Arizona Education Association

Advocate Spring 2012

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VOICE YOUR VIEWS How Low Can we Go? CHiLdren need HeLP! I save everything! I just came across the January 3, 2007 issue of the Arizona Republic's "Valley & State" section that carried a story entitled: "State ranks 49th in education study." "Quality Counts: 2007: From Cradle to Career" was, at that time, the lat- est in a long line of research reports showing Arizona in last place, next- to-last-place, or in the lower quartile among the 50 states in education and childhood related issues. Now, nearly five years later, it still is! Who's not getting this picture? Are citizens in the other regions of our country so different in their values? When people move to Arizona, do they lose their sensibilities regarding education, the well- being of children and support the public schools? I don't think so. I think people in Arizona are so busy try- Thomas C. Carey ing to find a job or making a living that they've forgotten how to live. They've forgotten that their prime responsibility is to protect, nurture, extend, and enrich the lives of the next genera- tion of children in our republic. I'm not pointing fingers, either. I'm just as busy as the next per- son. I have raised three children. Both adults in my home have always worked. We've had our share of family hardships. I'm not much different than my neighbors. I understand how easy it is to get caught-up in just "stayin' alive." I am also a Scottsdale teacher. I teach in an area and at a grade level that allow – maybe force – me to witness the harsh realities of our inattentiveness to our future. I teach eighth-grade students in middle school. According to that old "Quality Counts" study and the demographics of my school, up to 33 percent of my students fall into one or more of three categories that will pretty much determine their economic destiny (and it is even more dramatic today, after 4+ years of the worst eco- nomic recession since the Great Depression). The categories are these: 1) Do they come from English-fluent families? 2) Is the family income above the poverty level (today, that's $45,000 for a family of four)? 3) Do they have at least one college-educated parent who is working full time? The answer to one or more of these questions in nearly one-third of the students I teach is: "NO." And, yes, for those of you who are scratching your head right now, this is in Scottsdale! Increasingly, the popu- lation of the Scottsdale Unified School District is becoming two distinct entities – the "haves" and the "have-nots." This is a dangerous social dilemma, and it is not lim- ited to Scottsdale. In fact, we're much better off than nearly every other district in Arizona. I know that some may be thinking that if people can't/won't be successful here, it's their own fault and/or they ought to simply "go back where they came from." It is not my intent here to enter into the debate on Social Darwinism ("pulling yourself up by your bootstraps") or immigration policy. Those issues will be for others to decide using a different forum. Rather, it is my purpose to tweak the conscience of the reader just enough to cause a little discomfort and to raise the urge to act on behalf of our children. My daddy was one of those guys that always passed along his wisdom using the inspirational quotes of others while making it sound like the Eleventh Commandment. One of his favorites was: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" (which I didn't really get until I needed to pay my own bills). But he made it patently obvious that it was better, less painful, and less expensive to take good care of things before Continued on page 37 Write us! Readers are encouraged to state opinions or make comments in letters that will be considered for publication in this column. The editor reserves the right to edit lengthy letters representing a balance of viewpoints. Generally, letters will not be published without the names of their writers and local associations. Send letters to: "Member Talk," AEA Advocate, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004. Email: AEA Advocate x Spring 2012 5 MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK M EMBER TALK MEMBER TALK

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