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Arizona advocates deliver message for teacher pay raises to Gov. Doug Ducey

Teachers came together Monday outside Gov. Doug Ducey’s office asking for teachers to get a pay raise. (Griselda Nevarez/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — A group of Arizona advocates took to the streets on Monday to urge state Gov. Doug Ducey to give teachers a 20 percent raise.

“Give teachers pay raises, too, not peanuts.” That’s the message parents and teachers delivered — along with bags of peanuts — to Ducey’s office.

The movement came days after The Arizona Republic reported that Ducey has given 44 of his staff members raises up to 20 percent since the governor was elected in 2015.

In comparison, the Arizona State Legislature approved a one-time, one percent raise for teachers earlier this year.

Beth Simek, president of the Arizona PTA, said local advocates want Ducey to know that “our teachers need proper pay, not peanuts. And he’s been offering us peanuts. Our teachers deserve better.”

Some teachers across the state have children who receive free or reduced school lunches, while others are working two or three jobs to be able to pay the bills, Simek said.

“Yet, they still come to the classrooms every single day because they love what they do,” she said.

Roxanne Lopez, who has been teaching for 23 years in Arizona, said she was outraged when she heard Ducey’s staff received substantial bumps in pay.

“If money can be found for those pay raises for his employees, why can’t that money be found for teachers?” Lopez said. “We’ve deserved [pay raises] for so long.”

In a statement, Ducey’s spokesman Patrick Ptak said in most cases, the “raises were given through promotion with expanded roles and responsibilities using existing dollars.”

“When it comes to new dollars, those are going to K-12 education — including $68 million ongoing for a permanent pay raise for all teachers,” Ptak said.

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