Educator: Increased education funding a ‘down payment’ on lasting change

The new state budget signed Thursday morning by Governor Doug Ducey gives teachers a nine percent pay increase this year and gives back $100 million to schools. According to Ralph Quintana, president of the Arizona Federation of Teachers, it isn’t enough.

The legislature is calling this budget a “substantial” increase for education, but Quintana doesn’t fully agree. He says the legislature hasn’t awarded teachers and classrooms with funding for the last ten years, so in his view this budget isn’t substantial, it’s what they have long been owed.

“‘Remember in November’ is becoming a really popular phrase among us educators,” Quintana says. “I really think they’ve poked the bear a little bit here. Many of us educators who are in the classroom right now know this isn’t going to fix the problem of why we’re losing teachers.”

Quintana says for him, the walkout was worth it because they didn’t walk away with nothing. He considers the new funding to education to be a down payment on everything the government still owes them. Possibly the best result of the walkout is that they brought public awareness to the situation like never before.

“I think this will lead us into November to actually make lasting change and hopefully someday force revenue increases that will improve all the funding we are asking for,” the English teacher says.

While the budget is a win, Quintana says it doesn’t even come close to all the money the government owes education as required by the Arizona Constitution. With every new tax cut, money has been taken away from classrooms.

Quintana says he’s also not a fan of some of the wording in the new budget. The government is counting on the economy to be successful in order to fund this, and there’s nothing in the budget that says they’re required to give the teachers their raise if the economy is not as profitable as expected.

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Ralph Quintana: President, Arizona Federation of Teachers

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