Doug Ducey and The Flood

The past week

This past week, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey visited my school for his annual education tour of Arizona schools. The weeks prior to his visit, the school was buzzing with preparations. We had a select few classes and students to make glorious presentations for the governor – and it was a very exciting, yet stressful time for all teachers and administrators.Doug_Ducey_by_Gage_Skidmore_10

Needless to say, the visit was warm and welcoming and best of all, the students behaved and the governor was impressed.

[Insert silence here. Maybe a round of applause or quiet clapping].

Doug Ducey visited my journalism class. It was a topsy turvy effort that molded into a “mock press conference.” We had planned to ask the governor some poignant questions about Freedom of the Press for high school journalism students because last year the Arizona legislation markedly indicated that high school reporters did not have the same right as professional journalists. Other issues they wanted to know is why did he cut the education budget and pour more money into the prisons. My students did their homework.

Unfortunately, when the questions were sent to his office, they were changed or altogether replaced with “cute questions about what he does for fun, and his plans for the Teacher Academy to recruit more people in the STEM areas (and for those of you who think that STEM is the part of the apple or cherry…no…it stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). Since our school is a STEM school, this question was relatable.

My students wanted to know why their teachers are not getting paid equally as other teachers in the nation.

But, we were quashed. We were silenced.

My students shined and smiled, and even had Ducey do some selfies with them, after all, they are teenagers. He was impressed with my group because we abided by the rules of the Ducey team. This wasn’t the time or place to get into controversial conversations, I get it, and they did too.

But to add to my chagrin about impressing him, our school became a beautiful sanctuary! The rain-stained ceiling tiles were replaced – the walls were painted and beautifully decorated with awesome positive quotes. Banners were hung with the various accomplishments of the school, and I walked into a place that was the beginning of something great! I’m not complaining about the beautification of the school…no…but it took a person who came into the governor’s office and placed Arizona’s state of education last on his list in order for us to make the school look better!

Not only that but for the past seven years, the road next to the school was pocked with potholes! Driving down that road every morning and afternoon was disastrous for tires and shocks on your car; however, weeks before the governor’s visit, the road was razed and paved to a smooth path! Some former graduates who dropped off their younger siblings mocked “Oh, now that I’ve graduated they paved the road – after all the damage it did to my car!”

Everyone can say what they want, but it was all for the governor. Everything we did was to show the governor that we are doing well despite his budget cuts. Although we are hurting on the inside, although teachers are struggling to make ends meet (or maybe that’s my personal issue), we showed the governor that he can continue to cut the budget because we’re surviving.

Arizona is ranked 43rd in education and 49th in education funding.

I will repeat the statement.

Arizona is ranked 43rd in education and 49th in education funding.

As we all know there are 50 states in this great country of ours.

My school is a charter school – a school of choice. Therefore, compared to a district school, the funding is lower per pupil. My principal said, in passing, that we lost about $300,000.00 this year due to cuts in the budget.

Now, I’m quoting from other sources, but Ducey is proud and repeats the top 10 best schools in the nation includes 3 schools in Arizona. That’s great, but those three schools are from the Basis Charter school system – the same Basis that now has a school in China.

When Ducey addressed the journalism students, he touted about how he helped regain the money (Proposition 123) to help increase teacher salaries.

I’m still struggling.

He is also proud of convincing other states to follow him in providing a high-stakes Civics Test for high school students. But, the quality of education is still poor, despite the wonderful efforts of my many colleagues in education. We have the passion to get our students to a level of understanding the world even if it spits in your face; wipe it off and keep fighting, is what I say.

So, in the end, Ducey was highly impressed with our students – and I am happy about that. I’m glad we made a great impression on him, and I hope that when he goes to sleep at night, he will dream about their little faces and presentations, and he’ll wake up one day and say, “I need to help our education system. They need more money!”

[Rolling my eyes].

The next day after his visit, Trump arrived in Phoenix. He held a rally and alluded to pardoning former Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio. After he left Phoenix, he made good on his promise, of course. Saturday Night Live created a parody of the rally in Phoenix, including the African-American man who held a sign that read “Blacks for Trump.”

Really?

And, the most catastrophic event that happened in this country is Hurricane Harvey that struck most of Texas, and it is still occurring.

The flood waters are billowing as the rain continues to pour. Since my parents came from Houston, Texas, most of the Watson family still resides there, and I am concerned. Thank God prior to the publishing of this blog, they’ve all sent a sign that they’re OK.

Ducey and the flood. It doesn’t really relate, but in my mind…it kind of does.

 

Author: L.S. Watson

Hi. My name is L.S. Watson, and I'm an English teacher at a charter high school. I enjoy traveling (my favorite places are Rome and Paris), writing poetry, and watching documentaries. I have a lovable yet stubborn Yorkie-Poo named Chuy.

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