Arizona PTA withdraws backing of Ducey's 'unsustainable' teacher pay raise plan

Arizona PTA withdraws backing of Ducey's 'unsustainable' teacher pay raise plan”

On Wednesday, April 11, Willcox Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Davis and several students joined staff from Willcox Middle and Elementary schools at the WMS flag pole to show support for Arizona teachers.

In a statement late Sunday, key organizers said the plan by Gov. Doug Ducey to hike salaries of teachers by 19 percent by 2020 does not meet the key goal of getting education funding back to where it would have been now had lawmakers not made a series of cuts during the Great Recession.

Organizing sessions and canvassing meetings around the state will follow the vote in order to bring the community on their side, according to Tucson teacher and #RedForEd leader Derek Harris.

Arizona teachers are fighting for increased pay in the vein of West Virginia and Oklahoma educators, who recently went on strike. "They're willing to take this risk for their students".

"It's not flawless, and it's not bringing the funding picture back to neutral by any means when you look at the cuts that have been sustained over the past eight to 10 years", he said.

He acknowledged that Arizona Educators United can't force teachers to walk out.

Kassandra Dominguez, a first grade teacher in Glendale, told the Arizona Republic that she and her colleagues met in school copy rooms and organized on Facebook to plan a "sick-out" that closed nine Phoenix schools on March 21, spreading a message classroom by classroom: "If it doesn't start with us, if we don't do this ripple effect, it's not gonna happen".

It's clear that the AEU leadership isn't ready to put away the red signs and T-shirts simply because Ducey has offered a 20 percent raise, and a vote on a walkout signals that the fight isn't over yet. That's in addition to a 1 percent raise they received this year. The state's largest, Mesa Public Schools in suburban Phoenix, would close and hourly staffers would not be paid, Superintendent Michael Cowan has said. Without special education aides, bus drivers, office personnel, counselors, etc., schools can't function. "At the same time, I'm not clear what the legal precedent is", he said. Arizonans have consistently reported that they support the teachers and believe that education- and the right to people entrusted with providing education to a living wage- is a fundamental value that they believe in.

Save Our Schools is not the only educators advocacy group to be opposed to the proposal.

"We've been telling our members that for six weeks, and they understand it", association President Joe Thomas said.

But if there is a message, Ogle said, it is to remember that it has been the educators and their organizations that have gotten Arizona to the point where the governor, who a year ago had recommended a pay hike of just 0.4 percent, is now making this offer. Teachers will vote before and after school hours.

"If somebody throws you a life vest, you're taking the vest", he said.

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