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Am I your child's teacher?


Publishers Note - We just received this letter from one of the local teachers. This addresses the financial side of this problem. It does not address the many other problems that we are hearing about from other teachers -- for example, the language that is being allowed to be used by students and directed at teachers with no repercussions. Are you a teacher or in the public school system? What would you like to add to this?

I am not Joe, Jack, or Sam Ducey's classroom teacher, (they go to private school) but I may be your child's teacher.

Whom do you want educating your children and future members of society?

As a parent, no doubt you want the best for your children. Believe it or not, as a teacher who instructs in public schools, I want the same exact thing. My motto is do what is best for students, but quite frankly, my hands are tied.

Do you want your child's teacher to --

-teach 35+ students per class?

-live paycheck to paycheck?

-have two or more jobs to pay for the cost of insurance premiums for his or her own family?

-fund his or her own classroom just to cover basic supplies because the one box of paper and $50 allotment for the school year for 176 students is not enough?

-be one of the lowest paid teachers in the country?

-perform duties before and after school uncompensated but expected?

-dread calling in sick because fellow teachers have to give up their only prep period to substitute for him or her out of the goodness of their hearts?

-cringe because his or her property taxes increased more than his or her so-called pay raise?

-despite being highly qualified with years of experience and deemed a "highly effective teacher" earn as much as an entry-level teacher who may have inferior teaching credentials?

-go in to huge amounts of debt to further his or her education by tacking on student loans, without receiving a substantial pay raise to compensate for the financial cost of obtaining it over a reasonable period of time?

-spend spring break educating the public on what is really happening to public school funding and has been since 2008? This obviously takes time away from lesson prepping and other necessary preparation that will get done regardless because the teacher is a professional. (Yes, we work when we are not at school.)

-receive a one-time 1 percent stipend (not a raise), not even enough to cover the cost of a low-end car payment?

I am devastated to announce that this teacher is me. I am even more disgusted that my story is one of the better stories. In comparison many other teachers in the state live through much worse every day. How can your children get even close to what they deserve when one of the most influential people, next to you of course, is being treated and bullied so badly?

I may very well be your child's teacher or have been in the past. I am the educator of currently 176 students and have instructed over 1,300 children in Arizona from ages 11-18 in the last 8 years. I can't speak for all 55,000 educators in Arizona, but this is the story of my current students' teacher. I want the best for them and their future. I have let them down for far too long by accepting this working environment as acceptable. Your child really deserves teachers who at bare minimum --

-earn a livable wage (covers more than housing and transportation),

-work one job to fully dedicate more time to focus on the academic needs of individual students, not having to depend on significant others' financial contribution or even their parents',

-have the necessary school supplies worry-free -- not at their own expense -- to enhance lessons and engage students in meaningful learning experiences,

-have manageable class sizes to better serve the needs of each individual child,

-are compensated fairly for additional services required to educate students such as monitoring/tutoring before and after school,

-are able to sleep at night knowing that their families have decent health insurance,

-have the highest education and are fairly rewarded for it through adequate compensation upon advancement of degrees and years of service,

-advocate for your student along with the leaders of the State of Arizona, and

-are healthy and not stressed because of working conditions.

I want to be the best teacher for your child, because your child deserves the best. Is this too much to ask?

As someone educated yourself, I'm sure you are aware of research showing the correlation between happy employees and customers. Think of your experience going to Walmart verses going to Target. Or what about your last visit to Dutch Brothers verses Dunkin Donuts? (I'm getting off topic -- but you get the idea. How much more would your children benefit if they had a teacher whom they truly deserve?

We need to set the example for our children.

Condescending comments from those in power at the federal and state levels are causing enough damage to our students and their perception of their teachers -- yet another reason I'm standing up. Such comments witnessed by my fellow colleagues and me from the public continue:

"Well, you know what you got yourself into when you got into the profession."

"I pay your salary with my taxes."

"Well, you do work hard, but you get summers off, don't you?"

"You work a 9-4."

"If you don't like it, move to another state."

"I don't want my property taxes to increase."

Although these comments are insulting and mostly half-truths, the teacher in me, implores you to do your own investigation and draw your own conclusions. You may not have to turn our findings in for a grade, but what you decide to do with your knowledge will definitely affect your children if they attend a public school.

Do we support a political ideology that is backed by those who don't send their own children to public schools? Are Joe, Jack and Sam Ducey affected by having an overworked, underpaid, and unsupported teacher who instruct them on a daily basis? Do we support policies called "parent choice" that instead of fixing the problem, divert funding from the very schools educating the majority of the population while giving tax credits to big corporations? Do we give our allegiance to legislatures that give tax credits to 1% of the richest people in Arizona, while our own children are deprived of having a better teacher? Do we invest in the education of our own children by providing them with the best teacher they can have?

Talk to your children about their classroom teacher. Can they tell that their teacher is stressed out from the growing demands and the diminishing pay year after year? I bet they can and this is appalling and unacceptable.

I encourage you to talk to your children's teachers and hear their stories. You may be surprised!

Vanessa Medina




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