Education coalition looks toward teacher raises, other goals


TED SIMONS: COMING UP ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," WE HEAR ABOUT EDUCATION CONCERNS FROM A GROUP THAT HELPED PASS PROPOSITION 123.

TED SIMONS: AZ SCHOOLS NOW IS AN EDUCATION COALITION THAT HELPED PASS PROP-123, WHICH PROVIDED MORE MONEY FOR SCHOOLS. NOW, THE COALITION IS SETTING ITS SIGHTS ON OTHER WAYS TO IMPROVE EDUCATION IN ARIZONA. HERE NOW IS CHRISTINE MARSH, THE 2016 EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION TEACHER OF THE YEAR, AND DICK FOREMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO OF THE ARIZONA BUSINESS AND EDUCATION COALITION. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

CHRISTINE MARSH: THANKS FOR HAVING US.
TED SIMONS: AZ SCHOOLS, WHAT IS THAT?

DICK FOREMAN: IT'S A COALITION THAT INVOLVES THE ALPHABET EDUCATION GROUPS. ARIZONA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, SCHOOL BOARD ASSOCIATION AND SO ON. WE COALESCE UNDER AZ SCHOOLS NOW TO FIGHT FOR COMMON GOALS.

TED SIMONS: YOU DELIVERED A LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE. CORRECT. WHAT DID THE LETTER SAY?

CHRISTINE MARSH: THE LETTER TALKED ABOUT THE GOALS AZ SCHOOLS NOW HAS FOR THE UPCOMING BUDGET. IT WAS ABOUT BRINGING THE AVAILABLE FUNDING TO TEACHER PAY TO COMBAT THE TEACHER SHORTAGE. WE ARE ON THE TIPPING POINT CRISIS SITUATION, AND SO IT ALSO RECOMMENDED STOPPING ANY FUTURE TAX CUTS. IT ASKED THAT SOME OF THE ALPHABET GROUPS BE INVOLVED IN STEP TWO WITH GOVERNOR DUCEY SINCE WE HELPED PASS IT WHICH WAS SUPPOSED TO BE PROP 1.

TED SIMONS: IT'S A TIPPING POINT IN ARIZONA, DO YOU AGREE?
DICK FOREMAN: WE DO AGREE. WE HAVE ABOUT 4,000 SCHOOLS WITHOUT A TEACHER. THESE NUMBERS ARE UP FROM 1,000 LAST YEAR. WE HAVE 3,000 VACANCIES OPPOSED TO ONE, 2,000 CLASSROOMS TEACHING WITHOUT A CERTIFIED TEACHER, A BABYSITTER, IF YOU WILL. WE ARE CONFIDENT FROM THE BUSINESS SIDE THAT WE HAVE TO LOOK AT THIS MORE AS A BUSINESS PROPOSITION AND THIS PROPOSITION IS NOT WORKING.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE SHORTAGE, HAS IT INCREASINGLY BEEN A PROBLEM? WAS IT LIKE THIS 20 YEARS AGO? WHAT IS GOING ON OUT THERE?

DICK FOREMAN: IT WASN'T LIKE THIS 20 YEARS. TEACHING HAS BEEN A RESPECTED POSITION BY ARIZONANS, AND POLLS SHOW THAT TO THIS DAY, BUT IF WE WANT TO BRING TEACHERS UP TO THE AVERAGE PAY IN THE COUNTRY. WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT BEING THE BEST PAID. A LOT OF PEOPLE WANT THEM TO BE PAID BETTER THAN AVERAGE BUT AT THE CURRENT RATE THE GOVERNOR PROPOSES, IT WILL TAKE 60 YEARS TO GET THERE. IT'S NOT A WORKABLE SOLUTION.

TED SIMONS: AN ADDITIONAL $134 MILLION TO FUND TEACHER RAISES.

