An open letter to the Scottsdale Unified School District

Education should focus on the students and teachers.

It is that simple. But, last week, the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), in the +City of Scottsdale (Official), asked teachers to vote for a proposed rate cut in a manner that disgustingly resembles that of +The Hunger Games. It is unfortunate that time and time again, the SUSD has disregarded the factors that make education great.

According to the teachers, the SUSD gave them two choices:
  1. Keep the bonuses and pay at the current level, but cut a number of teachers. 
  2. Lower the bonuses and pay from the current level and make no cuts. 
That is pitting teacher against teacher. Why should one employee's contract affect another's? One person's job should not be tied to that of another. That is completely unethical.

To make matters worse, the SUSD decided to circumvent employer-union processes, among others, and skip directly to asking the teachers. While I hold my own opinions regarding labor unions, processes are in place for a reason. The SUSD should understand that and adhere to those specific policies, especially when they have so many abnormal, arduous and special policies and processes of their own that they force students and teachers to follow.

The superintendent, in his speech to the staff, even likened this situation with that of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the recent Boston Marathon bombings, in the sense that it was a community "coming together." Not only is the situation completely unlike either of the examples, but it is an exaggeration of the situation that tries to capture emotion and use it to manipulate people.

Teachers abstained from voting, as they should. Of the 1,570 teachers in the SUSD, only 884 cast their votes. The District needed 70% (or 1,110 votes) of all teachers to approve option 2 to proceed with their proposal.

And that has led to headlines such as's "Scottsdale teachers won't give up Prop 301 funds to save jobs." It is sad that at the low pay our teachers already receive, and the immoral procedure SUSD chose to use in this instance, as in many others, the AZCentral and other media continue to choose to characterize teachers as greedy.

The article makes no mention of the unethical treatment and method the District went about the process and the long history of irresponsible spending that characterizes and plagues my District.
Last week, teachers protested before and after school on the issue.
Teachers emphasize that they would be willing to take a reduction in their paychecks so as to help save other teachers, who are also their friends. It is not about that -- it is a bigger fight. What they are unwilling to do is be treated like subjects, without respect, time and time again, and asked to determine the fate of others based on the fate of their own. They are unwilling to continue seeing the District ruin education and the future. They want to take a stance against things they see as unethical and irresponsible on the part of the District.

Well, I do too.

I am sad to say this, but, even as a senior who will not be coming back next year, I am sick and tired of the SUSD's gross practices to make cuts that hurt students and teachers, while District officials carelessly and inappropriately waste money and give lame excuses portraying their solutions as the only practical methods.

I have protested SUSD's poor judgement and management in the past, as have many students and teachers. In the past couple years, they have changed start times, modified bus schedules, cut important school programs, packed more students into classrooms, axed teachers and more.

We understand that it is a tough economy. But almost every cut has negatively affected the classroom experience in some way, shape or form, while administrators and management continue to gain more benefits yearly that stress the budget.

Every year, the budget is of discussion. Every year, we cannot meet the budget. Every year, the District asks for more and more cuts.

It is time they fix their own problems for the long-term and come up with a viable solution. Top District officials do not need rental cars to drive to the office. Classrooms do not need technology that students and teachers do not use (though the District claims it is entering the 21st Century... with SmartBoards). The District does not need to purchase things that are not necessary, such as Microsoft Office 365, which is not even offered to either students or teachers; it is just there.

Students, teachers and parents should not have to fight to make sure the District keeps both students and teachers a priority. Teachers should not have to spend time fighting for ethical treatment, especially after a day of teaching. Great education should be the focus of the District -- the best teachers teaching the best content in the best environment to produce the best students.

The District clearly does not have the community's interest in mind, and many times makes decisions that it feels are best without asking for the community's opinions, and it is a shame to see one of Arizona's finest school districts go down this path, just like many others across the nation.

Voice your opinion. Tell the SUSD to put students and teachers first: Stand with us and tell SUSD that enough is enough.
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