My name is Matthew Unsworth and I am a social studies teacher in the Glendale Union High School District. I wanted to share my correspondence with my district representatives, Sen. Rick Gray and Rep. Kevin Payne from this past week during the teacher walk-out. These men represent Legislative District 21 and both have said they would not support all of the Arizona Education Association’s goals for Arizona education. Both men claim to want to move Arizona’s education system from the bottom 20 percent to the top, but seem unwilling to make decisions or support legislation that would move us in this direction. Payne said, “From 1976 to 1989, I made less than $500 net per week. My kids were not on free or reduced lunch.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $500 a week in 1980 had the same buying power as $1,600 today. I can see why nearly three decades ago, your children were not on free or reduced lunch and that you required neither food stamps nor welfare — you were comfortably well off. It is unfortunate you are unwilling to give teachers the same spending power you enjoyed 30 years ago and that you are out of touch with how little educators make today.