Editor's note: This is an open letter to John Huppenthal, Arizona's superintendent of public instruction.
I sent the following message to your office one month ago and have yet to receive a reply.
After speaking with — in succession — my department chair, the school administrator assigned to assess my performance, and administration in our district office, I have been referred to contact you. I am currently in my fifth year of teaching at Basha High School in Chandler.
I love Basha; I love my students and co-workers, and I am even more passionate now about teaching history then I was when I was first hired in 2008. At the time that I was hired the district’s original salary schedule was still in place, with the promise of increased compensation according to experience in the profession and professional growth.
I was fresh out of Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree and, with a belief in the importance of improving my abilities as a teacher, I signed up for a master’s cohort with the district. I earned my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Northern Arizona University in 2010.
Though I am not a perfect educator by any means, I have consistently worked, from day one on the job, to help students make connections to the past and understand their responsibilities and opportunities as future citizens of our nation and state.
I have also made an effort to learn from my co-workers, gleaning successful classroom activities and professional behaviors that I strive to implement in my classroom.
As a result of my hard work, though I am young in the profession, I was entrusted by our department chair and administration with teaching advanced placement world history in only my second year in the profession, and I have been teaching AP world history ever since to our freshmen at Basha, helping to build the reputation of the course which was first offered the year that I was hired.
Over the past four years the number of students taking the AP world history test — and the scores they have earned — have increased each year. I also serve as the freshman, junior varsity, and varsity girls tennis coach here at Basha and have worked in that capacity since 2009.
I am also a participant in career ladder and have moved my way up the ladder throughout my teaching career. As a personal side note, shortly following my hiring, my wife and I purchased a home and welcomed our first son to our family in 2009. In 2011 our second son was born.
I apologize for the length of the prologue to the central question of this e-mail, but, as I am seeking a definitive and clear answer, I thought it best to share some of my background in order to emphasize the earnestness of my question.
My question is this: When, if ever, will I be fully compensated for my professional growth and gained experience in the profession?
I understand that, with the economic recession and state political climate in general, and the recent failure of the budget override and prop 204 more specifically, salaries have been virtually frozen with the exception of a 1 or 2 percent increase here and there. Is there any hope that I can give to my wife that we will see a more significant increase in my pay (as the primary provider for our household)?
A further prompting for my question is the fact that I was hired at the same time as two of my esteemed colleagues who, at the time of our hiring, both had already earned their master’s degrees and, consequently, their initial salaries were several thousand dollars greater than mine.
As previously stated, I have since earned my master’s degree and I have the same exact amount of experience in the district as they do, yet they continue to make significantly more money than I do.
I do not state this out of jealousy or envy; I believe that they deserve every penny they are paid. However, you can understand my family’s frustration, especially when my salary stagnation has been coupled with increased health insurance costs specifically and the rise in the cost of living in general. Any insight you could provide for me and my family would be much appreciated. Thank you.