CHRISTINE MARSH: YES, AND I HAVE TO SAY AS A TEACHER, THIS IS A TOUGH PILL FOR ME TO SWALLOW TO ADVOCATE FOR TEACHER PAY. TEACHERS ARE ALL ABOUT STUDENTS SO MY BATTLE HAS ALWAYS BEEN REDUCING CLASS SIZE WITH AN IMPACT ON KIDS. IT'S HEARTBREAKING TO HAVE TO SHIFT MY FOCUS FROM KIDS TO TEACHERS, BUT IF WE DON'T HAVE TEACHERS TO FILL THE CLASSES WHICH WE CURRENTLY DON'T, THEN ALL OF THE OTHER STUFF DOESN'T MATTER.

TED SIMONS: THE GOVERNOR WAS PROPOSING $13.6 MILLION, EQUATES TO A QUARTER OF A PERCENT A YEAR OR SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES. YOURS IS 1% A YEAR?

CHRISTINE MARSH: IT'S 4% PERMANENT. HOW ARE THEY GOING TO MEET THERE?

DICK FOREMAN: WE DON'T KNOW. THAT'S WHAT WE ARE ABOUT TRYING TO SEE IF THERE'S GOING TO BE COMPROMISE. THERE NEEDS TO BE BECAUSE THE CURRENT PROPOSAL FROM THE GOVERNOR IS A BUCK OR TWO A DAY FOR TEACHERS. AND THAT'S NOT GOING TO CUT IT. IT'S NOT GOING TO CUT IT.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS FINDING THE MONEY FOR THIS IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES OUT THERE?

TED SIMONS: WE BELIEVE THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES. OUR LAST ANNUAL MEETING WE LOOKED SPECIFICALLY AT REVENUE STREAMS. WE ARE OPTIMISTIC IN ARIZONA. WE BELIEVE WE HAVE A FANTASTIC RESOURCE BASE. OTHER WESTERN STATES HAVE USED THEIR RESOURCES TO BETTER FUND THEIR SCHOOLS. I COULD GO DOWN THE LIST, BUT IT'S PRETTY MUCH EVERY WESTERN STATE AROUND US. WE ARE OPEN TO EXPLORING THE IDEAS BECAUSE I THINK MANY ARE VIABLE. I'M REVENUE AGNOSTIC, BUT OFFERING TEACHERS 80-CENTS A DAY AND FULL DAY KINDERGARTEN, IT'S GOING TO TAKE 20 YEARS TO COVER THE KIDS IN ARIZONA, WE DON'T WANT TO LOOK AT THIS AS A MULTIGENERATIONAL PROBLEM. WE THINK IT SHOULD BE SOLVE IN THIS GENERATION.

TED SIMONS: ALL DAY KINDERGARTEN, DOES THAT NEED TO BE SACRIFICED?

CHRISTINE MARSH: THAT'S A WORTHY ENDEAVOR AS WELL. YES, BOTTOM LINE YES. IF WE DON'T HAVE TEACHERS TO FILL THE CLASSROOMS, THEN WHAT IS THE POINT? THAT'S CLEARLY A WORTHY ENDEAVOUR. ALL OF THE GOALS FOR EDUCATION ARE INCREDIBLY WORTHY. THEY ARE ALL GOOD FOR KIDS, BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS, IF WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TEACHERS FOR THE CLASSROOMS, OUR KIDS DO INDEED SUFFER. SOURCES SAY WITHIN THE NEXT THREE YEAR, 25% OF US ARE REACHING THE AGE OF RETIREMENT. WHO IS GOING TO FILL THE SPOTS.

TED SIMONS: SOME IDEAS, FREEZING INCREASE, SCHOOL TAX CREDITS, USING FUNDS FROM ACHIEVEMENT DISTRICTS. WHAT ARE ACHIEVEMENT DISTRICTS?

