Arizona governor promises 20% raise for teachers by 2020

Gov. Doug Ducey proposes teacher pay increase of 9% this year, 20% by 2020

Ducey also pledged to give teachers a 5 percent increase in the fiscal year 2020 budget, and another 5 percent in the year after that.

The Republican governor's announcement came after more than a month of protests at the state Capitol and at schools across Arizona that were followed by a strike threat early this week.

Arizona educators were encouraged in part by successful teacher walkouts in West Virginia and Oklahoma. Hours later, teachers showed up at a Sahuarita Unified School District meeting where the board OK'd the raise.

Thomas said that Ducey's proposal reminded him of when he would give assignments to his students, and a student would turn in an assignment clearly hoping to just get a grade that is good enough to pass.

It was a surprising shift in tone from the governor, who has repeatedly rejected teachers' demands for a raise and school funding.

As now as Tuesday, a defiant Arizona governor acknowledged he was sticking with a 1 % improve proposal.

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"To me right now, it feels like this was essentially an attempt to stop whatever actions we may have been taking, instead of a legitimate groundwork for future investment in education and to fulfill our demands", said #RedForEd leader and West Valley music teacher Noah Karvelis. Ducey's proposal didn't include more spending on those items.

As recently as Tuesday, a defiant Arizona governor refused to meet teachers threatening to strike over low pay and said he was sticking with a 1% raise proposal.

Ducey said rising state revenue would help pay for the increase; he also said the plan wouldn't involve a tax hike and that he would maintain a balanced budget.

"It's an idea worth being optimistic about, " said Dawn Penich-Thacker, spokeswoman for Save Our Schools.

The "walk-ins" were held before classes and were organized by a grassroots movement pushing for a 20 percent raise and more than $1 billion in new education funding. Oklahoma's two largest school districts have been closed for almost two weeks because of a teacher strike and Kentucky educators called in sick to protest pension reform.

But if that's what people want to believe, Petersen said, "then maybe it is time for the legislature to do what people think is already the case and dictate salaries". "At this point there's not really anything to trust".

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As Casey Kuhn, reporter for NPR member station KJZZ wrote, Arizona teachers are among the lowest paid in the country, according to federal data. Adjusted for local cost of living, federal figures show elementary teachers actually rank 49th in earnings and high school teachers 48th. But even if other states froze teacher pay, Arizona's salary under Ducey's proposal would still fall below the national average of $61,370, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The speakers reiterated the goals of AEU, including a 20 percent raise for all teaching and certified staff for the 2018-19 school year and a return to 2008 school funding levels. As such, Arizona's budgets are still exceptionally tight a decade after the recession.

Ducey did not mention Mesnard's proposal, at least not directly, as he said his plan does not divert other education dollars.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard provided an alternative plan that would redistribute money from school buildings and upkeep and direct it to teacher salaries, resulting in a 6 percent raise next year.

A growing economy is boosting state revenues and cutting caseloads in social services agencies, freeing up cash for teacher raises, Ducey said. He's also said he would cancel some of the planned spending in his budget and using savings from government efficiencies. That money was already committed to teacher pay. "We are fighting for you so that our resources do not have to be quite so limited anymore", the statement said.

"Teachers, parents, and leaders across this state understand that many dollars put into school budgets cannot be spent on teacher pay when school buses are broken down, health insurance and utility costs are going up, class sizes are growing, roofs are leaking, students are missing classroom aids and counselors, and textbooks are 15 years old", Naimark said.

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