Following numerous teacher walk ins across the state, Governor Doug Ducey announces plan to increase teacher wages by 20 percent by 2020.
Ducey says by combining last year’s budget with this year’s will equate to a 10 percent teacher salary raise. Next year will include an addition five percent raise, and the year after that will see the same. The average teacher pay right now is $48,723. If the plan is passed, teachers will make $52,725 by the start of the next school year beginning this fall. By the end of the plan in 2020, the projected average teacher salary will be $58,130.
In addition to the increased teacher wages, Ducey also says there will be district assistance with fixing school infrastructure, modernizing the curriculum, improving school buses and updating school technologies.
“I think today’s proposal is a really important step in the right direction to increase teacher pay during the next three years by this significant amount of 20 percent,” Erin Hart, chief operating officer for Expect More Arizona, says. “It is really something we should commend… It will get us close to the median, that’s for sure. It’s a big step forward.”
Teachers in the state have warned of strikes and walk outs if the legislature decided not to act. Hart agrees that their efforts to speak up has had a noticeable effect of moving the needle on this issue.
“I think the walk ins have been really impressive to show community support for education…,” Hart says. “I hope teachers feel loved and supported right now.”
Arizona has a reputation for being one of the worst places for public education and teacher salary. Hart is hopeful that this plan will change the narrative. If the government approves of this decision to invest in education and teachers, “Arizona will become the state we know it can be.”
“I think we’re making a lot of progress,” Hart says. “We’ve made a lot of gains over the last few years. We have a lot to be proud of. We still have a long way to go, but we’ve made a lot of steps forward.”
TED SIMONS: TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT COMES AS TEACHERS ARE INCREASINGLY CONSIDERING A WALK-OUT BEFORE THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR. JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE GOVERNOR'S PROPOSAL AND IF TODAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT IS ENOUGH TO END THE TALK OF A TEACHER STRIKE, ERIN HART OF EXPECT MORE ARIZONA. THANKS FOR BEING HERE.
ERIN HART: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHAT WE HEARD?
ERIN HART: I THINK IT'S AN IMPORTANT STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION TO INCREASE TEACHER PAY BY THE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF 20% IS SOMETHING WE SHOULD COMMEND. WE SHOULD LOOK AT THE LONG TERM TOO TO LOOK AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. IN TERMS OF TEACHER PAY, THIS IS AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP.
ERIN HART: LETS TAKE IT STEP BY STEP, 1% INCREASE LAST YEAR COMBINED WITH 9% THIS YEAR, A 10% INCREASE THIS YEAR. THAT'S SIGNIFICANT. IT'S NOT THE 20% THAT THE RED FOR ED MOVEMENT WANTED, BUT IT'S SIGNIFICANT.
ERIN HART: IT IS SIGNIFICANT. IT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS PART OF IT. THINK OF THE SCALE OF THREE YEARS GETTING IT TO ANOTHER 20% IS MEANINGFUL. WE HAVE WORKED TOGETHER WITH PARTNERS ACROSS THE STATE TO REACH A GOAL IN ARIZONA. WE WERE AT 49TH. WE WANT TO BE AT THE NATIONAL MEDIAN BY 2022.
TED SIMONS: HOW CLOSE? A 20% INCREASE NOW, BY 2020 THE AVERAGE TEACHER SALARY PROJECTED TO BE $58,000 A YEAR. WHERE THAT IS AS FAR AS NATIONAL STANDARDS ARE?
ERIN HART: IT'S GOING TO MOVE US TO THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK. IT'S A BIG STEP FORWARD.
TED SIMONS: IT'S NOT IN THE 40S ANYMORE, RIGHT? WE HAVE 5%, 10% THIS YEAR. IT LOOKS LIKE THAT WILL BE ARGUED NOT MUCH AT THE LEGISLATURE. WE'LL SEE. THE 5% INCREASE IN SUCCEEDING YEARS, WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT THAT. THOSE ARE FUTURE LEGISLATORS AND PERHAPS A FUTURE GOVERNOR TO GET THAT DONE. ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THAT?
ERIN HART: I THINK ITS WORTHYING THINKING ABOUT. WE'LL HAVE TO SEE HOW IT SHAKE OUT IN THE BUDGET AND HOW THEY PROPOSE TO HANDLE IT.
TED SIMONS: BUT 49,000 TO 53,000 JUST THIS YEAR ALONE, DOESN'T SOUND LIKE MUCH TO ARGUE WITH THERE.
ERIN HART: IT'S AN IMPORTANT STEP. I HOPE THE TEACHERS FEEL THEY HAVE BEEN HEARD. I THINK THEIR VOICES SPEAKING UP HELPED MOVE THE NEEDLE ON THAT.
