The CS Press

The Race is On

2016 Teacher of the Year and freshman English teacher, Christine Marsh has announced her bid for the state Senate.

Back to Article
Back to Article

The Race is On

Sara Windom and Kiera Riley

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

With the 2018 midterm elections on the horizon, contenders have begun campaigning for the state and US Senate seats. Among those running is Christine Marsh, an English teacher of more than 20 years.

“Somebody told me ‘you’re the one to do this,’ I said no for about six weeks. I eventually came to this realization that I would lose less sleep running than not running, although it would be a different type of loss of sleep,” said Marsh. “I would be worrying and wondering if I could’ve done more.”

Marsh is running for the State Senate seat in Legislative District 28 as a Democrat. Her campaign hinges primarily on education and her experiences in the public school system as an AP English teacher at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale. Marsh now works as a freshman English teacher at Cactus Shadows.

Marsh attributes her decision to run to two main events. The first came after a conversation with one of her students.

“One of my students a couple of years ago asked me after class if kids in Arizona are worth less than kids in other states. I didn’t know what he was talking about,” said Marsh. “And he said, ‘Well we’re funded so much less, we must be worth less.’”

The conversation stuck with Marsh.

“That hurt, that a junior in high school was recognizing some of the things happening.”

The second came after being named 2016’s Teacher of the Year and embarking on a statewide tour of Arizona education.

“I traveled the state and I saw that it was even worse, ‘it’ meaning the financial situation of our students in particular, was even worse than I thought it was,” said Marsh.

As a legislator, Marsh plans on not only funneling more funding into public education, but prioritizing how the money is spent. Through her different conversations with teachers across the country, the top concerns widely included teacher salary, teacher shortages, class sizes, and the push for privatized education.

Teachers’ salaries in Arizona are among the lowest in the country. The average pay for secondary school teachers in Arizona is $47,890 while the national average is $58,030, according to AZCentral. This in turn contributes to the teacher shortage. Because of the low pay, teachers often have little to no incentive to stay in the state or profession.

Currently Arizona has the third highest pupil to teacher ratio, according to Wallet Hub, a website that offers free financial information. In addition to hosting some of the biggest classes in the country, Arizona’s per-pupil revenue is 48th in the nation, at about $8,634, according to AZEdNews, a website that “delivers news and information that contributes to informed public discussion and greater understanding of Arizona K-12 education.” The national average is $13,246.  

Part of the reason Arizona public schools are so underfunded is because of the push for private and charter institutions within the state. In Arizona, there are 2,006 public schools,  465 private schools, and 547 charter schools. Even with nearly two times more public institutions, how the schools are funded can vastly impact the education.

Carrie Lifshitz of AZCentral wrote, “When a student leaves a district, 19 percent of the fixed costs associated with that student remain… when parents move their children from districts to charters, many no longer support the district in their communities on bonds and overrides.”

Aside from education, Marsh is also hoping to fight against corporate tax breaks, encourage renewable energy initiatives, and mend the foster care system.

Although Marsh is running as Democrat, she hopes to cause a slight shift in the Republican majority to encourage bipartisan bills and compromise.

The Arizona State Senate is not the only legislative body on the cusp of a possible majority swing. With Jeff Flake’s retirement from politics and John McCain’s poor health, two US senate seats could quite possibly be on the ballot for Arizona voters.

“Never in history has it occured where two senators will be up for election in the same state at the same time because the constitution is structured in a way so that doesn’t happen,” said Molly Gum, government teacher.

Circumstances making the current situation possible are both unique in their own aspects. Flake announced his decision to retire following mounting frustration with the Republican party under the current administration. Following his speech, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders commented, “ I think that based on previous statements and certainly based on the lack of support that he has from the people of Arizona, it’s probably a good move.”

While this may or may not be true, the race for Flake’s seat is already gaining attention. Republicans and Democrats alike are already preparing candidates and campaigns, each coming with their own air of controversy.

The current Republican contenders include Kelli Ward, Martha McSally, and Joe Arpaio.

Ward previously served in the Arizona Senate and ran against McCain in the 2015 midterm election for the US Senate seat. Ward describes herself as “a true conservative” and has already received endorsement from Steve Bannon, former Chief Strategist, and positive affirmation from the commander in chief via Twitter.

McSally, veteran and representative in US congress, announced her bid by taking to the skies in a T-6 fighter plane. Currently, the GOP and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader endorse McSally.

Joe Arpaio, former Maricopa county Sheriff, announced his bid for Senate only months after being pardoned by President Trump for criminal contempt. In the past, Arpaio took an unconventional approach to immigration and the prison systems making him a closely watched candidate.

The Democratic party’s top runner right now is Kyrsten Simena, US congressional representative. Simena, a former Green party candidate, has established herself as a moderate Democrat with a history of bipartisan work.

Aside from Simena, Deedra Abboud, a former attorney and advocate for a variety of civil rights groups, is also sparking some interest as she is the first female muslim candidate to run for the US Senate position in Arizona.

“I’m hoping to see a more diverse pool of options. I think that our state has a lot of diversity in it and I’m hoping that the people who run will reflect that,” said Gum.

Arizona is also voting on the governor this election season. Doug Ducey leads the pack as he announced his reelection campaign. Others running include Democrats, state Senator Steve Farley and Arizona State University professor David Garcia.

“Pay attention because the more involved we are the more we can get done. So if you are unhappy with the way things are going in government or in our society, actually take the steps to move it forward,” said Audrey Goman, a senior.

With rumors circulating about the candidates and positions, there are also prospects regarding voting numbers this year.

“Our governor elections are always on midterm years meaning that they’re years when there is not  a president running and so we always get much lower turnout than other states that do it on presidential election years. Not a lot people come out of at the midterms because they don’t see it as high stakes,” said Gum.

But stakes may be raised. Because seats in both the state and US senate could shift the majority, the state expects to see a rise in voter turnout. Students are also preparing to register to vote, as many are 18 or on the cusp of 18.

“It’s important to be heard and vote, get out and vote and know who you’re voting for and don’t get all your information from one source. Change up your sources and make sure they’re reliable,” said Michael Marchica, a senior.

To encourage students to vote, Gum is planning on setting up a day in which students can register to vote.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

The Voice of Cactus Shadows High School
The Race is On