Shantih Journal 3.1 - Page 93

NK: It is disappointing. The legislature refused to move quickly. On the Thursday, Friday, and weekend of the walkout they refused to even work. This could have been solved much earlier. DW: One of the weirder moments for teachers were the three amendments proposed by representative Kelly Townsend who sought to silence teachers for “espousing political ideology[ies] and beliefs” and fining teachers $5,000 fines for causing school closures. Even members of her own party denounced her proposals. She’s now soliciting teachers to “inform” on other teachers—for what I’m not crystal clear. I’m not sure how to phrase this, so I’ll just ask it as I felt it: what in the heck is this about? NK: No idea. I really honestly can’t tell what she is trying to do here. It seems like a distraction tactic. DW: There were a number of positive amendments proposed, such as the expansion of free and reduced lunches, the redefinition of the word teacher to include all educators, such as librarians, counselors, and other support staff, a reallocation of money from incentive programs from results based funding to give raises to support staff, a mandated 250:1 student to counselor ratio (down from its current 900 students to 1 counselor), and a mandated 25:1 student ratio. None of these amendments passed. My question to this is, why are these pro-education, pro-child ideas meeting with political rejection? NK: I cannot know for certain. It certainly shows where the priorities of our elected representatives like, however. DW: The only amendment that passed was a yes vote for charter schools no longer being required to publically post teacher salaries. Why was this proposed and why did it pass? NK: Again, I do not know for certain. But- it does clearly show what is prioritized by those at the capitol. DW: Critics have also claimed that the teacher walk outs were, at best, poor role-modeling for students and, at worst, detrimental to the educational process for Arizona students. How do you reply? NK: What is detrimental to the educational process is not missing classes for six days but, rather, not investing in our students, not having textbooks, not having paper towels, not having teachers. That is what is detrimental to our students. DW: Once the budget was voted upon, teachers returned to their classes. What was that experience like for you? How did your students and their parents greet returning teachers? 93