By NICHOLAS TRUJILLO
If you live in Arizona, you are already aware that our state is one of the worst states when it comes to education. The good ol’ Copper State has been on the bottom of the charts for teacher and instructional staff salaries for quite some time. I still remember in fifth grade listening to teachers worry that their salaries wouldn’t cover their living expenses. This was only more evident come high school. Today, it’s refreshing to see more teachers taking a stand. Oklahoma and Kentucky are some of the notable school districts that recently have been closed because a majority of the teachers went on strike. As of 2016, Oklahoma was only slightly above Arizona in pay, ranking at No. 48 in the United States. Arizona came in dead last, according to the National Education Association. Many school districts aren’t talking about raising pay,
however. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently increased the tax on cigarettes, oil and gas production, which provided teachers with a 16 to 18 percent raise, according to Associated Press. But this isn’t good enough. A teacher will almost always impact the lives of their students in some way. After the raise from Fallin, other educators agreed that this wasn’t enough and walked out. However, the best part of the rallies comes from the fact that most of the teachers are protesting for education funding for their students. Think about that, think about all the times you gave your teacher shit. Then think that after all that, they still wake up to protest to get more education funding for you. Teachers are selfless in their own right. Many spend hours after their clock-out time to help students succeed. They also feed educated youth into the workforce in order to improve the economy. It’s only a matter of time before Arizona teachers see this and start to make their own moves. And when they do, make sure you’re there right by their sides. Because we have witnessed just what teenagers can do when they get angry. Student walk-outs and protests galore is what I see happening. As of 2016, Arizona ranked 14th in the nation for fall
enrollment, with 1,062,764 students enrolled. Imagine just a quarter of these students going out and protesting for more money for their education and teachers. That would be just over 265,000 students marching to the state capitol to demand more funding. Pima Community College students going to Phoenix and demanding more money for schools would be a sight to see and surely would make the national news. Of course, I can’t tell you to do that. I can only paint a picture with words on this paper. If you read the last issue of the Aztec Press, you might have found out that PCC currently receives zero dollars in funding from the state. Yes, zero. Most of the money for Pima comes from tuition and property taxes, but with a school that serves just shy of 20,000 students, you would think it needs more money to properly accomplish its mission. While Pima is doing all it can to show the state why it deserves more money for our institution, would it be so bad to show the state that it’s not just the school board that wants the funding, but also the students? While adults certainly can get a lot done, in this day and age, the younger generation has started to find their voice. They shouldn’t stop now.