Flagstaff speaks: Letters to the editor for the week of May. 14, 2021 | Local

Dear Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, Although we recognize the gesture of a teacher appreciation dinner, we respectfully decline the invitation. We believe that attending your dinner would put up with the AZ Chamber’s many coordinated attacks on public education over the years. You see, educators have asked the state of Arizona for adequate public education. Funding for a whole decade, and it seems the Chamber of Commerce has been there at every turn to block our efforts and work against us.

This is happening right now with our struggle to keep voter-approved Prop 208 alive with all of the legal challenges the Chamber of Commerce has posed against it. The “Invest in Ed” proposal will restore much-needed education funds to our starved public schools and accomplish what lawmakers did not do at all. As a result of the passage of Prop 208, Chamber-backed Republican lawmakers are attempting to pass SB 1783, a tax cut designed to undermine and exempt Prop 208, which would reduce the funds schools would receive by approximately $ 377 million. It is no coincidence that, at the behest of the Chamber, our state government has repeatedly granted enormous tax breaks to companies and the rich instead of requiring them to pay their fair share for the benefit of all.

In addition, a few years ago it became known that the Chamber had made it a top priority to destroy the old-age security of educators by privatizing our pensions. This would have been disastrous for financially troubled educators, and we are relieved that a bill was never revealed. We call on the Chamber of Commerce to leave our pension funds as an earned, defined benefit.

To be clear, educators will always welcome any collaboration with the business community aimed at achieving positive educational outcomes for all children of Arizona. Together we can create wonderful opportunities for the youth of the state. There are already excellent examples of this type of collaboration, including here in Flagstaff at the Festival of Science, the NAU Stem Night and the Scientists in the Classroom program.

We cannot and will not ignore the chambers’ aggression on public education funding, and we refuse to allow your organization to bask in the guise of a feel-good PR campaign like a teacher recognition dinner while consistently opposing it the interests of educators and working families works across our great state.


(Editor’s note: For a list of the nearly 200 people who signed up for this letter, see the online version.)

Danielle Portillo Morales placeholder image

Patricia Roach, retired educator

Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, Flagstaff

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