Do you ever wonder why a mouse falls prey to a mouse trap?   You know the classic spring trap, with a trigger that holds bait and a spring loaded kill bar that comes slamming down on the mouse once the bait is taken.

The bait must look awful enticing, so much so that the mouse will never step back and see what is connected to the bait … the kill bar!

Governor Ducey has a beautifully constructed spring-loaded trap properly placed, right now.  Let’s take a step back and see how this is attached to a kill bar.

The Bait

The 20×2020 proposal is the bait.  Joe-Public doesn’t care to dig in and see the composition of the proposal.  Joe-Public is busy. Joe-Public sees there’s an offer that seems to match the demands of educators and is left to assume that teachers are being greedy.  This of course assumes that the offer is legitimate, but bait doesn’t have to be quality, just enticing enough to lure the prey in, right?

The Trigger

The vehicle that will carry out the 20×2020 proposal is a budget.  That is of ultimate significance!  A budget is only good for one year.  Don’t take my word for it, read about it here from the government’s website. https://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/budgetprocess.pdf

The doctrine that prevents a budget from reaching beyond a year is called ultra vires.  That’s latin, so it’s legit, right?  It basically states that one legislature cannot tie the hands of another legislature.  This year’s budget has no bearing on what is voted on next year!

To be clear, there is zero guarantee that the governor follows through with his budget even during the coming fiscal year!  There is even less chance of the full proposal being carried out.

Those who don’t know history are forced to repeat it.

The Kill Bar

The kill bar is that people will accept this proposal, or be pacified by it, buying the governor enough time to continue on his path towards gutting public education.  There will be no emergency session this summer as many of the key legislators live out of state in the summer, and the fall session will be a skeleton crew as the legislators will be campaigning for re-election.

The next legislative session will be a year from.  Game Over!

Fight Back

Our job is to expose the trap.  This bait is rotten and it stinks.  Here’s why:

  1. A budget is only good for a year. This “budget deal,” is a three year plan.
  2. The past few years the government has struggled to fund their budgets.  Every year schools receive less than promised in the budget.  Last year’s budget, for example, was predicted to have a $104 million shortfall!  Let’s learn from history!
  3. Governor Ducey has claimed to work side-by-side with educators and supports public education.  This is of course a massive lie. We ended up in this position because the opposite of his statement is true.  Corporate tax cuts, designed and approved by Ducey, have landed us in this position.  He has faced little opposition along the way!
  4. The continued erosion of public education in Arizona is costing us jobs. Companies like Amazon are looking for a highly educated workforce and reportedly passed on Tucson and Phoenix as a base for their second headquarters because of our public education.
  5. Arizona’s voucher program has been a disaster to this point, yet, people like Steve Yarbrough keep pushing forward with it.  Why? Because they profit personally.

Monday and Tuesday – The Final Rounds

The last piece of work the legislative session will see is the budget.  Once the budget is passed many of these legislators will leave the state for their summer homes.  A special session will not be called. There will be no session in the fall because of elections. Whatever happens these next two days, is likely going to be the end of getting our legislation to act!

And while you may think that voting them out and replacing them will provide a new promise, it will be just that…a promise.  This problem was not created by our current elected officials, it’s a cultural issue unique to Arizona.

We have the momentum and we must seize this opportunity!  

Moral support and honking horns, wearing red to work will no longer be enough. We need everybody willing and able, outside of education, to call in sick on Monday, show up at the capitol.  

If we shut down the state on Monday, education wins!

End Game

I speak only for myself on this account, but I would be satisfied, temporarily, if:

  1. We had a budget and a piece of legislation to give it legs that laid forth a sustainable plan to restore public education, or:
  2. A committee to work over the summer on how to realize the five demands of the AEU.
    1. That committee would have to include leadership members of the AEU.

It is my responsibility as a citizen of Arizona to stand up to a government that does not serve the needs of its people.  

Join me on Monday at the capitol, 7 AM, to greet our elected officials as they arrive at work for the day.  Share this, invited friends, neighbors, relatives.

Political maneuvering and deals behind closed doors, dark money, and misinformation campaigns make our political scene across our country quite ugly, in my opinion.  It is my belief that the politicians love when we choose sides ahead of time.  All they have to do, in turn, is craft the right message and police their image, and they’re done.  (If I had an agenda here it would be to convince people to distance themselves from their affiliated party, just a little.)

