Monday, April 30, 2018

April 2018 Newsletter Part I: #REDforED

Good Morning Friends of TUSD!

I hope this message finds you well.  I am, once again, writing with an update about TUSD.  This time, I decided to focus on two main topics of interest: #REDforED (Part I) and the matter of renewing administrator contracts in TUSD (PART II).  This email is Part I.  I will send Part II this evening.

I will write next month about the actions we took at individual meetings and why I maintain that there is no board majority (or at least, it’s not what you think).  But that’s for next month.

#REDforED

For today, please know that the TUSD Board supports #REDforED, and we voted to adopt a resolution in support of their efforts to petition the government to restore (and increase) per pupil funding in Arizona.  #REDforED is not a political movement—it is not about getting a particular representative from any party (Democrat, Republican, Independent, etc.) elected.  It is also not led by AEA, much less TEA.  #REDforED is about:

Again, #REDforED is about restoring per pupil funding; it is not about teacher salaries.  The movement is about convincing our elected representatives that it is time to fund Arizona’s public school system, as required under the Arizona Constitution, and as ordered by the courts (Arizona has been trying to not fund our public schools for many, many years). 

That the #REDforED movement was necessary highlights the fact that Mr. Ducey is not a pro-education representative.  But he can be.  If he does what he says he would. 

If you agree, or if you support #REDforED, write to Mr. Ducey here: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/demands.  Let him know that we demand that he and the legislature figure it out: restore per-pupil funding to our schools, by implementing a new tax if necessary—or do not plan on returning to office.  Period.  

See: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/11/13/arizona-school-funding/782457001/ for a nice overview of the issues in Arizona.  One example: “Currently, school districts are getting about 15 percent of what they were initially told they would get each year in what's called District Additional Assistance; charter schools are receiving about 85 percent in Charter Additional Assistance.”  We are sick of our highest paid and most influential politicians’ empty promises.    

We should not have to sue the state (we are currently suing the state for underfunding our public schools: https://azednews.com/schools-education-advocates-sue-arizona-legislature-capital-funding/) or walk en masse at the capital to get our own representatives to listen to us.  I, for one, will not vote to elect any current representative who does not actively, openly, and loudly advocate to restore—and increase—per pupil funding in the state of Arizona.  And soon.  Really, really soon. 

TUSD is #REDforED

The pro #REDforED resolution TUSD adopted includes the following sentence: “Be it resolved that the Tucson Unified Governing Board is in full support of our educators and stands ready to take steps necessary to improve salaries and working conditions for our school employees.” 

I say it is now time to show our educators—and our entire community—that we were serious.  The resolution was not just lip service, and we will do what it takes to honor our promises.  To that end, I have requested that the board discuss and vote on the following funding priorities:

1)    increase teacher salaries to $50,000/year at year three on Salary Schedule A by 2020;

2)    increase education support professional salaries to $50,000/year by year five on Salary Schedule B by 2020;

3)    establish a permanent certified salary structure which includes annual raises of at least 10%;

4)    spend more than 53% in the classroom in 2018/19 and increase that number by 2% each school year thereafter;

5)    decrease operational and central administration costs;

6)    give no bonuses to central office administrators until we achieve these goals, as permitted by law and contract.

I have not heard back from the board president or superintendent as to whether they will add the matter to an agenda or not.  It has only been two days since I sent the request.  I suspect the answer is: not.  

But we are out of time; the time for action is now.  We are in a state of emergency.  Our educators have walked out.  School is closed.  

Those who work directly with our students are tired of being used, abused, and ignored.  TUSD’s central office continues to be well staffed, well paid, and well resourced, and results are questionable.  No offense.  I can’t help but notice the obvious.

I say it is time for a change, time for TUSD to prioritize in the budget those who are truly most important to TUSD’s success, to the success of our students.  If you support these 6 funding priorities, please write to board@tusd1.org and let us know it.  Maybe, together, we can get this item on an agenda.  

To get the item on the May 1 agenda and not violate the Open Meeting Law, it would have to be added before 5 PM today.  So, please, write to the board, to Dr. Stegeman and Dr. Trujillo, and tell us all if you agree that the board should discuss this matter tomorrow.  Here is the agenda item request form that I sent in:

If you agree, write to us and let us know that it’s our responsibility to help the #REDforED movement by investing as much as possible directly in the classroom and in the people who make class possible: teachers, counselors, social workers, student support personnel, bus drivers, monitors, custodians, food services personnel, teaching assistants, librarians, nurses...the list goes on. 

Tell us that we can do better, that TUSD can do better—we can partner with innovators to operate more efficiently, we can put savings in the classroom, we can place teachers (not central administrators) at the top of the pay scale, we can condense the pay scale, and we can spend on books and classroom (and bathroom) supplies instead of on political nonsense. 

We can put our students first! And until we do, it won’t be easy to convince the State to fully fund education. So—please—let us know what you think of our budget priorities. Do you think we can do better? Speak up! 

Part II will follow this afternoon.  Have a great day!

Thank you,
Rachael Sedgwick

#AnímateYa  #LetsDoThis  #REDforED

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