DICK FOREMAN: I'M NOT SURE. THEY ARE PART OF THE STATE OF THE STATE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO. THEY ARE INTENDED TO SUPPORT LOWER-INCREASE STUDENTS. THE IDEAS ARE NOBLE. WE HAVE NO ARGUMENT BUT $24 MILLION HAS BEEN SITTING AROUND FOR TWO YEARS. WE HAVE 4,000 CLASSROOMS WITHOUT A CERTIFIED TEACHER TODAY. I LOOK AT THE PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION TAX CREDITS FOR CORPORATIONS, IF YOU FROZE IT INSTEAD OF LETTING IT GROW 20% A YEAR WHEN WE ARE NOT EVEN FUNDING 2%. THE PROPOSE THAT AZ SCHOOLS NOW HAS ENCOURAGED THE GOVERNOR TO CONSIDER AND WILL CONTINUE TO ENCOURAGE IS INTENDED TO BE REALISTIC, NOT PIE IN THE SKY, USING NUMBERS BY THE GOVERN AND SAYING THE PRIORITY IS A QUALITY TEACHER THE CLASSROOM. MAYBE WE CAN GET THE EXTRA THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR IN THE CLASSROOM AND THAT'S WORTH IT.

TED SIMONS: I KNOW THE CRITICS WILL SAY PRIVATE SECTOR FOLK HAVE NOT HAD INCREASES IN PAY EITHER, WHY SHOULD TEACHERS GET THE INCREASE?

CHRISTINE MARSH: I THINK IT'S SUPPLY AND DEMAND. IF PEOPLE WANT THE JOBS, THEN IT'S DIFFERENT THAN TEACHING. WE DON'T HAVE TEACHERS THAT THEY WANT. IT'S SUPPLY AND DEMAND. IF THIS WAS A WELL PAID POSITION AND RESPECTED, IT WOULD BE COMPETITIVE, AND IT'S NOT.

DICK FOREMAN: CAN I ADD SOMETHING TO THAT. PEOPLE OF ARIZONA AGREED OR NOT PASSED PROPOSITION 204, THE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE. IT'S PHASED IN AND RESULTS AT ABOUT $1 AN HOUR INCREASE. THAT'S $8 A DAY. THE PEOPLE OF ASSIST SAID THE LOWER PAID WORKER, FAST FOOD WORKERS ETC. ARE GOING TO MAKE $8 AN HOUR BUT WE GAVE THE TEACHERS A DOLLAR. I DON'T SEE THE CORRELATION.

TED SIMONS: THERE SEEMS TO BE A DISCONNECT WITH THIS.

CHRISTINE MARSH: WE KEEP TRYING. WE ARE DOWN AT THE CAPITOL EVERY WEEK. ARIZONA SCHOOLS NOW, WE KEEP PUSHING AND TRYING. LEGISLATORS SAY THEY WOULD LOVE TO HELP. THEY CAN'T WAIT TO HELP. THEY DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO HELP. YOU BUYING THAT?

DICK FOREMAN: WE ARE HERE TO HELP THEM. I HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THE STATE, I HAVE GREAT HOPE FOR THE FUTURE, GREAT BELIEF IN OUR SYSTEM, RESOURCES PEOPLE. I THINK WE CAN WORK WITH THIS LEGISLATURE AND GOVERNOR. I'M GOING TO BE OPTIMISTIC. IF WE CAN PRESENT REASONABLE SOLUTIONS, I THINK WE WOULD ALL ROLL UP OUR SLEEVES AND TACKLE THIS TOGETHER.

TED SIMONS: GREAT TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE.

DICK FOREMAN: IT WAS A REAL PLEASURE.

AZ Schools Now is an education coalition that helped pass Proposition 123, which provided more money for schools. Now, the coalition is setting its sights on other goals, including permanent teacher salary raises, changes in private school tuition tax credits and meetings to talk about future school funding. Christine Marsh, the 2016 Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year, and Dick Foreman, president and CEO of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, will talk about those goals.

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In this segment:

Christine Marsh: 2016 Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year
Dick Foreman: President and CEO of the Arizona Business and Education Coalition

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