Throw education in the mix, a public concern with tax-payer money, and it gets double tricky.  As a teacher for over a decade, I know a lot about teaching, but have learned that I knew next to nothing about education!  So what does Joe-Public know about it?  There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation, some spread intentionally by various sides of the issue, but most of it unintentional.

However, I believe that whether a person believes that quality private education is the solution or that quality public education is the solution, all can agree that an educated population will create a healthier and more stable society.

Starting with that as our foundation, let’s build this next:  If you’re reading this you undoubtedly already have opinions about whether #REDforED is a political movement.  You already have some beliefs about whether or not the teachers’ union (Arizona Education Association) has created the Arizona Educators United (the group that started the #REDforED movement).

I ask that you set your opinions aside because clarity in this situation is difficult.  Consider all of the issues and conditions before coming to a conclusion.  If you believe education is fundamentally important to the health and stability of our state, YOU, WE, need to remove those who wish to piggy-back on the issues at hand for self-promotion from the issue of education reform.   

 

It is my belief that if we build something on a faulty foundation (misdirection, coercion and lies), it will not last.  Education reform is a must and it has to be done right. 

With the agreement that education is important to all interested parties and that seeking what is best instead of being right will best serve our common interest, let me share what I know.  Whether you determine #REDforED and the Arizona Educators United to be a political ploy will be your decision. 

Here’s how #REDforED, and the AEU started.  In early March educators from around the state began mobilizing individually.  Some, like myself, were trying to exact change at the district level, others knew more about education and were looking bigger.  Through social media and personal connections a small network grew. Cat Barrett coined the hashtag #REDforED, trimming it down from her original #WearREDforED.  

A FaceBook group was formed and it grew, fast!  The focus of the AEU became to change state level funding of education (more on this later), and to do so in a nonpartisan way (whether that stayed or changed, you can decide). 

Soon there were demonstrations and a list of demands.  It happened so fast, and was done by working teachers that were NOT missing work, did not have any budget or facilities.  There wasn’t even a website for a landing page for people not on social media.  Without doubt, the AEU is a true grassroots movement.   

Now it is true that some of the members of the AEU have been active with issues that are aligned with the Democratic’s platform.  However, there are also many members that registered and voting Republicans.  And you’ll just have to take my word for it here, but any push to “turn the state blue,” has been quashed on the discussion boards.  

You may be wondering if #REDforED and the AEU have been co-opted by those who wish to use the movement for political gain since then.  Here’s what I know, make use of the information and decide for yourself.

First the fly-by, then we’ll get into some details.

  • When dealing with the public sector and tax money, politics are involved.
  • The #REDforED movement is calling into question the actions of our governor, especially with respect to executing the will of voters as they have expressed support for the funding of public education with prop 301
  • Many politicians and political agencies originally sided with the AEU, then when the governor made his 20×2020 proposal they flipped and sided with the governor.  After a few days, they rescinded their backing of the proposal.  
  • #REDforED is not playing political games and remained steadfast.  The AEU is demanding of our current legislators and governor to reform education funding.

Now the nitty-gritty behind the scenes:

  • The AEU is made of educators.  Educators tend to be more liberal than conservative, politically speaking.
  • The AEU is made of educators, that are working full time to educate children.  They don’t have much time and have even less money.
  • The timing and message were right and the #REDforED movement exploded creating the need for facilities and structure that the ground-swell movement did not possess.  
  • A contentious (between AEU members) decision was made to allow support from the AEA (the “union” … it is not a union but an association, and the difference is not just semantic).  Sorry for the alphabet soup there. 
    • The AEA has endorsed democratic politicians in the past and this was a conflict for the AEU’s nonpartisan foundation.
  • The union, however, has joined the AEU and #REDforED movement, changing their approach to education reform.  
  • This deserves a second bullet because it is unprecedented:  The “union” was changed by the #REDforED movement!

 

Here are my answers to the questions at heart regarding if the AEU and #REDforED is a political ploy.  

 

Is #REDforED political?  Yes.  It involves elected officials, tax money and public interests.

 

Does #REDforED have a political party affiliation?  No.  

 

Is #REDforED supported by Democrats?  Yes.

 

Is #REDforED supported by Republicans?  Yes.

 

Does #REDforED publicly support a Democratic candidate for Governor?   No.

 

Does #REDforED privately support a Democratic candidate for Governor?  There is no private, it is a grassroots movement.  There is no leader, but instead the connection between individuals is what makes it strong.

