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Arizona teachers skeptical of governor's raise proposal

Arizona teachers skeptical of governor's raise proposal”

On Wednesday, Arizona teachers staged a statewide "walk-in", demanding an increase in pay and more funding for schools overall.

The proposal rolled out by the Republican governor Thursday doesn't increase funding for other school needs or provide raises for school staff as a grassroots teachers group demanded.

The #RedForEd organizers said they plan to move forward with a walkout and urged their members to remain united in a Facebook video message.

Earlier on Thursday, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard rolled out a proposal to boost teacher pay by 6 percent next year and 24 percent over the next six years. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arizona elementary teachers earned a median wage of $43,280 in 2017 and high school teachers $46,470, the 3rd and 6th lowest in the nation, respectively.

Karvelis, a Tolleson, Ariz., music teacher, said Ducey's proposal "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". And, organized by a recently formed advocacy group, Arizona Educators United, teachers had also discussed the possibility of staging a walkout if Republican lawmakers refused to reinstate about a $1 billion in cuts in state education funding over the last decade.

The demands include 20% teacher pay raises now, the restoration of about $1 billion in education funding cuts made during the Great Recession and competitive pay for classified employees, such as cafeteria workers, bus drivers and paraprofessionals. Hoover said. "He said we can't afford it, now all of a sudden we have nine percent?"

On Wednesday, Arizona teachers and others held "walk-ins" at more than 1,000 schools to draw attention to their demands.

Teachers in Oklahoma have been on strike for almost two weeks after turning down their governor and legislature's promise of raises.

Arizona House Democrats called Ducey's plan a step in the right direction, but said they have misgivings.

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He stated that the number of students entering the program has practically cut in half. It's day seven of the Oklahoma teacher walkout , and the message is not wavering.

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"Most of these teachers are not only here walking so that they can get a pay raise, but they really care about all of their students, looking out for their futures and making sure that the have all the tools necessary to achieve", he said.

"My school is fine but other schools aren't", he said. What is going on?

Arizona teachers make $48,372 a year on average, among the lowest in the country. "He saw the #RedforEd movement; he heard what we had to say".

"My hope is that the collective power of teachers across the state gave the governor some pause", he said.

But the union rep for the district of 64,000 students is still skeptical.

"Arizona teachers are the biggest difference-makers in the lives of Arizona's children, and we need to reward them for their hard work", he said in a statement.

"There's a part of me that suspects, what's the catch?"

He said he wants to see actual legislation and how the governor will pay for it.

Ducey said the 9 percent raises, which will cost $274 million, are a "priority" in his budget proposal. If they did, classroom sizes wouldn't be so large, teachers wouldn't be expected to pay for classroom supplies and teachers wouldn't be forced to take second jobs and live with roommates in order to pay bills.



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