Arizona Governor Proposes 20-Percent Raise for Teachers

The threat of a state-wide walkout, however, remains high.

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Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has agreed to give the state’s teachers a 20-percent raise over the next three years. Ducey’s proposal comes after more than a month of rumblings and minor protests by Arizona teachers, who have been demanding an increase in pay as well as more funding for schools.

On Wednesday, teachers staged a “walk-in” to voice their demands and were threatening to follow the lead of teachers from West Virginia and Oklahoma by staging a state-wide walk-out. However, Ducey’s proposal may have prevented such a large-scale protest, at least for now.

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Under Ducey’s plan, teachers would receive a nine-percent pay increase this fall (on top of the one-percent increase they already got this year), raising the median teacher salary in Arizona to $52,725. They would then be given an additional five-percent raise over the next two years for a total of 20 percent by 2020. In addition, Ducey has indicated he’s willing to restore up to $1 billion in education funding, money that was cut over the last decade following the Great Recession.

But while Ducey’s plan seems like a win for teachers, many are hesitant to celebrate just yet. And for good reason. The proposal is little more than a gesture of goodwill until approved by members of the state’s legislature, and there’s no indication whether members will support the increase. Not only that, nobody knows how he intends to pay for it.

“What he gave us today was just a proposal, it wasn’t legislation,” Tucson teacher and Arizona Educators United organizer Derek Harris told the Associated Press. “We don’t know where the money is coming from, and we don’t know if he’s talking about everybody involved in education or just classroom teachers.”

In fact, some believe Ducey’s offer covers the teachers’ request for higher pay while ignoring other demands like “increased pay for support professionals, a permanent raise structure, and a freeze on corporate tax cuts until per-pupil spending reaches the national average.” While no specific date is set, Arizona’s 45,000 teachers are expected to vote this week on whether to strike for more education funding, and it should be interesting to see whether the governor’s overture can prevent a walkout or rekindle negotiations.

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