Two years ago teachers from Arizona, Oklahoma, Colorado walked out of their classrooms to protest cuts to school funding and low salaries for teachers in their respective states.
In late April an estimates 20,000 teachers marched on the state capitol building. As a result of the six-day protest, Governor Doug Ducey promised to increase teacher’s pay over three years.
The “20 by 2020” plan was a three year effort to boost salaries until they increased by 20% by the end of 2020.
“After all the teachers went on strike, I think a bill came out and it said that they were going to raise teacher salaries by a total of 20 percent by 2020. There has been a noticeable increase in my salary, I think about ten percent from the time I left to now,” science teacher, Kirk Rundle said.
Over the last two years the J.O. Combs Unified School District has received $1.9 million in additional funding. The increased budget has given teachers a 15% raise, instructional support staff 12%, and all other staff a seven percent increase over the past two years.
This year the district should be getting the final five percent which is approximately $695,617 and should give teachers the final five percent raise to reach the 20% goal according to Karla Slovitsky, director of business services.
“So far so good, I was nervous about it because they still require the state legislature to approve each of the budget increases every single year but, so far the first two have kicked in just fine. It’s this last one, we’ll see if we get it, hopefully we do,” fine arts department chair Nicholas Smith said
Although some think the governor is keeping up with the plan, others think differently.
“He hasn’t really kept his promise, here are the facts. According to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, when adjusted for inflation, Arizona is still investing less per student than we did in 2008 when it comes to educating our children,” student council advisor David Nelson said.
The average salary for teachers in Arizona in 2019 was about $49,892. This is very different in comparison to the average teacher salary in the United States which was about $60,000. In Arizona each child’s education is about worth $8,335, in comparison to other states Arizona is behind with only three states spending less.
“Arizona teachers are among the lowest paid in the country, according to federal data. Average salaries last year were actually $8,000-$9,000 less than 1990 salaries when adjusted for inflation,” Nelson said.