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What’s Happening in Arizona and Why I’m Rallying: Guest Post from The Creative Classroom

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As a part of the “Politics” section of my blog, I’ll be bringing you relevant posts by not only myself, but other educators who are dealing with the issues being discussed. This post is one part of the four part series featuring the teacher strikes that are happening across the country.
This guest post is brought to you by Ashlyn from The Creative Classroom. 
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Does our community, leaders and friends support and understand what’s going on currently in education? As an Arizona teacher, I have learned quickly who is rallying behind me and supporting an effort that we cannot back down on. My name is Ashlyn Ellsworth and I’m a teacher in Chandler, Arizona.
I have been in education for 12 years. During my time as a teacher, I have taught in 3 different states, 4 different districts and alongside many amazing teachers who do their very best every single day for their students. After 12 years of teaching I can say I am still making less than I did as a new teacher in other states. My salary in Arizona is pitiful!Arizona is ranked one of the lowest in elementary teacher salaries and we have not seen significant raises in over 10 years. If I had to support myself, I wouldn’t be able to live each month on a teacher’s salary. With added expenses of healthcare, school loans and other bills, I have had to look elsewhere for opportunities to make additional money to cover my monthly costs of living here in Arizona. The worst part is that because of the low salaries in our state, teachers are fleeing to other states for better pay. This has led to over 2,000 unfilled teaching jobs. These classrooms are left with unqualified substitutes to teach the content that they barely know. This isn’t the way to educate and prepare our future!
When I graduated college many years ago, I knew what I was getting myself into. I was ready for the low pay, runny noses, untied shoes, struggling readers, gifted students, after school meetings, parent conferences, committees and field trips. What I wasn’t ready for was pay freezes, high healthcare costs, large class sizes, loss of jobs because of low enrollment, gun control concerns, and increased behavior issues. The future is in our classrooms and we need the respect and encouragement from our lawmakers. We need the support and funds for our schools, students and teachers. Teachers are the ones who are preparing students to become doctors, lawyers, athletes and musicians. Where is the respect for a career that has lost it’s value and appreciation? Why is it that many ask, “Why would you choose teaching when you know it’s a low paying career?” I chose teaching because it’s for the students. I didn’t choose teaching for me! Support our students, support our communities, support our Arizona future!

Teaching is a Political Act

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As a teacher in the “online teaching community”, I’ve noticed that many teachers are “just here for the cutesy”. Whether I or my friends have posted about something political and have lost many followers, or by the comments and DMs that I’ve seen exchanged on Instagram, there are many people that seem to not want teachers to engage in any dialogue about things that seem “political”. The best conversations I’ve seen on Instagram and Facebook, however, have revolved around someone’s “political” posts–whether they have pushed teachers to be more reflective in their practice, in their personal life or have helped people to re-examine how they use their platforms to advocate for others and causes that matter.

For my blog’s re-branding, I’m shifting away from just posting about things “for middle school teachers” and I’ve simply changed the name to “A Blog for Teachers”. In an effort to make the blog more “me” and so I can also work to extend some conversations that are happening in the online teacher community to longer blog posts, I am expanding my focus to also include “Politics”. I have a passion for teaching, connecting with others and in politics. I want my blog to reflect those things. My teaching posts will be the same old stuff you’re used to–middle school tips and tricks. My blogging posts will be to engage the Teacher Blogger Seller + Network and to help out teachers who want to start their own business as a teacher blogger or Teachers Pay Teachers seller (which has become a passion of mine!). And my Political Posts will be an effort to bring authentic voices to issues that are already being discussed in our online communities–whether about current events, gun violence advocacy, cultural competency, unpacking privilege, etc.

I want to be proof that is it okay to not be silent on “political issues”–you will still run your successful business. I want to show others that talking about things that may seem uncomfortable helps make us all better.

Teaching in and of itself is a political act. Teachers are change agents. We all need to become more comfortable engaging with material that educates us, pushes us and forces us to reflect. I hope my little slice of internet real estate can help us all continue to do this.

If you have a post idea or would like to be a guest contributor for a political post, please email me at kelseynhayes@gmail.com.

 

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