Gov. Ducey will ‘work with teachers, decision makers’ on increased wages
PHOENIX — With more than 200 protesters outside, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey held his monthly interview with the Mac & Gaydos Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM Tuesday, providing his insight on the current situation surrounding Arizona education.
“I’m onboard for teachers, I’m onboard for increasing teacher pay, I just came from the state Capitol, we met with I think 13 or 14 superintendents from around the state, large districts and small, rural and urban,” Ducey said. “It’s getting late in the session, I know how topical this is, I know how important this is. This is something that’s been important to me since I came into public office and I want to see more money going to our teachers.
“The first step is to get more money into K-12 and then working with superintendents so we can [make sure] that these dollars get into their paychecks so it’s something that’s very important to me and we’re going to deliver on this year’s budget on this.”
Teachers across West Virginia protested in March, causing a nine-day shutdown of public schools. The strike ended after state officials vowed to raise teacher pay five percent. Teachers around Arizona have taken part in the protest, wearing “Red for Ed” to show they believe in and deserve higher wages and better treatment.
And while Ducey is willing to sit down with teachers, he will not take part in what he called a “political circus.”
“I’m going to work with teachers and I’m going to work with decision makers,” Ducey said. “Now I want to separate that out. I’m trying to help the teachers inside K-12 but I’m going to stay out of the political theater and the political activists.”
When asked if he would sit down with Arizona Education Association’s president Joe Thomas, Ducey backed up his statement.
“Why would I want to sit down with someone who just wants to play games? I want to sit down with teachers, I want to sit down with superintendents and principals. These are the folks that make the decisions on where the dollars go and I’m sitting down with legislators because first thing I have to do is pass this budget if I want 400 million additional dollars.”
The Arizona Education Association, one of the state’s most powerful advocacy groups for teachers, will not support the incumbent Ducey in November’s gubernatorial race, an official for the group said in March.
Instead, Thomas said his group would back Democrat David Garcia, an Arizona State University professor.
“What I don’t want to do is get into these political operatives, political circus. I’m avoiding that. I’ve got a day job, I’m the governor,” Ducey said. “I want to pass this budget and if this budget’s pass, there is going to be additional monies available for teacher pay.”
As it stands, The average teacher in Arizona makes a base pay of $48,372, according to Ducey.
“What’s on the table this year, now we have to pass this budget, I proposed this budget but — I was talking to the superintendents saying — I need to work with the state legislature, I need to get 16 in the Senate and 31 in the House,” he said. “That will be 400 million additional dollars for K-12 education.
“We wanted to work with the superintendents on what percentage of that can they get into teacher’s salaries so we’re working together on what this plan is going to be so we can communicate with these teachers because I think if they can understand where we are and where we are going to go, they’ll see that not only do we respect them, we want to reward them with higher pay. It’s critically important.”