Friday, March 10, 2017

Arizona "Teachers fear they won't get paid after Gov. Ducey rejects funding."

This is another recent headline this month reaffirming the crisis in our classrooms.  Apparently, the governor is refusing to fund the Arizona Department of Education's IT department, which, according to an ADE employee, is the "hub of the entire education system." It handles a host of vital projects, including keeping student attendance and issuing teachers' paychecks.  Some teachers and ADE employees are bracing for the fallout, according to Arizona Superintendent Diane Douglas, who criticized the state for failing to fund public education.

Funding the IT department is a real problem that needs a real solution – one that costs an estimated $17 million. This issue only exacerbates the fact that Arizona nationally is dead last in teacher pay.

The governor and his friends are patting themselves on the back for offering teachers an insulting raise that amounts to about $2 a paycheck.  Instead of finding substantive ways to correct this, Republicans have spent years pushing to expand controversial voucher programs that pull money away from public schools and are being recognized nationally as a shell game. This is a crisis that the Republicans have created. House Democrats are focused on creating solutions for Arizona, while Republicans are focused on advancing their political agenda.

House Democrats are committed to finding ways to pay our teachers a wage that reflects their contributions to our state and our kids. Finding the money to do so is a matter of priorities. House Democrats have offered a package of bills that will get teachers the 4 percent raise they are asking for while prioritize solutions for other problems facing our kids' schools.

These solutions come from the community, and we need the community to continue to fight for our kids' classrooms. Call your legislators and tell them you want the budget to reflect your values. We know what the right priorities are for Arizonians and we can do much better for our hardworking teachers and students.  Let us stop being the country's model for shell games that hurt our kids and our future.