Almost everyone in Arizona wants to improve our educational system and an almost equal number don’t want to pay for any of these improvements. This dichotomy manifests itself in overwhelming verbal support for public education except when the public is asked to fund the system they portend to support!
The elephant in the room that few want to address is that Arizona will continue to flounder in national educational competition until we provide additional resources to our schools. To wit, what person wants to get into education as a career today or remain in education as a career when their wages are disproportionate to their schooling and to their worth to society, when they are continually blamed for the ills of our educational system even though they are not provided with the needed resources to succeed, and where their job security is jeopardized on an almost annual basis? Don’t believe this? Ask any relative, friend or neighbor that is an educator in Arizona and they will probably tell you that if they could, they might rescind their career choice. Money talks.
In Arizona we would rather appoint blue ribbon committees, impose AIMS testing on students, invoke legislative edicts, or even enlist various Arizona mayors to discuss improving education rather than pay the bill of fare to improve education in our state. Here’s the “bottom line” i.e., we’ll continue to be in the lower quarter of educational achievement unless we pay our teachers comparable to what we pay accountants, business majors, computer technicians, district managers, engineers, etc. It’s difficult to focus 100 percent on their jobs (students) when educators can’t pay off their student loans, buy a home, pay the mortgage, save for college for their kids, etc. We want all of our educators to be exceptional, but we want to “reward” them with paltry wages. We’ll continue to have this educational improvement discussion until we fund our schools beyond the bare essentials.
If Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel, had underpaid his engineers and underfunded his facilities, Intel would probably not have vaulted to the top of the microchip business. The lesson is that you get what you pay for in business, industry, or education.
I’d love to be around when we can proudly say to any business wanting to locate in Arizona, come not only for our sunshine, but also for our superior and stupendous schools.
Richard K. Meszar, Ed.D.