David Garcia, the Democratic candidate in the Arizona governor’s race, has touted his record as a teacher, but he only taught three classes this year, and only one of those in person — and that class lasted only 6 weeks. Garcia also laments that teachers are not paid enough, but he made more than $30,000 more than the average teacher salary in Arizona this year. He has also published less research than his colleagues, and the university where he works has taken down the site for his Arizona Education Policy Initiative (AEPI).
While earning this full-time, taxpayer-funded salary, Garcia campaigned across Arizona, traveled to Hollywood for a fundraiser, and spent many days in Washington, D.C. He seems to have spent comparatively little time with his 16 in-person students and his 16 online students in the spring, and the prospects do not look good for the 20 students enrolled in his online class for this fall.
Yet this Democrat has insisted, over and over again, that what Arizona needs is a governor with teaching experience. “This particular issue is my number one issue. I’m an educator. I’m a teacher and what we need to solve this problem is the teacher’s commitment to education and the teacher’s commitment to every single student in Arizona,” Garcia said in a Democrats forum in March.
“So, imagine this when I am standing next to [Republican Gov.] Doug Ducey and we’re arguing this one out, he’s going to turn and say he’s the education governor and we know he’s lying there correct?” Garcia added. “How about we elect a governor who’s an educator? What about that folks? And that’s exciting because our teachers understand that it’s somebody who’s been in the classroom that has this commitment.”
The Democrat reiterated this message a few days later. “We need someone who has a teacher’s commitment to our schools and I am not running to be an education governor,” Garcia said. “We’re going to do something different in Arizona and we’re going to elect a governor who’s an educator, who’s a teacher.”
Sure, Garcia has been in the classroom — for 2.75 hours a week, for six weeks. According to the Arizona State University (ASU) website, the Democrat candidate taught “EPA 555: Translating Research for Educational Change” from January 8 to February 27. The class lasted between 4:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Tuesdays, and had 14 students.
Garcia taught one other class in the spring, an online course called “TEL 712: Mixed Methods of Inquiry.” This class also had a mere 14 students.
This coming semester, the Democratic candidate will teach another “TEL 712: Mixed Methods of Inquiry,” to a grand total of 10 students.
Yes, in 2018 Garcia will have taught 38 students. He himself requested this lax teaching schedule, according to an ASU response to a request for records.
“Faculty can request a different configuration of their teaching assignment, such as three courses in one semester and one course in another semester – which Professor Garcia requested and had approved for AY2019 (two other faculty members in the college made a similar request and also had their requests approved),” ASU explained. “During the fall 2018 semester, Professor Garcia is teaching TEL 712: Mixed Methods of Inquiry, which has a cohort of 10 students.”
Garcia’s page on the ASU website also lists two instances of “research” and “dissertation,” but ASU reported that the Democrat candidate is only supervising one student this semester. “He is supervising one student in EDA 792: Research. Professor Garcia’s workload assignment for AY2019 also includes research and service components,” ASU reported.
Occasionally, university professors will take a lax teaching schedule in order to prioritize important academic research which will help bolster the university’s profile. Yet, in the last five years, he has published a grand total of three research papers. In that same period, his colleagues Michelle Jordan published 33 papers, Oscar Jimenez-Castellanos published 11 papers, and Eugene Judson published 20 papers. Jordan and Judson are still Garcia’s colleagues at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, while Jimenez-Castellanos also taught there — until this year.
To make matters worse, Garcia’s bio refers to him as director of the Arizona Education Policy Initiative (AEPI) at ASU. This institute is no longer listed on ASU’s website. Its most recent research paper was written in 2006. Its own website has been taken down. The initiative does not employ any staff besides Garcia, it listed no information about activities, research, or events, and its phone number redirects to a voicemail at ASU.
Garcia’s lax work schedule and leadership of an erased institute do net him a hefty salary, however. While this proud educator will have taught a mere three classes in 2018 with 38 students (39, counting the student he is supervising), he will receive $82,063.20 this year. He has received four pay raises totaling 6 percent since 2012. This salary equates to $39.45 per hour, if Garcia worked 40 hours per week.
Contrast all this with the average work hours and pay of American educators. According to The Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss, teachers work 53 hours per week on average. “The 7.5 hours in the classroom are just the starting point. On average, teachers are at school an additional 90 minutes beyond the school day for mentoring, providing after-school help for students, attending staff meetings and collaborating with peers,” she wrote.
“Teachers then spend another 95 minutes at home grading, preparing classroom activities, and doing other job-related tasks. The workday is even longer for teachers who advise extracurricular clubs and coach sports – 11 hours and 20 minutes, on average,” Strauss added.
Over the spring 2018 semester, the average teacher taught 600 in-person classroom hours. Contrast this with Garcia’s 16.5 hours teaching “EPA 555.”
According to the Arizona Auditor General, the average teacher earned $48,372 in fiscal year 2017. According to the U.S. Census in 2016, the average household income in Arizona is $51,340. The average Arizona teacher earning $48,372 per year and working 53 hours every week equates to an hourly wage of $17.55 per hour, less than half of Garcia’s per hour salary.
Garcia is a college professor, and college professors made an average of $80,095 in 2016-2017, according to the American Association of University Professors. That said, Garcia equated himself with public school teachers, suggesting his “teacher’s commitment” qualifies him for the governorship. He has not struggled the way K-12 teachers struggle, however. His salary arguably amounts to twice theirs.
The candidate himself may have put it best at a May campaign stop in Tucson. “My goal in life was to become a professor and I finally got that shot 12 years ago and I have been a professor at ASU since then and it’s a phenomenal gig,” he said.
Teaching three classes with 39 students and making $82,063 per year? “Phenomenal” sounds about right.
David Garcia has a phenomenal gig for himself, but his leadership would be far less phenomenal for the people of Arizona.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.