Teachers try to educate lawmakers
- To: "arn-L" <email@example.com>
- Subject: Teachers try to educate lawmakers
- From: vs <firstname.lastname@example.org>(by way of Victor Steinbok <email@example.com>)
- Date: Fri, 05 Mar 2004 02:17:49 -0500
Another state is beginning to wobble.
Teachers try to educate lawmakers
3,000 rally to take issue with pay, requirements of Bush legislation
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 4, 2004 12:00 AM
About 3,000 public-school teachers, students and school administrators
swarmed the state Capitol on Wednesday to press lawmakers to raise teacher
pay and to protest the unfunded requirements in President Bush's No Child
Left Behind Act.
The rally took on a rock-concert atmosphere as more than 60 buses dropped
off chanting, sign-wielding educators from around the Valley and state
throughout the late afternoon.
Many wore T-shirts that said "I am not a terrorist," a reference to
Secretary of Education Rod Paige's recent comment to a group of governors
that the National Education Association was a "terrorist organization." The
nationwide teachers union has been critical of No Child Left Behind, and
its Arizona branch organized Wednesday's rally.
"I think you are the nicest terrorists that I've ever seen," Napolitano
told the crowd. "I was in the meeting with Secretary Paige (who has since
apologized), and he wasn't kidding."
Napolitano touted her budget, which calls for more than $25 million to
start all-day kindergarten and $53 million to boost pay for teachers and
other state employees despite a $300 million revenue shortfall. She also
called on federal lawmakers to pay for the new testing and accountability
mandates in the No Child Left Behind Act.
Norb Schneider, a history teacher at Independence High School in Glendale,
said the more tests teachers give, the less time they have for instruction.
But he was most upset with Paige's comments.
"I see myself as a stand-up parent, and I spend more time with some of
these kids than they spend at home, spending a lot of my own money on
supplies," Schneider said. "For someone to call me a terrorist is just
For Paradise Valley High School art department head Todd Parten, the
legislature's most pressing issue is teacher pay. Parten said he has not
gotten more than a 1 percent raise in four years, while his take-home pay
has shrunk because of increased health-care premiums.
"I can handle not getting a raise, just don't take money away from me,"
said Parten, a father of two whose salary is about $36,000 after eight
years in the classroom. "I can't afford to take care of my family."
Senate Appropriations Chairman Bob Burns took issue with many of the
protesters who said Arizona ranks 49th in education funding. Burns said
lawmakers have increased school spending by $2 billion since 2001, and
Arizona leads the nation in school-construction spending. He also said the
state is above the national average for teacher salaries when you factor in
the state's low cost of living.
"That ranking is a bogus number," said Burns, R-Glendale. "Our education
spending is adequate. We ought to be taking pride in what we are doing in
education instead of constantly being on the negative."
Earlier, a group of House Republicans, education leaders and school
officials stood up against a legislative effort to opt out of the Bush
administration's No Child Left Behind Act. Rep. Bill Konopnicki, R-Safford,
said the Bush mandates need some reforms and funding, but he's not willing
to cost the state $331 million in federal education aid if Arizona follows
Utah and opts to go it alone.
House Majority Leader Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, is sponsoring the effort
to opt out, saying that without the mandates on testing, teacher experience
and accountability, schools could lower their administrative expenses and
wouldn't need the federal money.
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