Arizona's State Superintendent previews classroom improvement plan

PHOENIX - Arizona's State Superintendent says the education around the state is "getting better."

Diane Douglas spoke exclusively to ABC15 Sunday ahead of her major speech at the Arizona Capitol on Monday.

Douglas, who has been State Superintendent of Public Instruction for three years, says all teachers a need a sizable raise. 

The education sales tax, created by Proposition 301, expires in 2020, and Douglas proposes going back to voters asking for a renewal and an increase.

"Under my proposal, we are working to get an average of $5,000 per year to our teachers," Douglas said. "Is that all they deserve for all the work they do? Maybe not, but it would be a good start."

Some advocates for student achievement question Douglas' funding approach.

"Because of the way sales taxes work, as we saw with the recession, if we have another hit, and the sales tax revenue goes down then teachers will lose that money," Stand for Children's Rebecca Gau said.

Gau indicated Arizona teachers need a 7-8% raise to be on par with salaries in other Southwestern states.

In her speech at 2 p.m. Monday, Douglas will also update state legislators on the rural school broadband connection project. She will also give a progress report on rewriting school standards without Common Core.

In judging school success, Douglas says AZMerit test scores should not be the primary factor in rating schools with A-F letter grades.

"That test was never meant to evaluate a teacher at school or district," Douglas said. "It's to evaluate a student's academic achievement, and you can't make a correlation between one and the other."

Gau says schools should keep the A-F system, including using the test.

"It's a level playing field across the state; you can compare apples to apples," Gau said.

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