It is disappointing that the district has decided to sever the employment of these teachers who have dedicated their careers to educating our students and risked their health and lives to work during the pandemic. Arizona already faces a severe teacher shortage due to decades of neglect and underfunding from the state. If Governor Ducey had kept his promises to hold school districts harmless during the pandemic these RIFs could have been avoided. Instead the governor and a majority of state legislators continue to neglect our students and schools by focusing on undermining and delaying new education funding like the Invest in Education Act and enacting additional tax cuts. We risk seeing more districts faced with similar decisions as in Gilbert if lawmakers continue down this path of divesting public education in favor of tax cuts.
AEA believes any district looking to make these difficult decisions include teachers in the discussion and realize that laying off teachers is a short-sighted solution that will cause long-term problems for the community. We need to be ready to welcome our students back to our classrooms in the Fall. Our students deserve a caring and quality teacher in the classroom. RIFs will make that impossible as districts will end up scrambling to fill positions at the last minute. There are other ways to address budget shortfalls than letting go the very people we need educating our students.