NewsPhoenix Metro NewsCentral Phoenix News


Red for Ed: Arizona teachers protest as they call for higher pay

Valley teachers, staff rally for higher pay
Posted at 7:43 AM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 21:15:01-04

Wednesday morning teachers at one of the state’s largest schools, Hamilton High School, joined together to wave signs in support of the Red for Ed movement.

It was part of a larger demonstration at schools around the Valley to bring attention to the need for better teacher pay.

Air15 video showed teachers gathered in front of Mesa High School and Thunderbird High School.

Just before the first bell, teachers linked arms and marched through the hallways of their schools. No class time was disrupted. 

Save Our Schools Arizona also sounded off about public school pay. They distributed "progress reports" to many lawmakers at the Arizona State Capitol Wednesday, giving most politicians a "needs improvement" score. 

Governor Ducey has stuck with his initial budget proposal of a one percent teacher raise and an extra $100 million, above inflation and student population growth, for general school spending next year. Meantime, proponents of a larger raise are offering suggestions for funding.

"We could save hundreds of millions if we would just stop the tax cuts for private school vouchers," said Dawn Penich-Thacker from Save Our Schools Arizona. "Allow parents who want to go to private school to pay for that choice on their own."

David Garcia, a Democratic candidate for Governor, said a targeted tax increase could also fund most of the requested teacher salary increase. 

"A modest increase in the top one percent of Arizonans can generate  $500 million alone," Garcia said.

State Sen. Steve Farley, another Democratic candidate for governor, said lawmakers should undo some exceptions for state sales tax.

"Every single week, we see in committee another lobbyist coming in and asking for another special break for their client: to get a sales tax break on private jets, to get a sales tax break on coal, a sales tax break on four-inch pipes," Farley said.

State House Speaker JD Mesnard said it's not as simple as closing loopholes.  

"All of those have other consequences, so on the front-end, they would bring in money, but on the back-end, they could cost us money," Mesnard said.

Republican government leaders say have upped money for schools under Prop 123, by renewing Prop 301, and giving dedicated teacher raises over two years.

"There's frustration coming from teachers," Mesnard said, "and there's frustration coming here at the legislature that we feel like the efforts we have taken over the years get lost somewhere in translation."