Why I Walked

An invited response to Angela Buzan’s heartfelt piece on why she won’t walk out: http://www.storiesfromschoolaz.org/wont-strike-perspective/

I’m tired.  I’ve taught in Arizona for 13 years of my 19 year career.  I’ve watched from the front line as our state has starved the public education system for the past 10 of my years in the classroom.  I’m tired of promoting pro-public education candidates only to have them lose to well-funded politicians bent on destroying everything I believe in about education being for the common good of our society.  I’m tired of advocating for good education policy, only to see bills supporting taxpayer dollars to fund selective private education over the education of all children.  I’m tired of politicians who’ve determined that some students don’t matter as much as others.  I’m tired of broken promises.

This is my daughter’s first protest to education cuts. She’s now 10 years old. She’s NEVER had a fully funded education in Arizona.

I don’t have the resources to do my job as a teacher effectively anymore.  I have too many students to properly develop essential relationships.  I have students with severe needs and trauma I am not equipped to address without a counselor.  Our special education teachers’ caseloads are overwhelming.  I don’t have the resources to help my students succeed.

I’m not alone.

Half the teaching positions in Arizona are either vacant or filled by someone not qualified to teach our students.  I’ve watched colleague after colleague suffer from the alienation, despair, exhaustion, and helplessness that lead to burnout and demoralization.  I’ve seen teacher after teacher leave Arizona or leave our profession altogether.

My student teacher, a veteran with a 32-year career in the military, told me with tears in his eyes after a particularly difficult day in our classroom, “Combat is easier than teaching.”

Let that sink in.

I don’t know where the walkout will lead us.  But I know what got us to this point.  Under-funding our schools is educational malpractice.  I’ve taken the same mandated reporter training for every year of my career.  I am legally obligated to report abuse and neglect.  I’m reporting the state of Arizona for not doing its constitutional duty in educating our children.  That’s why I walked out.  My job as a teacher is too critical.  My students are too important to me to stay and let them suffer in silence.

Food bags our PTO and teachers made for our students during the walkout.

Food bags our PTO and teachers made for our students during the walkout.

There is no change without sacrifice.  Our students have been sacrificing their education for a decade.  So now we, the nurses, crossing guards, counselors, parents, librarians, cafeteria workers, plant managers, paraprofessionals, and teachers are sacrificing so they won’t have to forfeit their education any longer.

T.S. Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”  I’m willing to walkout to see how far we can go together.

 

 

Beth Maloney

I am in my twentieth year of teaching and enjoy every minute of my time in the classroom. I have taught kindergarten, third grade, and currently teach fifth-grade science and social studies in Surprise, Arizona. I am an enthusiastic public school advocate. I am a National Board Certified Teacher and a Candidate Support Provider for the Arizona K12 Center, where I coach and mentor other teachers undergoing the rigorous National Board certification. I am the past president and co-founder of the Arizona National Board Certified Teacher Network and president and founder of the Arizona Chapter of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. I am honored to be Arizona’s 2014 Teacher of the Year and appreciate having the opportunity to represent the teachers of Arizona. I love talking with and learning from other teachers around the world. I strongly believe that teacher voice in the public education dialogue is the best way to make change for the better for all students.

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