Representative David Stringer is on a roll this week.
First, the Republican from Prescott made the dubious claim that faculty advisers for high school newspapers were out to "propagandize their own liberal views through what purport to be student publications."
Then, Thursday, at the monthly Arizona Business and Education Coalition luncheon at the Capitol, Stringer took it a step further by insulting all teachers.
According to Representative Jesus Rubalcava, Stringer told the group that teaching doesn't require a specific skill set. He then allegedly went on to say that teachers aren't paid badly considering that they have easy part-time jobs with with two months off in the summer.
A recent survey by Education Week showed that Arizona teachers have the fifth lowest pay in the country, earning an average salary of $43,800 a year.
"People wake up!!" Rubalcava — who works as a special education teacher at Bales Elementary School — wrote on Facebook. "He's an elected official serving on the education committee!"
New Times reached out to Stringer to see if he wanted to clarify his remarks or disagree with Rubalcava's characterization of what he said. (It's worth noting that while the luncheon wasn't taped or recorded, other educators who were present have confirmed Rubalcava's version of events. ) He finally responded. Update is below.
It's understandable that it took so long for him to get back to us. It seems safe to say that Stringer was inundated with angry phone calls. Progress Now Arizona has asked teachers to call his office and "tell him your job isn't easy or part time."
And judging by the look of Stringer's Facebook page, he's been hearing from a lot of people.
Here's a sampling of the response:
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Update: New Times has received an e-mail response from Rep. David Stringer, who writes, “My comment was that education is typically a much less rigorous course of study than engineering and many other disciplines. I don't know of any other profession besides teaching that offers a 180-day work year and so many paid holidays. A lot of people go into teaching for just that reason. But that doesn't mean teachers have an ‘easy job.’ I don't think I put it quite that way. Most teachers are dedicated professionals who work hard for their students.”
Stringer adds that he’s currently working on a graduate degree in education at ASU — a degree which he doesn’t seem to think has a lot of value.
“I did say that half of all Ph. D.'s awarded annually in the US are in education and that they are easier to get,” he writes. “There are a lot of diploma mills out there. My point was that the academic rigor of a Ph. D. in education is not the same as a Ph. D. in physics or biochemistry. The marketplace values these disciplines differently.”