I know history is a difficult and boring subject for most but since our schools are closed today, I thought I’d take a moment for some thought and reflection.
Remember way back, and I know it’s a struggle, but try and picture February 14, 2018. Remember that day? You might because it was Valentine’s Day. Perhaps you enjoyed some overpriced roses and chocolate that day. In the media frenzy and chaos of Valentine’s day, it would have been easy to miss it but that was the day we first started discussing on a national level the notion of arming the teachers.
Remember it now? That’s right, the Parkland Florida shooting. The rhetoric surrounding that day was incredible, the memes amusing.
No matter where you fell in that discussion, everyone had an opinion. So what was the result? Protests were held, people got angry, more protest were held, people protested the protests, and people got louder and angrier. A lot of energy went into this.
It didn’t take long before the teachers spoke up. “Wait a minute, you want to arm me? Let’s talk about what you’re going to arm me with.” The dam burst. Years of low pay and declining funding and resources came flooding through. Teachers, realizing their job description had slowly been shifting to glorified babysitter at best and armed guard at worst started to come out of the closet and proclaim, this is not what I signed up for. The fire spread. Then, as fires do, it jumped the road.
We began to forget about the devastation of Parkland, the damage was done, the debate gridlocked. Sure, there were tears and speeches and protests, but what of that now? Nothing. History, moved forward. A new fire began to burn.
Within weeks the thought had spread like a virus. We can’t control guns so arm the teacher’s with funding and resources. Of course money doesn’t come out of thin air, and if you’re a capitalist there is always money to be made.
The teachers began demanding more. More counselors. Smaller class sizes so we have the opportunity to know our students better. We have more students in our classroom than we have desks. By-the-way, have you seen our desks? Half of them are broken. We will take a bullet for your child if we have to (we’ve proven that) but please, we would really prefer to not have that happen. We are overwhelmed, overworked, and grossly underpaid.
So what happened? The teachers started protesting. Signs were made, marches were held, slogans were born. Before you knew it a whole new campaign was launched. Support public education. We love insignia it identifies us and unites us, ribbons, pins, wear red. #RedforEd
The idea of supporting education in and of itself is not controversial. After all, I prefer uneducated, easy to manipulate masses is not a popular platform. While it may be true, no one can come right out an say it. That’s why they call it politics.
The plot thickens, and here’s where it starts getting good so, pay attention. (You might want to take notes on this.)
April 12, 2018. With very little resistance the governor of Arizona takes to the news announcing, we will pay teachers more! A lot more. Teachers will have a 9% pay raise by next school year. (Folks, that’s three months away, other than mobilizing for war, when has our government ever pulled anything off in three months?) He promises a 20% pay raise over the next three years. He takes to the news among a back drop of clapping Arizona school Superintendents and school leaders and proclaims, “Now we know that there are other needs in public education so there will be no shell games. This investment is in addition to the $371million dollars in district additional assistance which will provide flexible funding for Arizona’s schools most pressing needs, fixing school infrastructure, modernizing curriculum, school busses… updating classroom technologies.” (Governor Ducey 2018).
Skeptical, the teachers ask, where is this money coming from?
The Legislature has to approve tax increases.
Is that going to happen?
#RedforEd is a pretty good slogan, and it already has momentum. The teachers press on playing the last card they have, we’re going to walk out.
No response from our governor.
We mean it, shout the teachers. We’re outta here.
No response from our legislature.
The teachers wear t-shirts, stand on the sidewalks holding signs before and after school, and hand out flyers. The idea of walking out becomes more real. The teachers vote, should we walkout? Will we really do this?
School administrators begin to crunch the numbers based on the information they have. Will we be able to remain open if the people who say they will walk out actually do?
No response from our government.
Schools realize they can’t stay open and tell their employees not to come to work. It no longer matters if you were planning to walk out or not. The schools have crossed the threshold of what they can handle safely, they must close their doors. They make as many provisions as they can for as many students as they can. They warn parents as best they can and tell them, prepare now our doors will be closing.
Finally, our government speaks up. Our brilliant Superintendent of education takes to the news and threatens to go after teacher’s certificates if they walk out. (Like the student who raises their hand after explaining the directions twelve times and asks, “what are we doing?” It is painfully obvious someone missed the lesson and needs remediation as this is so jaw-droppingly stupid it’s difficult to grasp.) Who is walking out and who is just following directions?
Thursday, April 26, 2018. The schools fall silent. A day without a teacher. A day where we seek not to put new information into our brain, but rather to reflect on the information that is already there. After all, knowledge is not the information itself, but rather what we make of it.
By looking to our history, can we predict our future? What will come of this? What will be our history lesson? Who will benefit? Who will profit? What will be the cost?
The schools are closed today, but that doesn’t mean that education must stop. Pause here for reflection. Form your own thoughts. This is the job of a teacher. We do not have the right answers, but we do seek to help others learn to ask the right questions.
Extension of learning. If you feel so compelled, read on.
Homework, never present a problem without a solution. WARNING: If you don’t know what the word satire means, look it up.
May 1, 2018 – Breaking news, in a bizarre full-circle turn of events Arizona legislature teams up with Arizona schools #RedforEd movement and the NRA to propose the first ever gun tax for public education. You heard that right. The only thing Arizonans loves more than their guns, is their kids. Much like a cigarette tax, Arizona is taxing all things associated with firearms in order to raise money to fund teacher salaries and the schools “most pressing needs.” While early talks considered following the example of Colorado and taxing marijuana, Arizonan’s found the subject to be too controversial. However, after much reflection Arizonans determined that guns was a more palatable and agreeable topic. In doing so, they have come to believe that the best kind of gun owners are the educated kind and are aiming to be the first to set a higher standard. In an unprecedented historical move, Arizona citizens and legislatures have agreed to fire up a knowledge tax on guns.
Written April 26, 2018