Ducey, legislative leaders arrive at teacher pay deal

On Wednesday evening drivers got a front row seat to the hundreds of Red For Ed supporters on the eve of the teacher walkout

On Wednesday evening drivers got a front row seat to the hundreds of Red For Ed supporters on the eve of the teacher walkout

The average salary for teachers in Colorado this year is $52,728, up slightly from $51,810 in 2016-17 and $51,204 in 2015-16, according to state education officials.

"We're going to get this 20 percent pay increase, we're going to get $100 million for support staff and other needs", he said on KTAR radio.

"Today, we are pleased to announce that this plan is a reality".

However, Hickenlooper didn't offer any funding above what has already been proposed for next year. Of the more than 57,000 teachers, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, crossing guards and others who cast a vote, 78 percent were in favor.

That's what Governor Ducey tweeted out Friday afternoon referring to a plan from the state to fund education and give teachers and staff a raise.

"We want to make sure we can gauge the membership about what they want to do", said Derek Harris, one of the organizers of grass-roots group Arizona Educators United.

"A lot of new teachers aren't prepared for the cost of living here", Summit Cove Elementary School teacher Tara Dye said. "There's five demands, there has been from the beginning". But they would not answer questions about who is financing the effort, with Buckley, chair of what's being called the Invest in Education Committee, saying all that will have to wait until Monday.

Ducey has refused to meet with walkout leaders, instead inviting a handful of selected educators to meetings. Almost two-thirds of respondents approved of national teachers unions, and three-quarters said teachers have the right to strike. Educators in Oklahoma and Kentucky followed. The teachers' union is backing a ballot initiative to raise taxes on corporations and those earning over $150,000 a year.

"Our teachers have not been able to have raises for the last several years and I'm certain it's the same issue that's going on around the country", Marla Hackett of Queen Creek, Ariz., a survey participant, who stated her daughter is a teacher, told the NPR. But corporate tax collections which were $663 million in 2015 are predicted to be just $252 million this budget year.

Now the governor must find support in the house for his plan.

"We are also restoring recession-era cuts to increase funding for schools and putting more money into the classroom - flexible dollars for superintendents to use for support staff pay increases, update antiquated curriculum and improve school infrastructure - without raising taxes".

Plans for Monday are in flux as educators decide their next step.

"I really love working with students, not just in class, but as they are growing up and figuring out the world, " said Buckley. One art teacher, who gave his first name as Andrew, was among a group that traveled from the southern part of the state.

The vast majority of people in the US believe that teachers demanding a better pay have a right to strike, according to a latest NPR/Ipsos poll, which showed that only one in four Americans believe the teachers in the country were receiving a fair pay, while two-thirds approved of national teachers' unions, and three-quarters agreeing for the teachers having the right to strike.

It remains to be seen how Arizona's leaders will respond to the teachers' movement, widely known here as #RedforEd, and how long it could last.

"I think we have to come back Monday because they closed shop and ran away from us yesterday, and we have to show them that they don't get to run away from our students", Arizona Education Association president Joe Thomas told USA Today.

As states slashed budgets during the Great Recession of 2007-2009, teachers took a hit. The fact that school funding is so heavily tied to local property taxes perpetuates income and wealth inequality, and some believe it is a product of white supremacist thinking. And he said parents will stick with educators, even into next week, "as long as we can show them that this fight remains about students".

Backers have an uphill fight just to get the measure on the November ballot.

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