Maybe we will end this legislative session with little-to-no damage to public schools! For the past few legislative sessions, that’s all I’ve wanted.
Yes, I have extremely low expectations when it comes to Arizona’s public education system as it pertains to politicians’ actions.
As 2016 Arizona Teacher of the Year, I mostly tried to do whatever was in my minuscule amount of power (which was about the weight of a grain of sand) to simply make sure things didn’t get worse. I would have loved to had the luxury of trying to make things better, but that wasn’t possible. There seemed to be little point in focusing on something like “teaching the introverted child” when there were so many attacks on public school funding that every child was at risk, not just the introverted child.
Obviously, it’s not over until sine die (which is when the legislature passes the budget and adjourns for the session), but it’s looking hopeful that voucher bills won’t make it through, that not much with a negative impact on education will make it through, and that some bills with a positive impact may land on the Governor’s desk.
That’s the bright side.
The dark side is that many of us spent many hours pushing back against destructive bills. Even our local reporters did some heavy lifting. I’m not sure how many anti-voucher op-ed’s Laurie Roberts, David Safier and E.J. Montini posted, nor how many fact-based articles that Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Elvia Diaz wrote about teacher pay and voucher bills, but they all helped kill bills. Of that I am sure.
It would take dozens of pages to delineate the various education groups that pushed back and a few more dozen on top of that to discuss all the individuals who pushed back. I will mention one, though: Arizona Schools Now, which is a coalition of many of the education alphabet groups (ABEC, AEA, ASBA, ASA, APN, VIP, AZ-PTA, AEN, AEF, SOSaz), was powerful and forceful in its ability to control the narrative about the need for additional pay for teachers to combat the teacher-shortage.
Imagine if all those man-power-hours could have been devoted something that would make children’s lives better, instead of just making sure their lives don’t get worse?