March and April have been two extreme months of highs and lows. I'm glad the month is over, but not without great cost.
During these past 2 weeks, Arizona teachers have walked out in the thousands to speak up for students, teachers, support staff and school funding. These are difficult times for many people. With 150,000 teachers walking out of the classroom, most schools have shut down across the state. It is a historical moment.
Some districts fully supported their teachers while other districts pretended to wear the red shirt. But when push came to shove, they were forced into making decisions they were not ready to make. Some districts even threatened their teachers! And yes, I joined the thousands of teachers, students, and parents and walked to the capital. And during that time, I also did our yearly fund raising campaign for Tucson Audubon's Birdathon AND guiding! Yeah, it was crazy switching from one thing to another. There are too many stories to be told and I cannot share it all in one post.
Currently we wait for the Governor's announcement for how he will fix this educational financial crisis. If it goes south tonight, I don't know what will happen. I'm hoping it ends soon because I need to be in the classroom with my students! Arizona ranks 49 in educational funding and falls way below the national average for teacher pay and student funding. I can tell you that it has gotten worse. It's hard to find anyone who wants to teach anymore in this state. Most of my friends have left the profession for better paying jobs. Who will teach our kids if we can't find qualified people? Oh and there are many shades of red to Arizona education, but I don't want to bore you anymore than I already have.
As the weekend approached, I eagerly looked forward to meeting up with Steve and Kathy to help them find some amazing birds that they can brag about back home when they finish up their vacation here. And it was an intensely fun weekend chasing crazy birds like the Sinaloa Wren, Rufous-backed Robins and Rose-throated Becards.
We found the Sinaloa Wren skulking in the shadows along the stream of a SECOND nest! Apparently the male builds more than one nest to attract a female.
We were lucky and found all three species but it took time and some hiking to get to them in the extreme Arizona heat.
Together we found amazing birds like the Hermit Warbler above and the.....
......western subspecies of the Warbling Vireo.....
.....a cool looking Abert's Squirrel......
......gorgeous views of the Black-headed Grosbeak......
......and amazing views of the often secretive Spotted Towhee.......
.....and finally seeing the beautiful blues of the Steller's Jays who happened to be mimicking hawk calls while we were there. Then it was over.
And we were back in the 100 degree temps fighting for public education.
Life is always interesting. And it has been a roller coaster for me. We manage our finances well but these past days have put us to the test. It's hard not to think about things. Do I sign my contract or walk away from the job? If I don't sign my contract, I'm done. The angry side says walk away, but the rational part of me says stay and fight the good fight.
Our birdathon was only a few days away and just thinking about it sapped the energy out of me.
We are all fighting for a good cause. Change is not overnight. Whatever the verdict is, Arizona teachers, both Republicans and Democrats, united together to fight the fight.
And while I would much rather cross sketchy bridges with awesome people searching for our amazing Arizona birds,
...it is teaching that brought me to this place in my life. And no matter what, I am an educator at heart whether it be in the classroom or outdoors.
Next week, we'll finish up with part 2 of this series. We'll find out what the Wrenegades were up to, what Governor Ducey decided and I'll share with you our discoveries. It includes a letter, the Butcher, and Raccoon Bob. Please keep the Arizona teachers in your thoughts, until next time.....