Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Voting for Education: Resources in Arizona

Please register to vote before October 9.

If you've read my blog at all, you've probably seen some of the entries that express frustration and exhaustion surrounding my work as a teacher.

While teachers have always worked hard and sacrificed personally in order to teach students, working conditions for teachers (and other support staff in Arizona's districts) have come to a tipping point.  No longer do we have the support structures in place to do the job we need to do to prepare students for their futures and workers, learners, informed citizens and happy human beings.  

Working conditions for faculty and staff are learning conditions for students.  
  1. When we work second and third jobs to keep up with the rising cost of a middle-class lifestyle, and to provide our own families with health care, transportation, multimedia communications, college educations, and healthy lifestyles, we reduce our ability to meet the needs of our students. 
  2. When we lack librarians, teachers' aides, admin assistants, school nurses, copy clerks, security monitors, custodians and disciplinary support (such as parent liaisons at the high school level, a position which was abruptly cut in recent weeks in TUSD), we either take on extra responsibilities or ignore important aspects of creating a safe and responsive learning environment for students.  
  3. As a parent, when district services such as after school programs are centralized (to be more "efficient"), the ability of school staff to be flexible and work with parents on payments is limited; tuition money goes back to a central pool instead of back into the schools where those parents' kids attend.
  4. When we lack technical support, equipment, software and training, we use less technology in our instruction.
  5. When we lack money for copy paper, students spend more time copying what is on the board and less time learning.  This is not why districts have purchased sophisticated tools such as Smartboards.
  6. When class sizes are larger, we lack the time and energy to learn about and respond to our students' needs; we lack the time to give good quality, timely feedback on the complex assessments that are required by new more rigorous standards.  
These and many other changes are happening which have VERY concrete and observable impact on schools and classrooms.  As a parent, I wish that I had even more time to invest in researching and advocating for all the issues, especially at a local level.

Here are some resources for voters in Arizona who want to learn more about the issues and who want to vote for propositions and candidates that will support strong funding and a drive for excellence in Arizona's schools.  Of course my agenda here is to support both excellence and to FUND excellence in AZ education.  I'm sure my list is biased toward that goal.

TUSD/ Southern AZ issues/ candidates:
  • Vote this woman onto the TUSD board: a teacher, and a teacher of teachers.  A Southern Arizona Writing Project fellow. Kristel Foster for TUSD board!  I have met her in a variety of contexts, and completely trust her intelligence, knowledge and judgment. She will help to change the conversation.
  • TEA's endorsement for Cam Juarez and Kristel Foster.
Blogs about teaching in Arizona:
  • www.storiesfromschoolaz.org  Arizona K12 Center runs this blog about how policy affects practice.  See my entries there, of course, while you're there.
Send more resources if you have them!  This is just a start.

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