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.
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!