Arizona teachers protest low pay and lack of respect
- The Hechinger report recounts the story of Mitch and Jennie Askew, a married couple of teachers who joined the Arizona teacher protest movement as they saw education funding and teacher pay in Arizona and other "red" states continue to fall.
- In Arizona, the average teacher pay has fallen from $53,000 to $47,000 since 2009, the teacher turnover rate has increased, and enrollment in undergraduate and graduate teaching programs has dropped by 20%.
- However, Arizona teachers say that other factors contribute to a perceived decline in the status of the profession as teachers have been blamed for social problems and low graduation rates in impoverished neighborhoods and have been constrained by high-stakes standardized testing.
The Arizona teacher’s strike may be drawing to a close. However, this event is just the latest in a series of walkouts and protests by teachers in other parts of the nation. Though teacher salaries have begun to climb in some states, Sylvia Allegretto, an economist at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, recently reported that teachers in many states across the nation are seeing a reduction in pay after it is adjusted for inflation.
School administrators have little control over teacher pay or other budgetary issues. However, there are other areas of concern for teachers that are driving some out of the profession which are more within an administrator’s control. In an article, Vanessa Torres, an award-winning South Carolina teacher and Rita Allison, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, make a case for using love and respect as ways to attract and keep teaching professionals.
“Studies show that educators are more interested in teaching in schools with good working conditions than they are with increased pay," they write. "When schools manage and effectively respond to student behavioral problems, and give teachers more say in school operations, teacher retention increases. Moreover, teachers who work with a mentor and have regular and supportive communication with an administrator are more likely to stay in the profession."
- The Hechinger Report Are teachers losing their grip on the middle class?