There is a growing crisis in our classrooms. Arizona is not able to replace the teachers who have been "fleeing" our state. There are thousands of vacant teaching positions in Arizona and educators are saying it's because the salaries here are too low.
Arizona is dead last in teacher pay in the country. Republican leadership slashed education funding for years, while doling out corporate and special interest tax breaks. They created this crisis and are now trying to get credit for proposing a minuscule increase in the budget for teachers' pay. It amounts to less than $200 a year. The offer is insulting.
Two of the state's top teachers delivered a letter to the governor saying that his plan is probably worse than nothing – it won't improve anything. In a recent article, Christine Marsh, the 2016 Arizona Educational Foundation Teacher of the Year, is quoted saying:
Instead, teachers and other education advocates are calling for a 4 percent raise this year, instead of the 0.4 percent that the governor is suggesting.
The governor and other Republican leaders need to take responsibility for the choices they made that have left our classrooms in crisis. Responsive leadership would empower the teachers who are letting us know how to fix the problem, instead of calling them "crybabies." Our kids and our teachers deserve better. Dedicated educators have shouldered this burden for too long. Paying teachers a wage that reflects how much we value the work they do is the right thing to do.
To see a copy of the letter education advocates sent to the governor, click here.
Here are video messages from your Arizona House Democrats: