Last week House Majority Leader John Allen (R-Scottsdale) opened his mouth and inserted his foot by insulting teachers. Teachers get second jobs to buy boats, enjoy finer things in life:
Teachers in Arizona are getting second jobs not because they’re struggling to survive on their low pay, but because they want to enjoy the finer things in life, like boats, according to House Majority Leader John Allen.
“They’re making it out as if anybody who has a second job is struggling. That’s not why many people take a second job,” Allen said. “They want to increase their lifestyles. They want to improve themselves. They want to pay for a boat. They want a bigger house. They work hard to provide themselves with a better lifestyle. Not everyone who takes a second job does it because they’re borderline poverty.”
Allen, a Scottsdale Republican, made the remark as an explanation for the controversial comments he made during a vote Tuesday on a bill to allow more people without formal teacher training to teach at K-12 schools. The bill, SB1042, passed the House and is awaiting Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature.
During the vote, Allen said the fact that some teachers have to hold a second job to make ends meet doesn’t mean lawmakers don’t care about them. Instead, it shows teachers are enterprising Americans, like many lawmakers, he said.
“Most of us in this room have a second job. Good for them,” he said, adding he likes it when people use their “God-given talents” and try to make themselves better.
“That’s America. The idea that we are somehow torturing somebody if they have a second job is just ridiculous. And (teachers) have a long summer. What a great opportunity for people like us and teachers to go out and get a second job. Let’s all get a second job this summer,” he said.
Allen’s bogus point is muted by the fact that the Arizona Legislature is a part-time citizen-legislature — they were supposed to be done and sine die two weeks ago by the way — and many of its members have other employment.
When our reporter noted that teachers, who often start with salaries in the $30,000 range, probably aren’t taking second jobs to buy boats, Allen replied that many people choose to be teachers knowing the pay situation and that they’ll have to take a second job to make ends meet.
Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association, said he doesn’t know any teachers with boats.
“I know teachers that have refinanced their mortgage. I know teachers who have lost their homes in the last 10 years. I know teachers that are sadly telling their own children not to become teachers. But I don’t know any teachers that own boats,” he said.
Thomas said teachers get second jobs to make ends meet and to pay off their student loans. Many of the finer things in life, such as boats, are often out of reach for them, even those who hold two jobs, he said.
“Rep. Allen’s statements are not only insensitive, they’re insulting. It shows he needs to spend a little more time in public schools talking to teachers,” Thomas said.
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Allen said it’s not the Legislature’s fault teachers aren’t being paid commensurate with the salaries of teachers in other states because lawmakers don’t set teacher pay, as that falls to school boards.
When our reporter noted that, while the Legislature doesn’t set teacher pay, it decides the overall education funding from which school boards draw money to pay teachers, Allen countered that legislators have repeatedly tried to get more money into classrooms, but it never seems to make it all the way there.
“We’ve tried trickle down. We’ve done [Propositions] 301, 123 and others. And none of those have made it to teacher pay, or very little of it. So you have to say, ‘School boards, you have to stop doing this,’” he said.
Allen said he supports giving schools more money for teacher pay hikes, and added that the House budget would include money for just that purpose, though he wouldn’t say how much.
Probably the “education governor” (sic) Doug Ducey’s proposed .04 percent pay increase.
Anyway, here is something you can do to let House Majority Leader John Allen know how you feel about his comments.