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Arizona educators question Gov. Ducey’s education proposal

Arizona educators question Gov. Ducey’s education proposal
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(AP Photo/Bob Christie,File)

PHOENIX – Members of Arizona Educators United expressed their concerns Thursday for the new education proposal announced by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Thursday.

The proposal is set to give Arizona teachers a 20 percent pay increase over the next two years, with a one percent pay raise in fiscal year 2018, a nine percent raise in fiscal year 2019 and then a five percent raise in both fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

The plan would also pledge $371 million in district assistance to provide flexible funding for schools to use on various improvement projects.

While the plan outlined the impact it would make on the pay of teachers, members from the Arizona Educators United questioned the proposals in a video, saying it doesn’t meet their demands.

“This doesn’t address all of the demands the Arizona Educators United has put out, as it doesn’t meet what it is that Red for Ed stands for,” said Joe Thomas, the president of the Arizona Educators Association.

“The educator voice has never been stronger in the state of Arizona. So now we have to decide, was this hastily put together press conference, this set of goals without any details on how we are going to get there, is that good enough?”

The Arizona Educators United produced demands that included benefits for both teachers and support staff within Arizona’s school districts.

Vanessa Jimenez, the vice president of classified employees for the Phoenix Union School District, said her “heart dropped” when there was no mention of other educational staff in the proposal.

“That saddens me because everybody knows that it takes a village to raise our students and that village includes teachers and classified staff,” Jimenez said.

“When I think of his proposal, it’s clearly an attempt to divide us and we are not going to be divided. Yesterday we all wore red, we walked in together, united. Whether we were cafeteria, bus drivers, crafts, clerical tech, we all are in this together so I hope we don’t let this break us apart.”

Teachers have been taking to the streets for weeks as a part of the #RedForEd movement, which was launched by Arizona Educators United, to call on Ducey and other Arizona lawmakers to dedicate more funds to teacher pay and classroom improvements.

Teachers and other support staff said they would hold the protests every Wednesday this month.

Ducey said he hopes for the proposal to be approved soon, as he and members of legislature will work through the weekend to iron out the details.

“I believe the legislature is in line with that and I know we can get this done,” he said.

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