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As Oklahoma teachers end strike, Arizona governor offers raise to avert one

15 April 2018

Teachers at Humphrey Elementary school participate in a state-wide walk-in prior to classes Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in Chandler, Ariz. In Arizona, meanwhile, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) worked to avoid a strike starting Friday by offering teachers a 20 percent raise by 2020, starting with a 9 percent hike starting next fall.

Governor Doug Ducey has announced a new teacher pay raise proposal. Additional 5 percent increases will be made the next two years to achieve a net 20 percent increase by the 2020 school year.

The proposal rolled out by the Republican governor Thursday doesn't increase funding for other school needs or provide raises for school staff as a grassroots teachers group demanded.

Democratic Rep. Rebecca Rios acknowledged she was amazed at what a threatened teacher strike in an election 12 months can get the Republicans to do.

Arizona teachers make $48,372 a year on average, among the lowest in the country. This initiative is in addition to his plan to fully restore recession-era cuts over the next five years - all without raising taxes while maintaining Arizona's balanced budget.

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Ducey was vague about where the cash would come from, only saying a growing economy and lower spending in other areas unexpectedly freed up $274 million this year. He has also said he would cancel some of the planned spending in his budget and use savings from government efficiencies.

"As somebody who is committed to education, is committed to teaching kids.Just a commitment from our state that this is a valuable thing that we're doing and not just for teachers but for kids", said Derek Hamilton, a teacher.

"Are we going to trust legislators with this plan that kind of came out of nowhere, that they say that they're going to work on all weekend long?" "The winners today are the teachers of Arizona".

It now has more than 40,000 members on its Facebook group.

Teachers and others held "walk-ins" at more than 1,000 schools Wednesday to draw attention to their demands and Arizona Educators United said earlier this week that a strike date could be set soon. The demonstrations saw teachers march arm-in-arm into school wearing red shirts as part of the #RedforEd campaign.

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Ducey bent to their demands on Thursday and pledged to push the new proposal through the Legislature in the coming weeks.

"Teachers, parents, and leaders across this state understand that many dollars put into school budgets cannot be spent on teacher pay when school buses are broken down, health insurance and utility costs are going up, class sizes are growing, roofs are leaking, students are missing classroom aids and counselors, and textbooks are 15 years old", Naimark said.

Arizona teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation, with elementary instructors earning a median 2017 wage of $43,280 and high school teachers $46,470, the third and sixth lowest in the nation, respectively, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Teachers will be wearing red shirts and walking arm-in-arm at around a thousand schools across Arizona to show solidarity in their demand for higher salaries. And he says teachers also want to know if other school professionals will get raises.

May and other teachers who are a part of the #WearRedForEd movement want a 20 percent increase next year. An initial investment of $100 million will be made in FY2019.

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As Oklahoma teachers end strike, Arizona governor offers raise to avert one