Second-grade teacher Alexis Aguirre from the Osborn Elementary School District called Governor Doug Ducey out on his support for education at the AZSchools Now news conference on Thursday at the Arizona State Capitol.
“I decided to become a teacher because of the impact teachers made in my life,” said Aguirre, who teaches at Encanto Elementary School in Phoenix. “Our jobs are incredibly difficult. Our students suffer sometimes from homelessness or special needs that we have to address in the classroom, because we don’t have the support that our school wishes they could give us.”
If our school board had the money in the budget, they would pay teachers more, said Aguirre, who was honored as the 2017 Esperanza Latino Teacher Award by Chicanos Por La Causa for her impact on the future generation.
“If our principals had the money, they would hire more teachers aides, they would hire more bus drivers, they would hire more counselors, but the money’s just not there,” Aguirre said.
At the news conference, Aguirre held up her check from her school district with the 1.6 percent bonus for teachers that the governor and legislature approved last year.
“This is my check. So after years of not getting a significant raise, teachers were given a one-time stipend raise for the year. It’s $402,” Aguirre said. “So obviously, this is not what the governor has been saying he’s going to do, supporting educational funding. This is not proof that he’s really taken into consideration what our kids need, what our teachers need, what our districts need. It’s not enough by any means.”
In contrast, the governor awarded raises of up to 20 percent to 44 of his staff members over that past two and a half years and the governor’s Department of Administration gave at least 245 employees pay raises that average 18 percent, according to an article in The Arizona Republic.
“Real educational funding is going to be long-term, it’s going to be sustainable, it’s going to go beyond us teachers to support staff, our students, our buildings. There’s so much that needs to be fixed in our state right now, and this is not, this is not it,” Aguirre said.