Correction — Last week I incorrectly identified letter writer Robert Cozad as a founder of the Oro Valley Democratic Club. He wasn't. My apologies to Mr. Cozad and Oro Valley Democrats.
However, in pointing this out, letter writer Mike Dayton again repeated the ludicrous charge that the GOP legislature has passed a bill that specifically denies school teachers the right to lobby their state legislature.
What garbage. The bill — it appears to be SB-1186 but they never specify — does no such thing. It does penalize school teachers who take off from their teaching duties on district time, not their own personal time, to lobby the legislature causing the need for a paid substitute. Simple rule — politic on your own dime. You have a constitutional right to free speech and assembly. You have no constitutional right for your employer to pay you while assembling. That's the American way.
Some school districts have abused their powers by sending school teachers to Phoenix to participate in rallies designed to influence legislation. There is one local school district where a school board member also serves as a Democrat member of the State Senate, giving her certain perks like taxpayer-funded cheering sections at public hearings.
I wondered why Democrats raised this obscure and off the wall issue until I observed that the bill's principal thrust changed the method used to issue teacher lay-off notices. Many school districts had asked the legislature to eliminate the arbitrary April 15 date for determining what employees could be laid off, which always occurs before final budgets and causes much unneeded consternation and angst. Republicans complied and starting next year, the school districts will be allowed to set their own lay-off dates.
It could've been this year, but Democrats decided not to give the measure enough votes to invoke an emergency clause. They apparently like all that teacher and school employee consternation and angst because they want to keep maintaining that Republicans hate teachers, children, and all forms of education in general. Problem was they needed a cover story, and found it in the provision about teacher lobbying. For those lacking political education, that's known as a "red herring."
I ran this scenario by a colleague at another local paper. As a good — and self-admitted — agenda journalist, his immediate reaction was "why should the Democrats help the Republicans pass it?" That kind of tells you the whole story. How about because it benefits schools and teachers? How about because it was the right thing to do? Nahhh.
Let's try this. If the lobbying provision is the blatant violation of constitutional rights as claimed, there are several appropriate remedies beyond loudly belching over it.
1. Teacher's unions have legal staffs. They should prepare to go to court immediately for what should be, if it's what they claim, a slam dunk case. Likewise certain school boards also have legal staff and can get into the act.
2. The ACLU should be totally unglued by now and able to follow through with similar legal action.
3. There's a Democrat attorney general in Arizona wanting higher office. A pro-union Democrat legislator could immediately seek an opinion concerning what should be an obvious constitutional violation. The AG could then pursue the matter further.
None of that will happen because the accusation is pure bull designed to cover the Democrat party hacks who opposed changing the teacher lay-off provision for what they believed was political gain.
Once again, Democrats and their union component have sacrificed the good of teachers and public education to gain the only thing they really care about — raw political power. For shame.