Education advocates share what they hope to see from lawmakers during the new legislative session

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We continue our look at what advocates for various issues want and expect from state lawmakers this upcoming session. Yesterday, we heard from business leaders. Today the focus is education. Our guests: Joe Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association and Chris Kotterman, Director of Governmental Relations for the Arizona School Boards Association.

Thomas responded to the governor’s new plan for parents where they get the option of instruction, if a school “closes its doors.”

“The first thing you react to as an educator is the idea that we are ‘closing our doors’, schools were never closed, we worked as much as we could, as safely as we could, we learned a lot about technology, about ourselves, our profession, and our students but it’s yet another misguided attempt that the governor to prop up policies that the state just doesn’t support,” Thomas said.

He added that the state wants to see funding in their public schools and they have a goal of continuing in-person instruction but it’s important as a community to have proper mitigation efforts accessible to the schools.

“I think it is interesting that yesterday [the governor] was saying he wants schools open and we know how to do that safely and I think that we do know how to do that safely, the problem is that we’ve only really gotten some support on one half of that and that’s the ‘open’ part,” Kotterman said.

Kotterman noted that he’s seen efforts by the legislature and by the governor’s office “to curtail the ability of school districts governing boards to make the decisions that we think are necessary to keep students in school safe because I agree with Joe that is the goal.”

Thomas said he wants the legislature to keep in mind that this may not be the year to try brand new initiatives and instead focus on having safe schools and being responsive to parents and working inside the community.

Joe Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association
Chris Kotterman, Director of Governmental Relations for the Arizona School Board Association

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