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Opinion: Education Must Be our Priority

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Opinion: Education Must Be our Priority
Ron Pies

I am not an educator. However, I spent my entire career working with educators at every level. I even served as an elected member of a school governing board in the early 1980’s. I resent the attitude that our elected officials seem to have about a profession that I personally feel, is one of the most important in our society. Members of the Arizona Legislature enjoy berating public educators. Criticizing our teachers because they complain about poor funding and even their work schedules. Recently, legislation was passed and signed into law, by our anti education Governor, eliminating the need for an education degree to teach in our schools.

So often, these criticisms are answered by our educators. They do so, justly to defend what they do and how they do it. Their arguments are not self serving. They are truly sincere.

Having been so close to the education community as a parent, elected official and even as an employer, I am incensed with the attitude of those elected officials, particularly our Governor, Superintendent of Education and the Arizona Legislature.

Every single educator that I have known over the past fifty years has been truly dedicated to bettering the lives of their students and the society that they will inherit. Their compensation is pitiful, requiring so many to work at more jobs, just to make a decent living. No, they are not buying boats or taking cruises. Most, if not all, provide the supplies needed in their classrooms. They do it because our public schools are underfunded. If some do chose to buy a boat or take a cruise, it comes with sacrifice of other needs. If they do, what business is it of some arrogant legislator?

My bottom line, is that we need to reassess our priorities in this state and even in this country. We must provide the resources and compensation to those who have dedicated their lives to our children. The dividends will be a better society.

I would strongly suggest that voters pay special attention to the next election. The time is well past due to make massive changes in our government to place education as our top priority.

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Ā Ron Pies Ron Pies, retired from the City of Tempe after thirty years October 12, 1998. He was hired as the Director of Parks and Recreation in 1969 before being promoted to the Director of Community Services in 1984. Ron is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he is a Gold Devil Life Member of the ASU Alumni Association. He also attended the University of New Mexico. He was a school record holder in two events on the University of New Mexico track team. He was also a member of his state championship high school track team. He was Vice Chair of the Maricopa County Stadium District Advisory Committee and Past President of the Cactus League Baseball Association. He was appointed to Chair the Governor's Baseball Commission in Arizona. He was also appointed by five Arizona Governors to the Baseball Commission (re-appointed in 2005 by Governor Napolitano), the Arizona State Parks Board, where he was instrumental in the creation and passage of the Arizona Heritage Act and the Outdoor Recreation Coordinating Commission. He was elected to a term on the Kyrene Elementary School Board in Tempe and served one year as its President. Ron was the marketing chair for the Tempe Tourism Council of the Chamber of Commerce and was a founder of the Tempe Convention and Tourism Bureau. He was also a founding member of the Tempe YMCA Board. He also served as the treasurer for the Tempe Boys and Girls Club. He has been awarded the Fellow Award and the Distinguished Life Member awards by the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, the Outstanding Professional Award from the Pacific Southwest Regional Council of the National Recreation and Parks Association and the Management Award for Superior Service from the American Society for Public Administration. Ron has also been recognized as the Outstanding Young Man by the Scottsdale Jaycees .In 1996 he was inducted into the Arizona State University College of Public Programs Hall of Fame and the Tempe Elementary School District Hall of Fame. His department was awarded the National Gold Medal in 1975 and again in 1995 for Excellence in Parks and Recreation Management. On January 21, 2000. Ron was recognized by the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association as one of nine Leisure Legends in recognition of that organization's first fifty years. On September 29, 2001, He was also honored by the City of Tempe with the dedication of the Ronald E. Pies Gymnasium at the new Westside Community Center. In 2016 the American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administration selected Ron as an AAPRA Legend.He is a graduate of the Disney Institute's Business and Management Programs. He recently celebrated his 52nd wedding anniversary with his wife Bernita. They have two grown children. Their daughter, Cara (Paul) Tracy, is Global Client Advisor at Influence at Work and son, Dave (Jane) is the Recreation Manager for the City of Kennesaw, Georgia.Ron served in the Air National Guard.

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