12News Verified: AZ teacher pay ranks at bottom

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The 12 News Verify team reported that when pressed with questions about Arizona’s poor public teacher salaries, Gov. Doug Ducey made two comments that 12 News verified are unsupported or simply false.

Speaking to KTAR 92.3 in November 2017, Ducey responded to a question about Arizona’s national ranking being No. 49 or No. 50 for teachers’ salary.

Ducey argued that the numbers may be skewed when cost of living is taken into account. Ducey said:

“If you index where we are with teachers right now to, to cost of living, there are people who will tell you we are at 29 right now. The way people play with statistics and numbers so they can drive their agenda is just something you have to deal with.”

In fact, research that accounts for cost of living places Arizona near the very bottom when it comes to teacher pay. A study last year by Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU found that when adjusted for cost of living, Arizona ranks 48th in high school teacher pay and dead last in elementary teacher pay.

The ATRA statistic referenced by Ducey compares teacher salaries to “per-capita personal income” of everyone living in the state working in every industry. When that statistic is taken into account, Arizona teachers rank 28th.

“By almost any measure we are near the bottom unless you do this thing that ATRA has done which just really seems to distort things dramatically,” said Dan Hunting, senior policy analyst at Morrison Institute.

The study compares the mean of salaries statewide as opposed to the median.

“It’s not the usual practice to compare averages like this. An economist would say the median is the appropriate way to compare salaries and not the mean,” said Hunting.

READ: Ducey makes unverified, false claims about teacher pay in Arizona
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