Why I Will Wear #REDforED

I will wear red tomorrow, Wednesday, March 7,  because I am a professional, and I deserve to be paid like one. I refuse to say “I’m not in it for the money,” because I pay my bills with this paycheck, and buy my kids what they need. I hope to send my kids to college with this paycheck, and I try to think about retirement one day, based on this paycheck. I try to be a good spouse with this paycheck and be there to support everyone when times are less than ideal, with this paycheck.

I will wear red tomorrow because someone close to me actually brings home more disability pay each month than I see in my check (even before insurance premiums are deducted.)

I will wear red tomorrow because any modest increases in pay have been largely offset by higher insurance and healthcare costs, higher retirement contributions and inflation.

I will wear red tomorrow because teachers have been asked to bear the brunt of the cuts to education for the past decade. We have taken on higher student loads, more duties supervising students, more custodial tasks in the classroom, more expenses for classroom supplies, more mentoring and support of new teachers and uncertified teachers, more covering of our colleagues’ classes on our planning time, more nursing and counseling duties, more responsibilitiy for school libraries, art and P.E., all while being held to high professional standards and higher accountability for the progress of our students.

I will wear red tomorrow because it angers me that my colleagues in southern Arizona get paid so much less than we do in Maricopa County, and have not seen significant permanent increases in over a decade.

I will wear red tomorrow because in districts across the state, in many cases experienced professionals make less than new teachers because their salaries have been frozen over the years.

I will wear red tomorrow because in rural districts throughout the state, uncertified and untrained community members are in classrooms teaching children, and getting paid the same as a highly qualified teacher. Rural districts are struggling to recruit teachers.

I will wear red tomorrow because, as ugly and secure as the new fences around our schools appear, I know that we truly harden our schools best through the soft skills of the professionals on campus, who watch vigilantly, learn about our students and work to create positive learning environments.

I will wear red tomorrow because nobody should have 35 students or more in a core academic class.

I will wear red tomorrow because no teacher should lose bonus pay for teaching in a school with majority poor and minority students, while the schools with higher socioeconomic populations are given extra teacher pay and praised for their efforts.

I will wear red tomorrow because we need to hold charter schools financially and academically accountable to our state’s families.

I will wear red tomorrow because our leaders continue to push through bills to cut taxes and expand private school vouchers, when they haven’t lived up to the promises they made when we passed Proposition 123, a devil’s bargain which was supposed to be the first of many steps to properly fund education in this state.

I will wear red tomorrow because I deserve better, and the students of our state deserve the best we can give them. And the time is now. red pencil

 

 

Amethyst Hinton Sainz

I currently teach English Language Development at Rhodes Junior High in Mesa Public Schools. I love seeing the incredible growth in my students and being an advocate for them. I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent and Young Adult English Language Arts. Before this position I taught high school English in Arizona for 20 years.

My alma maters are Blue Ridge High School and the University of Arizona. My bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy led me toward the College of Education, and I soon realized that the creative challenges of teaching would fuel me throughout my career. My love of language, literature and culture led me to the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College for my masters in English Literature. I am a fellow with the Southern Arizona Writing Project, and that professional development along with, later, the National Board process, has been the most influential and transformative learning for me. I enjoy teaching students across the spectrum of academic ability, and keeping up with new possibilities for technology in education, as well as exploring more topics in STEM.

In recent years, much of my professional development has focused on teacher leadership, but I feel like I am still searching for exactly what that means for me.

I live in Mesa, Arizona with my family. I enjoy them, as well as my vegetable garden, our backyard chickens, our dachshund Roxy, reading, writing, cooking (but not doing dishes), hiking and camping, and travel, among other things.

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