Yesterday afternoon hundreds of us gathered in front of the Arkansas Capitol with one rally cry:
Pay Arkansas teachers.
(If you’re on Twitter, it’s #PayARteachers for short.)
I heard one speaker tell a beautiful story of how one teacher’s kindness changed the trajectory of her entire family for generations. I could not hold back tears thinking about the teachers in my life who have had a similar impact.
In seventh grade there was Mrs. Crumpton, who showed me that the written word was an outlet and a medium for important change in the world.
In high school there was Ms. Seymore, who encouraged me to write from vulnerable, hard places. She told me to write what was real. I’ve been doing just that ever since.
My assistant basketball coach, Coach Ruple, was also my psychology teacher my senior year, and he’s still famous for his pep talks and card tricks. I often think about how his class would turn my day around when things were getting tough.
These educators invested in my well-being, my education, and my future. Their impact cannot be measured, and I don’t know who I would be without them.
I know I’m not alone in having stories like these— we all appreciate the teachers who made us who we are today.
Appreciation can only go so far. It’s time for compensation.
Our teachers in Arkansas are some of the lowest-paid in the region. Excellent educators are leaving the state in droves for the purpose of making a decent wage to support themselves. Their jobs have been made harder over the past few years by a pandemic, political vitriol, and pressure to “make up for lost learning.”
It’s time for change.
There is a plan ready to be enacted by the legislature. It’s sustainable, and it leaves our surplus at a still-hefty $1 billion.
As one lawmaker said, “We have a plan. We have the money. Now we just need to get the votes.”
Join me in calling, emailing, and sharing a public message that paying our teachers can’t wait until 2023— the time is now.
An investment in our teachers is an investment in our kids, and our kids are worth whatever it takes to make this happen.
I’m rooting for us.
With hope and determination,
PS- We need your help to continue this momentum and spread the message of Arkansas’s bright future. Will you take a moment to donate today? I’d be so grateful.