August 3, 2017
Back to School blog post for LD18Democrats
By K. Tice

Summer always goes by too quickly it seems.  As a teacher myself, I’ve actually been back in school for the past three weeks.  My day-to-day is filled with prepping for elementary music classes and I have many questions about the big picture for education in the state of Arizona and the long term effects on my students and the health of our state.  This is my fifteenth year teaching.  It really is hard to believe.  Education and educational theory have gone through many augmentations of both practice and language – including words like multicultural in the 90’s, to the trend of project-based learning in the 2000’s, to the promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), then STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math), and the latest word one can hear in any educational discussion: rigorous.  While the buzz words and trends come and go, the educational distress of Arizona is ever-increasing.

I had the opportunity to participate with the Save Our Schools Arizona campaign this summer where my own education continued to grow, so I’ll share a few fast facts that have been sourced by one of their fabulous team members.  Arizona ranks 48th for public school funding and in student achievement outcomes.  Arizona is last in the nation in median pay for teachers.  Arizona began the 2016-17 school year with approximately to 2,200 unstaffed classrooms.  (Source)  Did you know that the number one reason that businesses avoid locating in Arizona is an uneducated workforce? (Source)  Arizona (and its students) are being presented as ground zero in the promotion of the school choice movement.  How we can expect students and school districts to be successful, when they receive cut after cut after cut in funding for materials, school lunches, before and after school programs, certified teaching staffing, support staffing or even transportation?

While the fight for public school funding in Arizona continues, those of us in public school classrooms take stock.  Being a teacher is not only about teaching content, it is about people.  It is about the sometimes messy day-to-day of what life is like for kids, no matter their age.  It is about giving students the tools they need to be successful as they make decisions as kids and later as adults. It is about making a difference, and yes, content is important. As members of our community it is our job to ensure that ALL kids have what they need to be successful, not just those that attend private or charter schools.  This requires us to support ALL schools and ALL students.

Below are a few pictures from the Back to School drive at Threadz sponsored by the LD18 Democrats, Dems Give Back group.  This is one of the ways that LD18 supports back-to-school for all students in our area.