughly 100 billion dollars to go towards the funding of school needs. When the republicans agreed that schools needed additional funding the democrats increased their demands to 400 billion dollars.

After weeks of fruitless talk, Donald Trump usurped the negotiations in Congress and announced a plan to get money into the hands of the unemployed. Democrats fired back by saying they would fight Donald’s plan because it was not enough, so they say. This political move by Trump puts the responsibility on the Democrats to make concessions for the sake of the American people. Americans have seen this situation play out repeatedly. Many Americans are currently underemployed due to the COVID-19 virus and they were hoping to receive a stimulus check to make up for their lost income.

Because of the gridlock in Congress, much of the funding for schools will likely not make it into the programs that desperately need funding. People who desperately need the stimulus check to help recover from the negative impact incurred by COVID-19 will continue to suffer because of the inaction of Congress. Schools will continue to not receive the funding they deserve because of the inaction of Congress.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “People never change from childhood to adulthood, the mentality remains – the only thing separating adults from children is a bigger body and more mischievous ways to manipulate people.” The embodiment of this truth is Washington D.C.

Here is an update on the stimulus from a balanced perspective.

Some may be asking which is it, 100 billion or 400 billion dollars, that the schools need to resume in-person instruction and where would that money go.

Arizona school districts have used the additional funding to pay for more laptops and tablets for students. It is vital to have the necessary funds to provide educational technology to families who don’t have access to the tools and resources they need to be successful.

Schools have spent money on a curriculum that can be used in an online format. Arizona communities are requesting air purifiers and plexiglass dividers to help reduce physical contact and germ transmission. Masks and additional cleaning supplies would aid schools in meeting the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control. Additional funding would be welcomed by Arizona’s school districts, but the districts were already struggling to supply the schools before the global pandemic.

Even in the utopian post “Red For Ed” era, Arizona schools are still lacking basic supplies, repairs cost, and there remains an incredible teacher shortage in the state. Teachers are still fitting the bill to make a meaningful impact in their classrooms. It is grossly wrong and disturbing to expect teachers to have to empty their own wallets to purchase supplies and essentials that should be provided for them.

The elephant in the room that people seem to not want to address is teacher pay.

Teacher pay is the primary problem facing Arizona school districts. Much of the teacher pay is taken from their paychecks and directed into the state retirement system. Arizona’s legislature is aware of the problem but cannot reach an agreement as to the means to solve the funding debate. After all other avenues have been exhausted in the hopes of addressing this significant issue, teachers were left with no other choice but to strike in what turned into the “Red for Ed” movement. The main argument concerning teacher pay was that teachers deserve to earn a livable wage. Before “Red for Ed”, Arizona teacher pay was so grossly underfunded and lower than the rest of the nation, not to mention neighboring states, that it was obscenely disrespectful to continue to demand that teachers be ok with the status quo.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey had the nerve to metaphorically slap teachers in the face by offering the teachers a 1% pay increase. This insolence was part of the reason why teachers felt a strike was necessary, as it was profoundly disrespectful on the governor’s part. The current pay is STILL not enough as the “Red for Ed” leaders Noah Karvelis and Joe Thomas asked for a 20% pay increase, which was low-balling the necessary increase to say the least(they needed to request at least 50% salary increase to begin to compete with other states). Nonetheless, teachers were met with spite from state politicians and parents at the “nerve” of teachers asking for a livable wage. Teachers had enough of it and went on strike – to which I say, “heck to the yes”.

Healthcare cost to educators needs action

Another significant portion of their pay is directed in their high deductible health insurance plans and healthcare cost. Because of the failure by the Obama administration, the affordable care act created the family loophole that leaves Arizona’s teaching families without access to affordable healthcare. Families were being punished for being families. Recruiting and retaining quality educators in Arizona is nearly impossible. Instead of fixing the issue of teacher pay or healthcare cost, the Arizona government under governor Ducey has created incentive programs for teachers to enter the field by giving away education degrees.

If the parents thought the teacher quality was bad before, get a load of what comes out as a result of that move from Ducey when average Joe Shmoe can come off the street with a bachelor and no educational training, and stand in front of your kids. Good luck with that Arizona parents, but again, you trust this governor, so you reap what you sow.

Most students entering college have become wise to the promise of a free degree for a field with a poor quality of life. Teachers are politely excusing themselves from the profession in mass numbers. Who the hell can blame them for the **** that I outlined earlier in this article? These funding problems are compounding the struggle to force teachers into the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a visual representation from one of Arizona’s largest districts.

Teacher Salary

The scenario above is the best case. The expenses for living in the state of Arizona are realistically much higher but it shows just how low the pay is for an Arizona teacher. Even with two teachers in a household or a second job, teachers will still have a difficult time paying their daily expenses.

Partisan gridlock on the national stage mirrors that of the Arizona congress.

Arizona’s teachers are familiar with the partisan political gridlock. Teacher pay is not set at the legislative level. Pay is poorly funded due to their lack of foresight. Even with Governor Ducey’s plan to increase teacher pay by 20%, Arizona’s most teachers are not making a living wage in the state. Arizona Republicans have offered to increase funding in small amounts, but these ideas have been shot down by Arizona’s democrats claiming that it is not enough. Ultimately, the result is that no meaningful changes are done for Arizona’s students. You can thank corruption and incompetency in Arizona’s government (here’s looking at you, Kelly Townsend).

Arizona’s perpetrated decisions to keep teacher benefits and pay as low as possible along with healthcare benefits haunts them. Poor policies arrived back around to bite them during COVID-19. Over the summer teachers made decisions to write their wills and increase their life insurance plans. Many Arizona teachers are prepared to strike because they cannot afford to get sick on high deductible health insurance plans. A hospital trip for COVID-19 for an educator could cost them roughly $5,000.00 out of pocket. If multiple people in their households get sick, they will be forced to pay around $10,000. To get teachers back in the classroom safely, Arizona will need to take a hard look in the mirror.

AZ legistlature troubles

One Arizona politician, *cough* *cough* captain of the clowns John Allen claimed of teachers,

“They’re making it out as if anybody who has a second job is struggling. That’s not why many people take a second job,” Allen said. “They want to increase their lifestyles. They want to improve themselves. They want to pay for a boat. They want a bigger house. They work hard to provide themselves with a better lifestyle. Not everyone who takes a second job does it because they’re borderline poverty.”

So, if you made it through those direct quotes from John Allen without punching the screen and screaming profanities outside(these are things I just did while typing this out) then you’re a hero. No, John Allen, teachers are not going out and getting second jobs to buy boats. Please, don’t be disingenuous. That’s a lie.

The mentality of John Allen represents the vast amount of Arizona Republicans currently in power. It is grossly disrespectful and needs to be voted out if anything positive will happen for all stakeholders involved in education. Simply put – there’s no room for this kind of idiocy in positions where decisions are made on behalf of anything meaningful. Arizona needs politicians willing to work together for their constituents.

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