Letter to the Editor: Teachers Get No Respect

The following Letter to the Editor written by Anita Christy was published in the August 8, 2014 edition of the Payson Roundup.

Editor:

On July 21, the Payson School Board voted to send a continuation of the 10 percent property tax override to the November 2014 ballot, just as they did in 2004, 2008 and 2010. If it fails, what will the board cut? Their top priority: Teachers? They’ve done it before. It’s like taking pickles out of a jar. The first one is difficult. It gets easier after that.

For the last 10 years, the Payson School Board has been shifting its spending away from the classroom in favor of non-classroom. In FY 2003, spending in the classroom was 61.5 percent; non-classroom was 38.5 percent. As of FY 2013, classroom spending dropped to 53.3 percent. Non-classroom spending rose to 46.7 percent.

The board routinely makes financial decisions. They direct money to be spent: 1) In the classroom to support teachers and students; or 2) Somewhere else.

Supporting teachers isn’t about giving them unsustainable salary increases followed by lay-offs. It’s about taking the handcuffs off and letting them teach; hiring more teachers and aides to reduce class sizes; giving them the resources they need; following your own policies and procedures; refusing to lay off any of them because of the failure of an override.

The board acted irresponsibly in passing out recent “feel good” salary increases. The truth is that, even before the salary increase, Payson teachers received better compensation than teachers in other rural districts of the same size student population. (See the Arizona Auditor General's Report.) Payson teachers are also paid better than the state average. In fact, Arizona teacher pay ranks 14th in the nation, according to a recent Capitol Times article titled “Arizona teacher pay ranks higher than reported.”

If teachers leave the district, it isn’t because of low pay. It’s because they get no respect.

Anita Christy

Auditor General's Report

Click HERE to read the letter in the Payson Roundup.