Why I Walked

Beth Maloney Current Affairs, Education, Education Policy, Life in the Classroom, Social Issues

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An invited response to Angela Buzan’s heartfelt piece on why she won’t walk out:

I’m tired.  I’ve taught in Arizona for 13 years of my 19 year career.  I’ve watched from the front line as our state has starved the public education system for the past 10 of my years in the classroom.  I’m tired of promoting pro-public education candidates only to have them lose to well-funded politicians bent on destroying everything I believe in about education being for the common good of our society.  I’m tired of advocating for good education policy, only to see bills supporting taxpayer dollars to fund selective private education over the education of all children.  I’m tired of politicians who’ve determined that some students don’t matter as much as others.  I’m tired of broken promises.

"Please don't cut my education!"  This is my daughter's first protest to education cuts.  She's now 10 years old. She's NEVER had a fully funded education in Arizona.

This is my daughter’s first protest to education cuts. She’s now 10 years old. She’s NEVER had a fully funded education in Arizona.

I don’t have the resources to do my job as a teacher effectively anymore.  I have too many students to properly develop essential relationships.  I have students with severe needs and trauma I am not equipped to address without a counselor.  Our special education teachers’ caseloads are overwhelming.  I don’t have the resources to help my students succeed.

I’m not alone.

Half the teaching positions in Arizona are either vacant or filled by someone not qualified to teach our students.  I’ve watched colleague after colleague suffer from the alienation, despair, exhaustion, and helplessness that lead to burnout and demoralization.  I’ve seen teacher after teacher leave Arizona or leave our profession altogether.

My student teacher, a veteran with a 32-year career in the military, told me with tears in his eyes after a particularly difficult day in our classroom, “Combat is easier than teaching.”

Let that sink in.

I don’t know where the walkout will lead us.  But I know what got us to this point.  Under-funding our schools is educational malpractice.  I’ve taken the same mandated reporter training for every year of my career.  I am legally obligated to report abuse and neglect.  I’m reporting the state of Arizona for not doing its constitutional duty in educating our children.  That’s why I walked out.  My job as a teacher is too critical.  My students are too important to me to stay and let them suffer in silence.

Food bags our PTO and teachers made for our students during the walkout.

Food bags our PTO and teachers made for our students during the walkout.

There is no change without sacrifice.  Our students have been sacrificing their education for a decade.  So now we, the nurses, crossing guards, counselors, parents, librarians, cafeteria workers, plant managers, paraprofessionals, and teachers are sacrificing so they won’t have to forfeit their education any longer.

T.S. Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”  I’m willing to walkout to see how far we can go together.



I am in my twentieth year of teaching and enjoy every minute of my time in the classroom. I have taught kindergarten, third grade, and currently teach fifth-grade science and social studies in Surprise, Arizona. I am an enthusiastic public school advocate. I am a National Board Certified Teacher and a Candidate Support Provider for the Arizona K12 Center, where I coach and mentor other teachers undergoing the rigorous National Board certification. I am the past president and co-founder of the Arizona National Board Certified Teacher Network and president and founder of the Arizona Chapter of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. I am honored to be Arizona’s 2014 Teacher of the Year and appreciate having the opportunity to represent the teachers of Arizona. I love talking with and learning from other teachers around the world. I strongly believe that teacher voice in the public education dialogue is the best way to make change for the better for all students.

Comments 8

  1. Audra Damron

    Yes yes and yes! This gave me chills, made me tear up and put a fist in the air all in one read. You have summed up what 50,000 Arizona educators are feeling right now! Thank you for being vulnerable and putting this out there.

  2. Angela Buzan

    GO BETH! This: “I’ve taken the same mandated reporter training for every year of my career. I am legally obligated to report abuse and neglect.” What a fantastic angle– is there such a thing as “lol ouch”! Thank you for the response; these perspective pieces are so important for the public to read. They all communicate the same conclusion: teachers are reflective about their actions (or inactions).

    1. Beth Maloney

      Thank you so much for the push to write this one, Angela. It was truly cathartic to get my thoughts and feelings down on paper.

  3. Leah Clark

    YES! I did NOT walk out on my students as many are saying. But I walked out FOR my students. They deserve an education that prepares them for life. When a student has long term substitutes year after year, we are not effectively preparing them. They deserve highly qualified teachers who can focus on creating relationships and effectively teaching content knowledge. We are not babysitters and cannot be paid as such. We must receive proper funding if we are going to change this sad reality of education. #redfored

  4. Jess Ledbetter

    Loved this passionate post! I feel the same way, and it’s been sad for me to miss the advocacy during my maternity leave. Thank you to all those who stood up for AZ kids this last week. My little ones will be future AZ students, and I am grateful for the work you have done on their behalf!

    1. Beth Maloney

      I’m sure it has been rough to sit this one out, Jess. It is truly for all our students, present and future!

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