Capitol Times: Gov. sticks with his education funding plan

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Arizona Capitol Times reported that Gov. Doug Ducey won’t meet with the leaders of two teacher groups to talk about salaries and related issues even as they are taking the first steps toward a walkout. The governor’s statement comes less than a week after a request by Arizona Educators United and the Arizona Education Association to discuss not just the 20 percent salary increase to compete with neighboring states but also restoring education levels to where they were a decade ago.

Ducey, in essence, has written off both groups as irrelevant to his own education funding plans. Ducey is sticking with his plan to give teachers a 1 percent pay hike this coming year on top of a 1 percent increase for the current school year.

He also disputes that teacher pay in Arizona is as bad as some have suggested, contending that the rankings are misleading. Ducey has said Arizona is no worse than No. 43.

But Dan Hunting, senior policy analyst at Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said for 2017 elementary school teachers ranked 49th in the nation, up one notch from 2016, when the cost of living is factored in. There also was a one-spot increase for high school teachers, to 48th.

While many teachers find the governor’s plan wanting, Ducey said the package has the backing of more than two dozen school superintendents. These are the individuals who turned out for a January press conference when Ducey agreed to restore $100 million the state had shorted schools in what it was supposed to provide them for things like textbooks, computers and school buses.

That actually is less than Ducey himself cut from the same account his first year in office. But the governor said he is committed to restoring the full funding of $371 million during the next five years.

It is that work with the superintendents that the governor said has been his focus, rather than with the teacher groups.

READ: Ducey to meet with ‘decision makers,’ not teachers to talk about salaries