April 22, 2018
When I mentioned possibly not being at school on Thursday, you looked confused. “Why won’t you be here? Why don’t you want to be with us? Did we do something wrong?”
When my own son accused me of being selfish and thoughtless to take part in the RedforEd movement that may cause his high school to close, I felt pretty rotten. I explained how the stagnate funding for Arizona schools was less than average for the nation, how he deserved more, and this is the only way to receive it. His reply was, “I don’t see what’s wrong.”
And maybe that is what is the biggest challenge to overcome throughout this turbulent time, my Arizona children. I can’t help you see what you should have had all this time because what you have… well, it is the norm for you. I can’t rip off the blinders of normalcy when they’ve been firmly attached to your eyes for a decade. You think it’s normal to have a Social Studies book that lists USSR in the maps. You think it’s okay to have an under-qualified long-term guest teacher give you a teacher’s manual of mathematics and tell you to teach yourself. You think it’s fine to have so many students in the classroom that you sit on the floor. You don’t wonder why there is 32 students in one classroom, but only 10 English Language Learners in the other. You don’t blink when your teacher mentions that he/she will be working at their other job until midnight, and that he/she will grade papers over the weekend. It’s all normal to you.
But my students, my sons, my friend’s children, it’s not normal. It’s not okay. You have been sucked into a state of normal crisis. If you went to school at another state of America, you would wonder why they have half the amount of students in the classroom. You would marvel at the quality of resources offered. You would scratch your head at the knowledge of the teachers, who have received their National Board Certification, Master’s and Doctorate degrees. You would realize that our normalcy is not the American average. We may live in the desert, but our classrooms shouldn’t be a desert as well.
Therefore, if I have to leave on Thursday, don’t be alarmed. Become angry, but not at me or your parents. Apply this righteous anger into effective communication. Use all the writing skills we have taught you in the classroom, and scribe persuasive letters to the editors of the local newspapers, and e-mail your parents’ legislators and the Governor of Arizona. Tell them about your normalcy, beg them to help the education system in Arizona. Become activists for the movement that will help our classrooms meet the standards of excellence found throughout the United States.
I know some of you are saying, “If you can’t accept the plan that Governor Ducey generously provided for educators, why do I need to be in this fight? Isn’t this on you?” His plan doesn’t include sustainable revenue (and thank goodness we learned what revenue is last month) to provide funding for buildings, resources, and classified staff. It is only for teachers with classroom rosters. This provides money for some teachers, but not all, and not for YOU. His plan includes the assumption that legislators will be supportive for the next two years. But as we have learned in Social Studies, legislative sessions have different members and budgets every year. A governor, whose term is expiring this fall, cannot presume that this will all come to fruition. Therefore, we need all hands on deck! We need your voice of experience in the classroom to be heard statewide and possibly nationwide!
It is time to break the bubble of educational normalcy in Arizona. When it pops, we will all be back together in the classroom, and the teachers and students throughout the nation will cheer for victory! Then you will experience the wonders of an average American classroom.
Your Teacher and Your Mom