red pencil

Why I Will Wear #REDforED

Amethyst Hinton Sainz Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy

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I will wear red tomorrow, Wednesday, March 7,  because I am a professional, and I deserve to be paid like one. I refuse to say “I’m not in it for the money,” because I pay my bills with this paycheck, and buy my kids what they need. I hope to send my kids to college with this paycheck, and I try to think about retirement one day, based on this paycheck. I try to be a good spouse with this paycheck and be there to support everyone when times are less than ideal, with this paycheck.

I will wear red tomorrow because someone close to me actually brings home more disability pay each month than I see in my check (even before insurance premiums are deducted.)

I will wear red tomorrow because any modest increases in pay have been largely offset by higher insurance and healthcare costs, higher retirement contributions and inflation.

I will wear red tomorrow because teachers have been asked to bear the brunt of the cuts to education for the past decade. We have taken on higher student loads, more duties supervising students, more custodial tasks in the classroom, more expenses for classroom supplies, more mentoring and support of new teachers and uncertified teachers, more covering of our colleagues’ classes on our planning time, more nursing and counseling duties, more responsibilitiy for school libraries, art and P.E., all while being held to high professional standards and higher accountability for the progress of our students.

I will wear red tomorrow because it angers me that my colleagues in southern Arizona get paid so much less than we do in Maricopa County, and have not seen significant permanent increases in over a decade.

I will wear red tomorrow because in districts across the state, in many cases experienced professionals make less than new teachers because their salaries have been frozen over the years.

I will wear red tomorrow because in rural districts throughout the state, uncertified and untrained community members are in classrooms teaching children, and getting paid the same as a highly qualified teacher. Rural districts are struggling to recruit teachers.

I will wear red tomorrow because, as ugly and secure as the new fences around our schools appear, I know that we truly harden our schools best through the soft skills of the professionals on campus, who watch vigilantly, learn about our students and work to create positive learning environments.

I will wear red tomorrow because nobody should have 35 students or more in a core academic class.

I will wear red tomorrow because no teacher should lose bonus pay for teaching in a school with majority poor and minority students, while the schools with higher socioeconomic populations are given extra teacher pay and praised for their efforts.

I will wear red tomorrow because we need to hold charter schools financially and academically accountable to our state’s families.

I will wear red tomorrow because our leaders continue to push through bills to cut taxes and expand private school vouchers, when they haven’t lived up to the promises they made when we passed Proposition 123, a devil’s bargain which was supposed to be the first of many steps to properly fund education in this state.

I will wear red tomorrow because I deserve better, and the students of our state deserve the best we can give them. And the time is now. red pencil



Amethyst Hinton Sainz is National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent and Young Adult English Language Arts, and is constantly trying to live up to that standard! This year she will begin teaching at Westwood High School in Mesa, Arizona as an interventionist. She has taught junior high ELD and high school English in Arizona for 25 years. She has been a Stories from School blogger since 2012. Amethyst’s alma maters are Blue Ridge High School, the University of Arizona and the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. Her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy led her toward the College of Education, and she soon realized that the creative challenges of teaching would fuel her throughout her career. Her love of language, literature, and culture led her to Bread Loaf for her master's in English Literature. She is a fellow with the Southern Arizona Writing Project, and that professional development along with, later, the National Board process, has been the most influential and transformative learning for her. As a board member of the Mesa NBCT Network, she works with other NBCT’s to promote this powerful process throughout the district. She supports candidates for National Board Certification, and loves seeing teachers realize and articulate their teaching and leadership power! She enjoys teaching students across the spectrum of academic abilities, and keeping up with new possibilities for technology in education. Last year she had the privilege of running our school garden, and will really miss that this year. She is currently learning more about social and racial justice and is striving to be an antiracist educator. She lives in Mesa, Arizona with her family. She enjoys time with them, as well as with her vegetable garden, backyard chickens, and the two dogs. She also enjoys reading, writing, cooking (but not doing dishes), kayaking, camping, and travel, among other things.

Comments 14

  1. Leah Clark

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I love and agree with every word you said! We are professionals and deserve to be paid like ones. We are entrusted to educate the youth of America, yet many people believe that we should be paid like babysitters. It’s unrealistic to believe that people want to happily and passionately want to join the profession when they know they may never make enough to support their families. Thank you for writing this! I will definitely wear REDforEd tomorrow!

  2. Donnie Lee

    I had a close friend in Tucson who started teaching the same year I did. Our resumes were practically identical. We were both Nationally Board Certified and both had Master’s Degrees. When I moved up to Phoenix, I made nearly $10,000 more a year than her. It would’ve been more if all of my years of experience had been in that same district. The inequality in pay across the state is frightening.

  3. Angelia

    Thank you so much Amethyst! This statement “I will wear red tomorrow because, as ugly and secure as the new fences around our schools appear, I know that we truly harden our schools best through the soft skills of the professionals on campus, who watch vigilantly, learn about our students and work to create positive learning environments” calls to me. I have struggled to make clear to community members what schools need, this speaks to my heart. Thank you for what you do!

  4. Treva Jenkins

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you Amethyst!!!
    “Fixing a broken immigration system. Protecting our kids from gun violence. Equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage. All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do…”–Barack Obama

  5. Tracy

    May I ask what the average pay is for a High School teacher in Tucson, Marana, Sahuarita for example? I would also like to know how much work, on average, teachers still do through the 2-3 month summer break. I’m just trying to get a realistic idea of where this all stacks with the $56K to $59K average US household income stats. Thanks.

  6. Publishingpam

    Beautiful, and so well-written. You are an amazing role model for our teachers and for the #RedforEd movement. This has been a long week for all our teachers, and I applaud each and every one of you for putting yourselves out there and fighting for what’s true and right. God bless you.

  7. Lisa Moberg

    Going through these #RedforEd posts as I create a scrapbook of our memories- it was a good reminder of why I did- and I will- wear Red for Ed!!

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