Education advocates and community groups stood behind teachers as they expressed outrage over Governor Doug Ducey giving his staff up to 20 percent salary increases after teachers only received a one-time, one-percent stipend from the state.
Arizona Education Association (AEA) President Joe Thomas spoke at a press conference on Friday and demanded the governor give teachers a 20 percent raise, also. “Governor Ducey gave hope to teachers in this state when he promised them raises in his state of the state address, but instead the state only offered a one-time, one-percent bonus because the governor said that was all he could afford. Now, to find out that he gave his own staff huge raises, some as high as 20 percent, is a slap in the face to teachers in this state.”
In January 2017, the governor original proposed a 0.4 percent salary increase for teachers. AEA and the AZ Schools Now coalition pushed for a 4 percent raise, citing available money in the state budget. The Arizona Legislature and Governor Ducey passed a budget without any permanent raises for teachers, instead offering a one-percent stipend for teachers, and nothing for education support professionals, including school nurses, counselors, librarians, and more.
“A one percent bonus amounts to about $400 for teachers in my district,” says Madison Traditional Academy kindergarten teacher Amy Ball. “I work with a teacher who is a single mother of two school-age boys. She has to add water to her milk each week to make it go further, and the governor’s one percent bonus will barely cover one month of groceries for her. She is constantly stressed and in fear that something will go wrong with her car, house, or one of her boys, because she doesn’t know how she will be able to tighten her purse strings more to handle it. It’s hard to keep teachers in Arizona like my friend, who could move closer to family in New Mexico and make $15,000 more.”
“We have had years of neglect by politicians like Governor Ducey who have created a huge gap in teacher pay,” says AEA Vice President Marisol Garcia. “So much neglect, that even with a 20 percent pay increase of teacher salaries, their salaries would be barely competitive with surrounding states and still well below the national average. Also, a 20 percent teacher salary increase is in line with Achieve60AZ’s Arizona Education Progress Meter’s goal of having elementary teacher salaries at the national average in 5 years.”
“At a time when Arizona is ranked as the worst state in the nation for teachers,” says Thomas. “This latest insult shows that addressing the state’s teacher shortage is not a priority for Arizona’s governor. Maybe it’s time we stood behind teachers rather than trust politicians like Ducey to solve this crisis. I trust parents and teachers to work together to find solutions far more than I trust politicians.”