Dave Hodges

More About: Education: Government Schools

Meet the New Animal House: Arizona’s Republican Legislators

 

Who can forget John Belushi’s now famous question, in the classic movie Animal House, when he was attempting to rally his fellow fraternity members to keep the Dean from shutting down their frat house for it nefarious activities? “Did America give up when the German’s bombed Pearl Harbor?” Why did most of us think that was funny? The simple answer is because we were educated to know better courtesy of our former teachers. Those that failed to see the humor in Belushi’s now classic and humorous question are now masquerading as republican statesmen in the Arizona Legislature.  

Changes made to the statutes, with regard the Arizona Legislature’s House Bill 2011, have brought devastating and  sweeping changes to state teacher contracts (e.g., removing seniority, salary and contract guarantees). Effectively, every teacher in Arizona now operates without a contract. Teacher pay can be arbitrarily reduced at any time. Your child’s teacher can be fired for any reason, or for no reason. How can this be good for our children and their education?
 
Under the new mandate, school districts will be prohibited from using tenure or seniority as a factor in determining which teachers can be laid off. Additionally, school districts no longer have to honor seniority when they rehire following reduction in force layoffs due to lack of money or decline in the student population.

The Legislature placed the April 15th deadline, that required school districts to notify teachers of their contract status for the following school year, is now in the rear view mirror. A teacher can simply be fired the day before classes are to commence. In fact, a teacher can be terminated at anytime, for any reason, or for no reason.

These draconian changes to teacher contracts was signed into law September 4th by Gov. Jan Brewer and too effect on November 24th.

 “Rep. Rich Crandall (R), chairman of the House Education Committee, said the changes had bipartisan support. The changes remove seniority as a factor in determining retention and rehiring but do not replace it, giving districts local control. Crandall said he believes districts should devise systems of tying teacher salaries to student achievement.

"The bottom line is teachers need to be retained based on their achievement, not on how long they've been at a job," said Crandall, R-Mesa (http://www.azcentral.com/12news/news/articles/2009/11/23/20091123edcontracts1123-CP.html).”

Sounds nice, but most teachers will tell you that their performance in the classroom will not be the deciding criteria on whether most teachers keep their jobs. Simply put, Rich Crandall is a typical politician that you know is lying because his lips are moving. This measure did not, and does not have bipartisan support as not one democrat voted for this travesty.

In reality, this statutory product of the Arizona republican party has three visible purposes:

(1)    To break the back of the teachers union for being a thorn in the side of the legislature during the recent budget fiasco brought on by Napolitano's reckless spending. The Legislature, seeking to balance its budget did not look to make cuts on their sacred cows (e.g., government sponsored corporate welfare recipients which was clearly designed to ensure that the campaign donations keep rolling into the legislative re-election campaigns from grateful corporate recipients). No, this law seeks to enact revenge against teachers and their union for collectively speaking up against the drastic and institutionally crushing budget reductions levied by legislative republicans against Arizona’s most vulnerable victims, its school children. Crandall and his cronies are saying to teachers and to any other public employee, “How dare you question what we do as a legislative body?).

(2)    To enable districts to fire teachers, without cause, and to replace them with much younger and much cheaper workers. The state republicans seem to be saying to the parents of our children: “Any warm teaching body will do so long as it a young and inexpensive body which does not require much compensation). Arizona is currently 51st in the nation in spending for education. “Look out Puerto Rico here we come” as Arizona is behind every state as well as Washington DC). We have the distinction of having the most punitive policies towards teachers in the nation. If a teacher is willing to leave Arizona they can make more money, have better job security, and better working conditions. How can this be good for our children?

(3)    This law invites a practice well known to the state republicans by inviting further nepotism. Now this nepotism will invade our schools with the force of corruption which invaded New York City during the Boss Tweed era. Because of the state republicans, an administrator, district or building, can fire a competent teacher and replace them with a friend, political ally or family member. Teachers can be fired for political activity, expressed or suspected political beliefs, religious beliefs, or even ethnicity because no justification has to be offered to remove a teacher. A teacher can be fired for being too old and be making too much money. All that a district has to do to successfully engage in these illegal behaviors is to issue a pink slip without a reason. This law erases any semblance of academic freedom and tenure. Much wiser politicians previously enacted tenure and academic freedom to protect against these corrupt practices. Now Crandall and his short-sighted republican colleagues have ensured that many competent and future teachers will seek to apply their trade in another state which does enact revenge on its teachers for daring to defend it most previous resource, the children.  