Below are the thoughts regarding Arizona Educators United demands improved education funding. of  a fellow educator and contributing member of AWP.  Check out his website and let us know how you feel about the demands from AEU.  To read the demands themselves and show support, click here.  

To read a draft of the proposed salary schedule, click here.

My Take on the Demands

by John Harris

Ih8pd.com

I hated not being at the capitol with my fellow teachers supporting #RedforEd. Of course, I was stuck in Professional Development. I did, however, hear that we made our “demands” to the legislature and the public at large. First, let me say I have been a supporter of AEU since it was another page that had to be scrapped. I am now a moderator in the AEU Main channel where I have had the privilege of having lively conversations with many people along with the members of the Mod Squad. As a firm believer in the cause, I wanted to explain, although I am happy with the intent, I am rather displeased with the content. Let’s start with the demands:

  1. 20% salary increase for Arizona teachers in order to create competitive pay with neighboring states.

Good. 20% is fine, but you don’t have to tell them WHY you want it, or what it is being used for. Who cares? They didn’t tell us why we keep having lower salaries and bigger class sizes. We want 20%, damn it, and that’s final!

  1. Competitive pay for all Education Support Professionals.

What does “competitive pay” mean? Competitive with whom? Teachers? Other contractors in their field? Other school employees in other states? And, are we talking all school employees, or just paras, and aides? If we mean everyone from superintendent to crossing guard, “competitive” is very vague. Do they mean site level? What about the janitor who cleans at the district office?

5% pay increase for all other public school personnel. Keep it simple!

  1. Permanent certified salary structure which includes annual raises.

This says certified. At the last Meet and Confer, we JUST talked about how classified employees deserve the same benefits as certified employees. I don’t want to now go back and say, “All these things were fighting for….not for you.” Nope. Janitors and cafeteria workers deal with the same kids. And they get it worse because they have no pull.

  1. Restore education funding to 2008 levels.

Don’t make me do homework. Now I’ve got to go Google the spending per student in 2008. Show me the number. I still have not looked it up.

  1. No new tax cuts until per-pupil funding reaches the national average.

We can’t say no tax cuts. If they wanted to cut gas taxes because fuel prices were too high, you’ve just screwed yourself. They’re going to put a time limit on the tax. What happens when the time runs out? Teacher pay nosedives and we are REALLY in a crisis. You also can’t push a bill through that ties pay to a projected national,average. Taxes are numbers. Every year, the national average is going to change and the percentage will change with it.

 

Overall impressions:

These are supposed to be DEMANDS! If you are going to demand something, by God…DEMAND THEM. This is not a dog and pony show. We have been disrespected long enough. You WILL hear us. You WILL do what we say, and you WILL do it now! We are the parent, and you are the child. We tell you what to do, not the other way around, and if you don’t do what we tell you to do, there will be consequences. When did we ever lose sight of that? Some friends and I had this conversation. We talked about demanding versus asking. When do we stop asking?

We told them we were going to demand, and then…we asked. I can hear the sound of the Price Is Right when the contestant forgets that Betty Crocker Cake Mix is only $2.47. It would have been so much better to begin with, “We are going to ask the legislators…” and then show up with 1500 of our closest friends and DEMAND them to give us what we want or we will go West Virginia on them! That sends a statement. What we have done now is put ourselves on the defensive in a fight with people who are trained to fight to the death.

As I said to a colleague the other day, “Three is a magic number. Yes, it is.” You want to have enough demands to open negotiations and for them to take you seriously. At the same time, you want everyone to be able to remember them off the top of their heads. Three is easy to remember and easy to chant. It’s easy to put on the tailor-made slogan of #RedforEd and their THREE reasons.

Why am I #RedforEd?

Reason one: 20%.

Reason two: Guaranteed raise every year

Reason three: lower health premiums

THAT plastered everywhere! Make Gov. Ducey not forget those three things. Chant them in his sleep.

Finally, and most importantly, the admins put out a poll and asked everyone to comment on it. It’s still active right now. The top three things (as voted by AEU members.)

  1. 10% raise
  2. Healthcare overhaul
  3. 301 solvancy.

None of those made it into the demands. Why bother asking if you aren’t going to listen anyway?

As I stated, I agree with the intent. I just don’t agree with the content. Whoever wrote these demands should have asked for help.

Of course, this is just one man’s opinion.