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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.

Sincerely,

Flagstaff Educators:

Jessica Kitterman

Neal Barnett

Sara S. Klause NBCT

Nicole Walker

Kori Morrow

Yvonne Parent

Danielle Portillo Morales

Heather Bigley

Monica Castruita

S. Londonhall

Kathryn Kozak

Donte Delia

Derek Born, English teacher, CHS

Julia Manygoats

Samantha Runger

Kevin Oelerich

Lauren Bradshaw

Vikki Tomas

Heather Duncan

Irene Tsosie

Cynthia Balot

Noah Hayes-McKeirnan

Erin McCamish

Sarah Shamah

Kristine Pavlik

Jenny Cummiskey

Amy Iniguez

Molly Lesandrini

Joan McCoy

Cam McCord

Mary Laurie

Jennifer B. Baker

Kevin Heinz

Alexa Frechette

Kaitlin Stellwagen

Adrah Parafiniuk

Sheila White

Todd Schipper

Diann Snodgrass

Angelina Castagno, Professor, NAU College of Education

Kellen Brandel

Erin M Celona

James K Hasapis

Patricia Roach

Cree A. Donovan

Leslie Mitchell

Walter Halaberda

Annie K. Crego, Retired FUSD teacher

Maureen Knowles-Short

Stephanie Galloway

Lou Blazquez

Susan Holiday

Dian Squire

Lisa Ganey

Susan E Nobles

Jennifer Askew

Karen Knappenberger

Neil Ross

Jeremy Schroeder

Michelle Tanner

Patti Pastor

Jacob Louchart

Aerie Wolfe

Bill Packard

Sue Strobel

Ruth Donnelly

Peggy Sheldon-Scurlock

Lee Irby

Anamaria Ortiz

Nancy Evans

Erin Hiebert

Erik Sather

George Moate

Kim Helwig

Mark Pitcher

Danielle Morales

Kevin Heinz

Gretchen Younghans

Lindsey Hillyard

Catherine Malone

Christine S. Brown

Ginny L. Bowen

LiAnne Brant

Lora Mattke

Matt Nichols

Mitch Askew

Rachel Merriman

Stacy Wheeler

Sarah Flores

Ashley Esparza

Karen R. Nelson

Cele Rodriguez

Elizabeth M Taylor

James Connell

Jillian Hernandez

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To see the list of nearly 100 teachers who signed on to this letter, see azdailysun.com.

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