Every teacher and every parent, in Arizona, should ban together, pool their resources and get this amoral politician, Rep. Crandall, removed from office. Following a Crandall recall, in November 2010, Crandall’s republican colleague’s should be turned out as well. If there is no tenure for teachers, then there should be no tenure for the decimators of Arizona’s teaching profession.

As if it means anything anymore, the republican’s actions levied against the teachers are unconstitutional because the Arizona Constitution prohibits nonmonetary issues from being in the state budget. Further, nonmonetary issues are forbidden to be mixed with policy issues (i.e., teacher tenure). Another detail that is left out in this story is that the state constitution forbids non money issues from being in the state budget. This is NOT a money issue, it is a policy issue! Then why is it in the budget? Answer: Because the republicans did not read the constitution that they swore to uphold and most still apparently believe that the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor and that any warm, young, cheap and inexperienced teacher can convey that teaching lesson to their students!

In yet another case of yellow journalism, the Arizona Republic is unwilling to tell the entire story. Now, Arizona is 51st in spending for education (i.e., Arizona is behind every state and Washington DC courtesy of the Belushi advocates of American History) and Arizona has the most punitive policies towards teachers. If a teacher is willing to leave Arizona, they can make more money, have better job security, and enjoy far better working conditions.

Ask yourself, how does Arizona retain quality teachers over the age of 40 in this kind of environment? How will your children compete in a global economy with an educational system filled with nepotism, favoritism and authoritarianism which will clearly undermine its most experienced teachers? How does Arizona attract and retain its best teachers? The simple answer is that has not been able to for a long time. Arizona’s education just took its final leap off of the proverbial cliff.

It is baffling why Arizona’s teachers would not engage in a walk out in order to call attention to this travesty. It is even more baffling why Arizona’s parents are leading the way. When Johnny cannot read, or he comes home in tears because his favorite teacher was let go to hire the nephew of a school board member, don’t blame Crandall and his anti-education republicans, parents should blame their own inaction by failing to enact the same level of revenge on these child abusers that was enacted our children’s educators.

9 Comments in Response to

Comment by Walyn Osgooder
Entered on:

If elected to the state Senate, Rich Crandall will single handedly bankrupt our state. I cannot support such hypocrisy.

Comment by AZ 1st
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… and Mr. Crandall just pocketed $30 large from the Liberal fundraiser earlier this week. Who is this guy, and who does he think he is joining forces with RINOs and Democrats to raise 1/4 million dollars for liberals and socialists? How does Rich “Big Money” Crandall sleep at night? Has he no morals? Why did he miss over 66% of his votes in the House last year? Why is he lining up for Obama’s Race-to-the-top funds so the FEDs can dictate to us what our children are taught? Why Mr. Crandall do you want to represent a district who opposes everything liberal about you? Is it so you can make millions more off the backs of the struggling tax payers? While you set in the security of your multi-million dollar house with your multi-million dollar bank accounts, the rest of us in District 19 are struggling to feed our families. 2 parent incomes are no longer enough to support the family, all the while you keep running up taxes, missing or walking out on crucial house votes, fundraising with democrats, taking up residency in NY State to secure more FAT CAT contracts for you business, and refusing to answer to your constituency! Your hypocrisy runneth over. Rich Crandall your day of judgment is coming August 24th, I only pray the rest of us wake up before it’s too late.

Comment by Farmer John
Entered on:

Appears Rich Crandall has gone missing AGAIN!

http://www.boxfont.com/rich-crandall/

Comment by Freed Radical
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Get government out of education. Abolish seniority, tenure, and the teachers' unions. Those of us in the productive class who run businesses have no guaranteed lifetime jobs or benefits. What makes you so special? I'm glad to see some of the economic pain being spread around to the government sector parasites who caused the bloated budgets of years past. Educating one's children is simply one of many PARENTAL responsibilities. If the parents can't do the job themselves for whatever reason, they should hire a teacher or enroll them in a private or religious school at their own expense. You socialist educrats can never have too much taxpayer money, to listen to you tell it. But I'm sure you would prefer to raise taxes in a recession versus taking a pay cut like the rest of us must when business is bad. Eric New

Comment by Freed Radical
Entered on:

Get government out of education. Abolish seniority, tenure, and the teachers' unions. Those of us in the productive class who run businesses have no guaranteed lifetime jobs or benefits. What makes you so special? I'm glad to see some of the economic pain being spread around to the government sector parasites who caused the bloated budgets of years past. Educating one's children is simply one of many PARENTAL responsibilities. If the parents can't do the job themselves for whatever reason, they should hire a teacher or enroll them in a private or religious school at their own expense. You socialist educrats can never have too much taxpayer money, to listen to you tell it. But I'm sure you would prefer to raise taxes in a recession versus taking a pay cut like the rest of us must when business is bad. Eric New

Comment by Deb Fitzgerald
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As an educator impacted by the recent statute changes I applaud Dave for speaking out on how wrong they are. I have been a teacher for 16 years, have always had excellent evaluations, and l am passionate about what I do. And yet, I am in jeopardy of losing my job because I am older (57) and have been around long enough to make a "decent" salary, although I still live paycheck to paycheck. I live in a modest home and certainly do not spend willy nilly. I am appalled by the comments to date in response to Dave's comments and I guess that is why we have the legislative body we do and why we are ranked 51st in the nation on per pupil spending! Anyone who thinks education can continue to take funding hits and still do a quality job educating our children has no clue about the issue! I spend approximately $1500.00 out my pocket every year on my students. I do it because I want to supplement and enhance their learning experience. I also spend hours preparing lessons to make sure my students get my best each and every day. I spend, on the average, 12 hours a day on my job and at least one weekend day of approximately 6-8 hours. I also reflect and plan much of the summer to improve my skills for the next year. I am dedicated to my students and have been a loyal employee. I resent those who dare to judge and generalize about teachers. Sure there are some bad apples in the barrel, but if administration would do their job and get rid of them, they wouldn't be there. It isn't right to take away my tenure and seniority because administration doesn't want to" jump through the hoops" to remove teachers who should no longer be teaching! Obviously those who think it is all about test scores know nothing about children. Our children are precious individuals, not products that are produced on a conveyor belt in some factory and whose quality control rests on some scale! I have no problem being held accountable for my students learning, but what I do resent is the audacity of those who make the policy choosing the instrument to which I am held accountable. Especially when they know nothing about assessment. I am currently being held accountable to an instrument that is screening tool, not even a bona fide testing instrument, designed to accurately measure the learning that has taken place. Yes, education and educators in Arizona are in crisis. But it has nothing to do with the performance of the children and the teachers! There is a lot more to it and all the stakeholders share responsibility. It's time you who know nothing about the educational process get educated about it before criticizing it and its time we elect new legislators! While I am a registered Republican our current policymakers DO NOT represent my values!

Comment by Freed Radical
Entered on:

 

Spare me the socialist whining, Hodges. Government indoctrination camps should be abolished. Those who choose to have kids should pay to educate them if they can't do it themselves. Eric New
Comment by Found Zero
Entered on:

Dave, you've been consitant in calling for more public funds for education. Please explain why we should pay more for failure? Why support the state-mandated "curriculum" and intrustion into our own parenting? And why decry financial flexibility in a state which is literally broke.

That's right, broke, busted flat. We're trying to literally pawn our state legislative offices. Per-capita, WE'RE EVEN WORSE OFF THAN CALIFORNIANS, a fact which should deeply shame us. To call for increased or continuing budgets for any state institution is simply running up unfunded public debt which it just so happens is, ah, how so we say this delicately? It's kind of illegal under our state constitution. In other words against the law. In other words it's a crime.

Comment by Judy Murphy
Entered on:

Gee, maybe we will actually have a system where the teachers actually have to teach.  Having lived in other states and having a child with special needs I can tell you this - this state and its teachers and the system leave a lot to be desired.  There is a reason we live in one of the lowest ranking states in terms of education - and it has NOTHING to do with the amount of money spent on the education system. 

Just because someone has been a teacher for 20 years does not mean that they should be a teacher for another 10.  Why exactly should being a teacher be any different than any other job - I have worked in the legal field for 15 years.  I can be terminated at any time.  I don't have a contract guaranteeing me a job for the year.  You make it sound like administrators are just going to go in and start hacking teacher's jobs the day school starts.  Seems a little far fetched to me.

Maybe, just maybe, this will begin to bring about the changes in the education system that need to happen.  They are called growing pains for a reason. . . .


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