AEA Owed Members Solutions Not Storm Reports

by Gayle Plato, M. Ed.

In light of July 1, 2009, new budget time clock, the bickering, the social spending plays and ploys, I look at the clouds building along the Northeast skyline of the Valley.  Arizona monsoon brings the heat, stuffy hot air, and lots of big thundering heads.  Many get scared of the cracking bolts- energy that lights up the night with terror and flash. I look at the clouds, a bit seasoned, and I know: this storm is all flash-point build up of energy with little real power. By the time the storm hits the freeway, it might be a sprinkle, some wind and dust cover.  I tell my son not to worry, rather I see a teachable moment about storms. But that’s the nature of things; parents help children understand that nature, while scary at times, is guided by principles and rules. It all blows by, one way or another.

In the light of day comes the reality. There are rules and guidelines in place for reasons. But, we are all voters of recognition and desire respect.  If spending gets out of control, the society “floods” unnaturally, with our money flowing out via the Community Chest.  All the structures are eroded away; natural function is supplanted by dictated regulation. There is no Pass Go card in this game. Years pass by and the programs grow to the billions of dollars with everyone justifying the system. Sooner or later a tipping point is inevitable. Liquidity dries up. This is a desert after all.

The Arizona Education Association might be one of the most vocal statewide groups regarding our fiscal budget.  They’ve been clapping thunder about the looming budgetary storm for months.  Yet, in light of economic crisis, one could hope to find insight and innovative ideas on how to solve the economic problems from a group of educators. Other than articles discussing President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and how it’s only a temporary support, I found a few opinion pieces.  One article currently featured at their website, written over a year ago, holds words of deep brilliance from John Wright, President:

“Property and income tax assessments are the pathway to a more stable system of taxation that produces consistent revenue. To invest in the future, Arizona should transition to a more forward-thinking tax structure. ” (Published: 03.04.2008, Arizona Daily Star)

Then there are some insightful videos with sarcastic innuendo but light on substance (see AEA page:
I don’t know if President Wright could pass the citizen civics test portion some AZ high school students bombed ( see story below on this blog), or whether he’s taken an economics class, but no one can promote taxes for growth, especially on a tax base shrinking at exponential rates.  Does Mr. Wright know that Maricopa County is GROUND ZERO for mortgage default?

All social programming is a big thunder cloud with little rain. The drought just gets pushed out a few months or year here and there. Very few systems can claim ANY success without requiring more money every fiscal year.  By the purest math of that, the programs are NOT cost effective. Only programming that is designed to foster personal responsibility and resiliency can offer any permanent value.  Think mentorship v. panhandling; we all know which one makes fiscal and social sense.  All of us not members of the AEA that is.

Moreover, as the state legislature, governor, and all lobbying groups fought this out, I ask AEA members, and any other social agencies shouting loudly, what ideas did you have that made ANY fiscal sense OTHER than taxing money that does not exist?

I proposed the AEA get serious about thinking outside of the box and analyzing how to rewrite the Arizona Lottery funding; the Goldwater Institute developed in-depth analysis about paying teachers much more while creating a cutting edge standards requirement for those teachers.  Flat-tax, rainy day funds, creative financing, selling district school buildings, sub-contracting programs and administration all have been proposed by MANY groups and citizens. Where is just one unique idea coming out of the AEA?

It’s so easy to clap, stomp, and blow hot air.  John Wright owes it to his members, scared educators literally waiting on chair edges to see if their districts are going to be able to keep them as employees, to explain what actual good the AEA did this last year to help solve the crisis. Other than insipid videos and poorly written op-eds, it’s all been blustery blow with nothing more than drips.


  1. John Wright gets a salary equal to his pay as a teacher with an additional car allowance and some nice perks. He is in his last year and will have to go back to the rez where he taught before. Another will take his place, nothing will change but the name on the letterhead.

    We need to remember,the AEA is an employee union NOT an educational organization. Their sole purpose is to serve the members, none of which are students. If they cannot create a sense of need, then why would anyone pay into their coffers. Fear and dependency is the element that fuels the treasury from which his salary and perks flow.

    That the AEA lobbies their members to insist on full release time with full pay for their local union president tells the story of their priorities. A full time teacher paid to do nothing but union business. How is that a proper use of tax payer dollars? How can they say it is to further any educational progress?

    All the rest is window dressing to emphasize their power and position, furthering the impression among the members of a reason to pay those dues.

  2. JR Snyder Jr says

    Decades ago I started out as a history and government teacher and have always had mixed feelings about turning my back on it. In a small college and a corporation with a large learning organization, I did get to enjoy a bit some of the better part of teaching: being in the classroom.

    It was easy to see public school high school teaching, as I thought of it, was already becoming extinct in the 70s. Paleolithic. Personally, I was not so hot on any of the bureaucracy and (at the time) new mumbo jumbo curriculum being forced on me and kept me doing anything but actually teaching.

    The corporate environment I worked in did have a world class learning organization but was also burdened with a union. The unionism was an impediment to constructive, creative teaching/learning in a lot of environments.

    The very idea of employee unions and public schools is antithetical to me.

  3. Diogidog says

    I say that we input dollars into education equal to the tested output results of learning. With a 68% graduation rate in Arizona, and all of the dumb responses to the recent Goldwater poll from the ‘highly educated’ kids, the taxpayers are due a refund. The administrators and teachers are worth about eight bucks and hour. Period. Dollars in equal performance and results out. End of budget discussion on education

Leave a Reply