Dear Gov. Ducey,
First of all, everything I am about to say are my own views and opinions but are incredibly valid. I am one of 50 students on your Youth Commission. I work under you and I am supposed to represent you to the youth. However, with all due respect, I believe that I cannot represent you to my peers while you write and support legislation that does not support us. As students, our education and growth is often left up to our teachers who have the most impact on student success. By refusing to push for proper funding for all public schools and the people they employ, you are refusing to support students.
I am from Yuma County and represent this county on the Commission. My city has a poverty rate of almost 20 percent with the median HOUSEHOLD income being approximately $41,467. Many of our students, Yuma alone has over 40,000, rely on school for reasons ranging from an excuse to stay out of trouble to the only reliable food source in their life. With this upcoming teacher strike, students in Yuma lose the only source of stability that they have and we are not the only community dealing with this issue. Your sons attend a privately-funded school in Phoenix. There is nothing wrong with that and school choice is important, however, you and your children and the majority of those in Phoenix schools (public or private) will never experience the type of uncertainty that students in Yuma and across Arizona will.
This strike could have been avoided if your administration, and the countless before you, had decided to solve a problem, the solution of which can be found in the requests of these teachers and not in the proposal that you announced recently. There is a way to fund both teacher salaries and the programs that help those in need, such as special education. There is a reason these teachers are demanding raises, pay increases according to inflation, and more.
They see every day the impact that low funding and poor teacher pay has on schools and student success. Instead of promises and proposals, which you have done in the past yet we have seen no impact from, provide action and proof. If you do not provide this support, students, who will one day become voting constituents, will remember. And their parents, who are already struggling to provide, will also remember. Please, Gov. Ducey , do not allow for my peers to believe that their Governor has left them behind. And do not allow me to represent a Governor that will not support education.
Katie Compton is a senior at Gila Ridge High School and a member of the Governor’s Youth Commission.
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.