Education group demands better pay for teachers

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Arizona education officials cranked up the pressure Monday on Gov. Doug Ducey to fix the current teacher shortage by boosting teacher pay.

In a letter delivered by a pair of teachers, AZ Schools Now is demanding an additional $134 million to fund teacher raises, a significantly higher number than the governor’s proposal of $13.6 million.

“We might be beyond the tipping point,” said Christine Marsh, a former Arizona teacher of the year. “We are facing a teacher shortage to proportions that I don’t think people are quite recognizing.”

The letter Marsh delivered outlined a plan to free up $134 million that could be used to pay teachers more money.

It called for directing $95 million from some of the governor’s other K-12 proposals, like funding all-day kindergarten.

The group also called for a freeze on income school tax credits ($12 million), holding off on a planned income tax cut ($3 million), and steering money out of achievement districts ($24 million) and toward teacher paychecks.

“I’m always open-minded and willing to listen to our great, dedicated teachers, so I look forward to the letter,” Ducey said Monday before the letter was delivered.

In his budget proposal, the governor outlined a plan to phase in a permanent 2 percent pay increase over five years.

Teachers would see a .4 percent bump in the first year, which works out to roughly $15 a month.

But some teachers say that’s not enough to stop their colleagues from leaving the profession.

“You almost don’t listen to it, it’s so insignificant, they figure you should get 2 percent each year just to keep up with inflation and everything else,” said Brendan Mann, who’s taught at Osborn Middle School for the past 11 years.

A recent survey of 130 school districts found over 8,100 teaching vacancies that needed to be filled across the state.

-Originally published by Dennis Welch, AZ Family on 1/23/17 at 6:05 pm

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