OP-ED: Matt Salmon in the Arizona Republic
Arizona teachers are better than their union
March 9, 2022
Arizona teachers deserve better than the status quo
The teachers’ union is “a scourge on our society”. That’s what I said at a recent Sun City Republican Club meeting – and I stand by it.
There are several reasons for this.
When it comes to policy, I vehemently disagree with the Arizona Education Association’s (AEA) push for virtual-only learning and its opposition to school choice and curriculum transparency.
On the subject of civility, I hate the divisive and partisan rhetoric that the AEA and its chairman, Joe Thomas, have leveled against Republican lawmakers over the years. And, on the subject of ethics, I believe that the way the AEA spends its funds raises serious questions about impropriety.
Why I have to answer Montini
But, more than anything, I called the teachers’ union a ‘scourge’ for its repeated failure to properly represent teachers.
His opposition to the 20% salary increase for teachers approved in 2018 is one of the most notable examples of the AEA’s unwillingness to put our educators first, and it has only gotten worse since. .
That’s why I feel the need to respond to a page three headline from Arizona Republic columnist EJ Montini who accuses me of “attacking our teachers” when in fact I was doing the opposite. (“What is Matt Salmon’s venomous attack on teachers?” February 22).
This important distinction – between “teachers” and “the teachers’ union” – is one you will often hear me make during the election campaign:
“I love the teachers. I don’t care much about the teachers’ union. (Yavapai County, September 7)
“Although I’m a big fan of teachers, I don’t support the teachers’ union.” (Pinal County, October 17)
“We need to hold the teachers accountable, not the teachers’ union.” (Mohave County, Jan. 17)
I am happy to give Mr Montini the benefit of the doubt that he simply misunderstood me, but we must be prepared to distinguish between the two if there is any chance of real reform.
I listened to teachers across the state
I spent months listening to educators across Arizona, and subsequently released an eight-page guidance document in November to share what I learned with constituents.
Ideas include more flexible working hours and holidays; enhanced compensation, such as merit pay and signing bonuses; interstate reciprocal licensing agreements; and certification reforms that allow schools to hire men and women who want to teach after retiring from the private sector.
Four months later, I am still the only gubernatorial candidate to have released a policy paper on this critical issue. Other candidates seeking our state’s highest office aren’t being pushed for their agenda, but I’m being attacked for explaining why I believe in teachers, oppose union leadership, and will fight for children and parents.
The bottom line is that Arizona teachers deserve better than the status quo and, more importantly, they deserve better than the teachers union. As the next governor, I intend to help them achieve this brighter future.
Matt Salmon is a former congressman and current Republican candidate for governor of Arizona.