TED SIMONS: HOW MUCH DID IT HELP ALL OF THIS TALK, EVEN THE TALK OF A STRIKE. DO YOU THINK THAT HELPED?
ERIN HART: I'M NOT SURE, BUT COLLECTIVELY IN ARIZONA WE HAVE SEEN EDUCATION AS THE TOP PRIORITY. VOTERS, PEOPLE I TALK TO ACROSS THE STATE SAY EDUCATION IS THE TOP PRIORITY AND AMONG THOSE, TEACHER PAY IS NUMBER ONE. THE COLLECTIVE VOICE OF VOTERS IS BEING SHOWN.
TED SIMONS: THE GOVERNOR MENTIONED THIS IS NO SHELL GAME REFERRING TO OTHER IDEAS THAT YOU WOULD USE CAPITAL EXPENDITURES AND SHIFT IT OVER TO TEACHERS. GOVERNOR SAYING 10% FOR TEACHERS AND $371 MILLION MORE FOR CAPITAL EXPENDITURES.
ERIN HART: IF WE CAN GET THAT DONE, THAT'S A BIG WIN FOR SCHOOL AND WE CAN THINK ABOUT UNIVERSITIES TO MAKE SURE THAT THE WHOLE PIPELINE IS COVERED.
TED SIMONS: THE WINNERS TODAY ARE TEACHERS. THAT'S WHAT THE GOVERNORS SAID. DO YOU AGREE?
ERIN HART: I AGREE. OUR TEACHERS SHOULD BE THE WINNER. THAT'S WHAT WE ARE FIGHTING FOR COLLECTIVELY.
TED SIMONS: DO YOU THINK THIS IS ENOUGH TO END THE TALK OF STRIKES?
ERIN HART: I'M NOT PART OF THE MOVEMENT, SO I CAN'T SPEAK FOR THEM, BUT I HOPE THEY'LL CONSIDER IT. I THINK THE WALK INS HAVE BEEN IMPRESSIVE TO SHOW COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR EDUCATION. 2-300 PEOPLE ARE SHOWING UP. IT'S IMPRESSIVE. I HOPE TEACHERS FEEL LOVED AND SUPPORTED RIGHT NOW.
TED SIMONS: THE GOVERNOR MENTIONS $1.7 BILLION IN PUBLIC EDUCATION. A LOT OF THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. A LOT OF IT IS NEEDED AS GROWTH. DOES IT BUG YOU $1.7 BILLION WHEN IT'S NOT THE SITUATION?
ERIN HART: IN FAIRNESS THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF FORWARD PROGRESS. WE HAVE TO GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE. THERE IS MORE TO BE DONE. WE HOPE THIS MOVES US THERE.
TED SIMONS: THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE'S ON THE SIDE OF THE TEACHERS. DO YOU AGREE?
ERIN HART: AFTER TODAY, THIS IS A BIG PROPOSAL HE PUT FORWARD. IF WE CAN GET IT DONE, I THINK IT WILL BE A BIG WIN.
TED SIMON: IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS, THE IDEA THAT ARIZONA FOR A WHILE THERE, AND PERHAPS EVEN NOW UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS THERE, IT'S BEING LOOKED AT AS AN EDUCATION POOR STATE. HOW MUCH DOES THIS CHANGE ARIZONA'S IMAGE?
ERIN HART: IT HELPS CHANGE THE NARRATIVE. WE HAVE A LOT OF GOOD THINGS GOING ON IN ARIZONA. IMAGINE IF WE HAD THE INVESTMENT, IF TEACHERS WERE PAID MORE, IF WE COULD KEEP THEM ACROSS THE STATE MAKING SURE TEACHERS GET A GREAT OUTCOME. OUR STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT WILL IMPROVEMENT. ARIZONA WILL BE THE STATE WE KNOW IT CAN BE.
TED SIMONS: IT SEEMS IT'S ALWAYS BEEN THERE BUT IT TAKES ACTION, PUSHING AND SHOVING ON THE TEACHER'S PART TO GET SOMETHING DONE.
ERIN HART: WE HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY.
TED SIMONS: BOTTOMLINE, AFTER TODAY WE LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE BUDGET. THE GOVERNOR IS PUSHING FOR THIS. THERE MAY BE TWEAKING BUT I CAN'T IMAGINE CHANGING OUT OF ALL OF THIS. EDUCATION IN ARIZONA, THINGS ARE GETTING BETTER, SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER OR JUST ON THE ROAD?
ERIN HART: WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS. WE HAVE A LOT TO BE PROUD OF. WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO BUT WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY. APPRECIATE IT.
Erin Hart: Chief Operating Officer, Expect More Arizona