Gov. Doug Ducey presents proposal for teacher pay increase

Amid the Red for Ed movement, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Thursday, April 12 he will increase teacher salaries 20 percent by the end of the 2020 school year.

A view from Red for Ed walk on Wednesday, April 11, at Laguna Elementary School in Scottsdale. (Photo courtesy of Laguna Elementary)

The governor’s office said in a press release the initiative is part of Mr. Ducey’s plan to “fully restore recession-era cuts over the next five years — all without raising taxes while maintaining Arizona’s balanced budget.”

The governor’s play starts with a nine percent pay increase for fiscal year 2019, coupled with a one percent increase for fiscal year 2018. Over the next two years, the rest of the 20 percent will be reached by the 2020 school year, a release states.

Furthermore, the plan adds to Mr. Ducey’s proposal to invest $371 million in District Additional Assistance and Charter Additional Assistance to be added-in over the next five years, a release states.

This includes an investment of $100 million in fiscal year 2019. The governor’s office says “these dollars provide flexibility to school districts for investment in resources, including fixing school infrastructure, modernizing curriculum, school buses and updating classroom technologies.”

Gov. Ducey says Arizona teachers are important to the state and they should be rewarded for all they do.

“This plan does that through a 20 percent pay increase by school year 2020,” Gov. Ducey said in a prepared statement.

“We are also making significant investments in Arizona classrooms in a responsible and sustainable way. We will never stop our commitment to improving Arizona’s public education system because when it comes to our kids, we must never stop working for them.”

The governor’s proposal drew mixed reaction from Expect More Arizona and the Arizona Educators United.

Christine M. Thompson, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona, calls the proposal a “good step forward” and says it would “propel Arizona closer to meeting our shared goal of being at the national median for teacher pay by 2022.”

“As we consider his plan, we still need a long-term funding solution that supports the entire education continuum and ensures safe learning environments and access to 21st century resources for educators and students across the state,” Ms. Thompson said in a prepared statement.

“Expect More Arizona is eager to continue working together, across party lines, to find long-term funding solutions that support the success of every student, every step of the way — regardless of background, income or zip code.”

Arizona Educators United claimed its Red for Ed walk-ins helped push Mr. Ducey to pay attention to the movement. It says it is encouraged to see the governor recognize the “importance of the education funding crisis.”

But the AEU says it still has unanswered questions and the proposal omits “fellow educators that do work beyond the classroom every day.”

“In addition to not addressing our demands, it also does not address the needs of our students such as classroom supplies; class size; pay for education support professionals like counselors, reading coaches, librarians, bus drives, custodians and more; keeping great teachers in state immediately; and a dedicated and permanent funding stream so that our students are no longer last when it comes to per-pupil funding,” the organization says in a prepared statement.

The AEU goes on to say the governor’s proposal doesn’t disclose where the money is coming from and it doesn’t see it as enough action.

“It is another promise that may or may not happen depending on whether the state legislature passes it, and future legislatures may simply erase all these gains through tax cuts,” the AEU said in a prepared statement.

“We are Arizona Educators United. This movement is not just about teacher pay. It’s about all educators standing together and demanding what’s right for our students. We are in this together and we will remain Arizona Educators United.”

Arizona Educators United is a group of teachers, education support professionals, adminstrators and others who “care about the state of education in Arizona,” according to the group’s website.

It says its goal is to ensure students get a quality education, educators are compensated fairly and ultimately to “improve the educational environment in the state of Arizona.

The AEU is a proponent of the Red for Ed movement, which invites those who support their cause to wear red on Wednesdays. The group also organized a walk-in for Wednesday, April 11 where people could wear red and meet at the flag pool 30 minutes prior to the first bell.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.