Arizona Education Association

Spring 2017

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L ast month, a historic number of Association members across the nation acted to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education. People demanded the President pick someone more qualified to run the Department of Education, as it impacts every school district in the nation. People called and emailed, and they were right to demand competence. In the closest confirmation in our nation's history, the Vice President cast the tie-breaking vote, 51-50, and the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. The DeVos confirmation is a good example of what has long kept us from having the public schools we deserve to work in. It isn't enough to have the right demands. And it's not enough that you have passion behind your demands. Both of those are important, but if being passionate and right were enough, then we would have changed our situation long ago. Our demands for lower class sizes, competitive compensation, fully-staffed schools, and respect for teachers and education support professionals require billions of dollars from the state. The demands are right, and we are certainly passionate about them, but it will take more than emails and phone calls to have them met. We must decide what we are willing to risk to have our demands met. What actions will we take? What time and energy will we stop sacrificing to the way things currently are, and what time and energy will we start sacrificing to the way we want things to be? These are not rhetorical questions. What will you personally risk to see our situation change? Will you talk to your colleagues about your frustrations and your solutions? Will you challenge non-members to join ranks with you? Will you risk speaking up in a site meeting, a governing board meeting, or in public? And collectively, will we decide to believe in the power of our own actions instead of hoping that someday someone else will change things for us? Together we must stand up, be uncomfortable, and take the risk. That's how we'll build power, through personal, meaningful actions that build capacity and momentum until we are too large, too loud to be ignored. And we will succeed only when the actions and the people participating in those actions are equal to the size of the demands we are making. (Read that over and over until you memorize it.) Talk to your site leaders and your local president. Decide what local actions you can take to build power to the level required to have our demands met. Remember the lesson of Betsy DeVos – it will take more than calls and emails. Have your local president contact me at with your plan of action. AEA can bring the changes we need to have quality public schools for every student in our state, but only when you remember You Are the AEA. For ourselves and our students, it's time to decide to act, to risk, and to win. 4 ADVOCATE | SPRING 2017 IN SOLIDARITY by Joe Thomas AEA OFFICERS Joe Thomas President Marisol Garcia Vice President Angela Philpot Treasurer AEA STAFF Mark J. Simons Executive Director Sheenae Shannon Editor Roxanne Rash Graphic Design Advertising The AEA Advocate is published by the Arizona Education Association, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, Arizona 85004-1532. Phone: 602- 264-1774 or 800-352-5411 Fax: 602-240-6887. Email: AEA's website may be found at Permission to reprint any material originating with this publication is granted provided that credit is given to the AEA Advocate. The AEA Advocate (ISSN 0194-8849) is published in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer for $3.50 per year by the Arizona Education Association, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1532. Periodicals postage paid at Phoenix, Arizona. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the AEA Advocate, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004-1532. Moving? Please let us know before you go. Simply clip your mailing label from the back of the Advocate and send it along with your new address to: AEA Advocate 345 East Palm Lane Phoenix, Arizona 85004-1532 - 9 n Joseph H. Thomas, President Arizona Education Association

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