Dear Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce,
Although we recognize the gesture of a Teacher Appreciation Dinner, we respectfully decline the invitation. We feel attending your dinner would be condoning the AZ Chamber’s many coordinated attacks on public education over the years. You see, educators have been pleading with the state of Arizona for adequate public education funding for an entire decade, and it seems that at every turn, the Chamber of Commerce has been there to block our efforts and work against us.
This happened just last year when the Chamber brought a legal challenge against the Invest in Ed ballot initiative, which would have restored education funding to 2008 levels. The Chamber’s legal challenge directly resulted in the proposition being blocked from the 2018 ballot, denying voters the chance to accomplish what the legislature has utterly failed to do: fund our schools. Speaking of which, it is no coincidence that our state government, at the Chamber’s behest, has continually given enormous tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy instead of requiring them to pay their fair share for the benefit of all. Then this year, it was revealed that the Chamber had made it a top priority to devastate educators’ retirement security by privatizing our pensions. This would have been catastrophic for financially struggling educators, and we are relieved that a bill was never unveiled. We demand the Chamber of Commerce leave our retirement funds as the earned, defined benefit they are.
To be clear, educators will always welcome any collaboration with the business community designed to achieve positive educational outcomes for all of Arizona’s children. Together, we can create wonderful opportunities for the youth of the state. There are already excellent examples of this type of collaborative endeavor here in Flagstaff in the Festival of Science, NAU Stem Night, and The Scientists in the Classroom program, among others.
We cannot and will not ignore the Chambers’ aggression toward public education funding, and we refuse to allow your organization to bask in the glow of a feel-good PR campaign while consistently working against the interests of educators and working families across our great state. We call on the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce to be advocates for the education of our youth and to influence the Arizona Chamber of Commerce to do the same.
Sara S. Klause NBCT
Danielle Portillo Morales
Derek Born, English teacher, CHS
Jennifer B. Baker
Angelina Castagno, Professor, NAU College of Education
Erin M Celona
James K Hasapis
Cree A. Donovan
Annie K. Crego, Retired FUSD teacher
Susan E Nobles
Christine S. Brown
Ginny L. Bowen
Karen R. Nelson
Elizabeth M Taylor