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
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:
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.)
- 10% raise
- Healthcare overhaul
- 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.