The Perfect Pie

James King Uncategorized

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The crisp, hot air floods the room. The air has a scent of browned bread, and a hint of sweet berries. With a bit of effort, and a functional oven, a decadent pie emerges from the oven.

While critics and pastry fanatics may analyze the baker’s decisions, the functionality of the oven or the quality of the other ingredients, every one recognizes that the pie is doomed if the berries never get to the kitchen, or if they get damaged in delivery. 

For the 5th consecutive year, Arizonans pointed toward education as their key voting issue. I have to wonder, given how many opportunities to vote on a myriad of issues and candidates in those 5 years, if this is actually true.

What I mean is: do  Arizonans want great bakers and great ovens only? Or Do Arizonans want a perfect pie? Because if they care about the quality of the pie, they need to take care of the berries first. 

If education’s end-goal is to produce a successful, capable, and independent cohort of citizens, does the average voter realize they need to vote for more than an empty promise? 

Teachers talk often about students who arrive at school unprepared to engage or learn. A cursory look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a commonly discussed notion in pedagogy.  Education, and self actualization are not possible if a student’s community cannot secure the first four levels of needs: physiological, safety, love, and esteem. 

So, if voters actually want to procure education’s intention, they must find the issues and candidates that enable levels 1-4. Otherwise, voting for that politician that says “I support public education” will be useless.

 It matters little how awesome my lesson plan is, after all, if a child hasn’t eaten all week. My poetry assignment is low priority for a student watching siblings while their parent works a second job. I want the student to study their comma rules, but the student came home to an eviction notice. 

Twice this semester, I donated to student’s GoFundMe pages for issues that, in other countries, would be free. The money wouldn’t make their problems disappear, but it would alleviate some of the struggle. 

I’m not trying to construct my own political platform, nor am I wanting to violate any student’s privacy, so I’ll limit my analysis to that.

We want great schools. The key to great schools is not great technology, great sports, great arts, or even great teachers – it is great students. All students can be great, if the generations before them decided to make it so. Politicians and the government have the ability to alleviate many issues that face young people today, but they refuse. 

Voters say education is their top priority, but to follow the metaphor: 5 years of elections show that voters actually want to vote for people who claim to fix the oven, or just give the baker a living wage. 

Teachers are dedicated, driven, and often lauded, yet a teacher cannot be an omnipotent panacea for all of our students’ ailments – believe me, we wish we could. So, it relies on voters to elect the right, honest, people to fix these problems for our students. 

Give schools a fighting chance; look at every issue on a candidate’s platform because they’re all intertwined. Help keep our berries safe, healthy, and ripe. Look for policies beyond the kitchen. We cannot enjoy the end-goal without taking care of our most vital needs first. 

What other political topics impact the day-to-day of education? What can we do to mitigate these concerns or promote our solutions?


My favorite words are “dapper” and “adventure.” With an unkempt proclivity, I manage to exemplify only one of these words into my classroom every day. The reason I chose English is simple: adventure lives in books. I get to take students wading into the Mediterranean, strolling along the Mississippi, or hiking the Himalayas without leaving their desks. I teach at my alma mater, after using 12 years to explore the world – beyond the verse, poetry, and prose I adore. I spent time traveling Central, and North America, The Caribbean, and Europe. I worked at Walt Disney World for many years, ultimately overseeing training for 50,000 employees. Entertaining and serving guests from all around the world, I also trained and managed international employees. I was a substitute teacher in the nation’s third-largest school district for 4 years and graduated from the University of Central Florida. My education degree emphasized English, Communication, and Commerce; this assisted me in obtaining English Language Arts and Career and Technical teaching certifications here in Arizona. Aside from grading, reading, tweeting (@PhxJayKing), and blogging, I also sponsor a surprising popular Book Club on campus, and you might find me playing sand volleyball any given night of the week.

Comments 2

  1. Beth Maloney

    What a perfect metaphor, James. Arizona teachers have bridged the gap for so many years, doing whatever it takes for our students’ success with little state funding. I hope that voters see our value as we yet again step up to the plate during this current situation. BTW, I hope you saved me a slice of that pie!!!

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