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Arizona governor proposes 20 percent teacher raises by 2020

Arizona governor proposes 20 percent teacher raises by 2020

The moves comes amid a wave of teachers strikes over pay and education budgets in states including West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky and Oklahoma. On Thursday, after thousands of Oklahoma teachers flooded the capitol to demand more school funding for nearly two weeks, union leader Alicia Priest called for an end to the teacher walkout, conceding to reporters on Thursday night that the teachers' demands wouldn't be satisfied after seeing "no significant legislative movement" since the walkout began.

The move represents a huge concession from Ducey-but Arizona educators say it's simply not enough.

Prior to the announcement, Tuscon teacher and Arizona Educators United organizer Derek Harris told teachers "that we need to be sure that this is not just a pay [increase] for teachers".

Ducey was vague about where the cash would come from, only saying a growing economy and lower spending in other areas unexpectedly freed up $274 million this year.

Under Ducey's plan, teacher pay would increase 9 percent this year, followed by a 5 percent raise for each of the next two years.

However, Kofa High School teachers said they're skeptical and concerned over the proposal. "There's a lot more to do, but it's a good-faith gesture that we think is something to continue working together on".




As recently as Tuesday, a defiant Arizona governor said he was sticking with a 1 percent increase proposition. He said he wants to see actual legislation and how the governor will pay for it. Harris says at this point, "there's not really anything to trust".

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

Teachers wearing red shirts and holding signs are gathering outside Arizona schools to show solidarity in their demand for higher salaries.

In future years, the raises would rely on new money available from this year's extension of Prop 301, a major funding source for teacher salaries. Average salaries previous year were actually $8,000-$9,000 less than 1990 salaries when adjusted for inflation. Under the proposal, average teacher pay would go from about $49,000 a year to over $58,000 by the start of 2020.

Separately on Thursday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's office plans a press briefing to outline new initiative from the Republican governor to boost teacher pay. But he already proposed $100 million in his budget plan as a start to restoring almost $400 million cuts made earlier in the decade - including $117 million he cut in 2015. "K-12 education is a box that we will never check". "This investment will be in addition to the $371 million in district additional assistance which will provide flexible funding for Arizona schools' most pressing needs - fixing school infrastructure, modernizing curriculum, school buses and updating classroom technologies". On Thursday, he promised to give them the 20 percent raise they've been asking for - 10 percent next year and 10 percent more the following year.


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