Opinion: Mary Lou Fulton students can promote reform by seeking work in Arizona

The Red for Ed campaign is a great way for students to better Arizona's public education system

In 2017, Arizona was ranked the worst state for teachers by WalletHub. 

This ranking isn't anything new. For decades, Arizona has consistently ranked in the bottom in the country for education funding and quality of education. In addition, there are only three states that spend less per student than Arizona does: Indiana, Utah and Ohio.

Recently, Arizona educators have been rallying and demonstrating, demanding that the government allocate more money for the students and schools of the state.

The Red for Ed campaign has spearheaded the movement to increase teachers' salaries, with hopes to keep quality educators in Arizona. Specifically, Red for Ed supporters are demanding a 20 percent salary increase, restoration of funds from before the 2008 recession, competitive pay for all education support staff, a fixed salary with annual raises and no additional tax cuts.

Students and faculty of ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College should play an active role in the Red for Ed campaign to show the state government that both current and future educators support increased funds for education in Arizona. 

Current and aspiring teachers should stay in Arizona to improve the education system and provide opportunities for students in the public education system. However, in order for this to happen, the government must provide adequate wages for educators. 

"As a university and teachers college, it’s very important for great educators to stay in Arizona," said Carole Basile, dean and professor at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. "Schools need more money, of course. But they also need new models that work for 21st-century learners."

Educators and others in communities throughout the state have been very active in the Red for Ed campaign. There are weekly walk-ins on Wednesdays where participants wear red to demonstrate their support. 

ASU's education students should actively participate in events such as the walk-ins to show that this cause will not go away until it has been addressed sufficiently. 

Education is one of the most important factors when building a strong community. Without quality primary and secondary educators in the state, Arizona students might have a more difficult time competing with out-of-state students upon high school graduation.

"We are graduating 61 members of the Arizona Teachers Academy who have committed to teach in Arizona high-need schools, but we also think long-term solutions in education will involve broadening the aperture beyond compensation," Basile said.

While it is important that ASU provides a solid degree program for education majors, it is equally important that students stay in the state to work so they can be a part of the change.

When asked how to encourage students to stay, Basile said, "teachers will have to play a leadership role in figuring that out."

The quality of a state's education program doesn't just affect students, but it also has lasting implications on the community.

It is also important to note that there is consistently more being asked of educators. They are often expected to act similar to parents, counselors and advisors, and the conversation of gun-control could potentially bring on another responsibility.

According to Basile, the Arizona State Board of Education requires teachers to master dozens of competencies. 

"We ask teachers to be all things to all people at all times," Basile said.

If students join forces with current educators and advocate for a stronger future for education in the state, real progress could be made and the benefits will impact generations for years to come.

Current Mary Lou Fulton students have the ability to lead the movement to improve Arizona schools, and they can have a direct impact by actively and passionately seeking work here.


Reach the columnist at adunn11@asu.edu or follow @adrienne_dunn on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 500 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.