Arizona Education Association

Winter 2012/13

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VOICE YOUR VIEWS Who can we send feedback to about these candidates? It's suspect to us that there isn't ONE non-Democrat on the Recommended Candidates' list. There are great candidates from other parties that support our schools too. Dennis Thompson, Dysart EA member Dear Mr. Thompson You voiced some objection or concern that the AEA's recommended candidates for the 2012 General Election are all Democrats and suggested that there were pro-public education candidates in other parties as well. To be hon- est, and with all respect, that has generally not been the conclusion of your colleagues in the AEA; and by colleagues, I truly mean members who are regis- tered Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. All Congressional candi- should have the right to organize unencum- bered as a union for collective action and to voice the needs of public schools and students. The basic planks in AEA's agenda are enough dates—of any party—are invited to participate in AEA's recom- mendation process. AEA VP, Joe Thomas; Executive Director, Sheryl Mathis; and I comprise that interview team. Despite AEA's in- vitation, we had no Republican candidates ex- press interest in being interviewed. In fact, many Republican Congressional candidates in the last two elections have included anti-union messag- es in their campaigns. At the legislative level, AEA forms interview teams comprised entirely of AEA members— and not the AEA officers—who interview all candidates from any party who indicate interest in receiving an AEA recommendation. Those team recommendations are then forwarded to the AEA Board of Directors. We did surface one Republican candidate whose views are aligned to AEA's agenda for strong public schools, and he is a recommended candidate for 2012 in LD2. Mr. Thompson, I am on the record as say- ing—very genuinely, I assure you—that the AEA is interested first and foremost in candidates of the Pro-Public Education Party—regardless of their party registration. It is true that AEA does have an agenda for what we believe builds strong public schools, inclusive of investing in our teachers and in other critical roles. As does any other organization, we recommend can- didates based on their support for our agenda. We support education funding to at least the national average of per-pupil funding. We op- pose vouchers and other taxpayer subsidies for private education. We believe that teachers and students should be assessed on a variety of indicators. We believe that teachers and ESPs …the AEA is interested first and foremost in candidates of the Pro-Public Education Party… to create great distance between AEA and most of the Republicans currently running for state office. The reason for this has been well-doc- umented and affirmed by many political experts on both sides of the aisle: The Republican Party in Arizona is now positioned at the extreme right—far more con- servative than it has ever been. Consequently, to win in a pri- mary race in most Republican- strong districts, candidates often must reject any moderate stance and embrace an agenda more befitting the Tea Party than the moderates of just a few years ago. I'll stand on AEA's track record of supporting Republicans—even prioritizing their races—in the 2004, '06, '08, and 2010 Primary elections. I myself have probably walked more routes and made more phone calls in support of moder- ate Republicans than I have for Democrats over the last four elections. But the moderate Republicans have now been kicked out by their own party. When AEA worked so hard in 2008 to re-elect Senator Tom O'Halleran and support Pete Hershberger—both incumbent Republicans and long-time friends of AEA—it was their own party who organized against them. In 2010, AEA recommended Heather Carter and invest- ed both money and volunteers in her campaign bid—only to have her vote against us on all but one critical education issue. The AEA membership is approximately Continued on page 38 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 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 view- points. Generally, letters will not be published without the names of their writers and local associations. M EMBER TALK MEMBER TALK MEMBER TALK Send letters to: "Member Talk," AEA Advocate, 345 East Palm Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85004. Email: AEA Advocate x Winter 2012/13 5

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