Arizona teachers post paystubs online to draw attention to low wages

Mar 15, 2018, 4:55 AM | Updated: 3:31 pm
The paystubs of Arizona teachers Elisabeth Milich (bottom) and Philip Brown. (Courtesy photos)...
The paystubs of Arizona teachers Elisabeth Milich (bottom) and Philip Brown. (Courtesy photos)
(Courtesy photos)
LISTEN: Paystub picture fallout

PHOENIX — Arizona’s teachers are turning to social media to highlight the issues with their wages by posting pictures of their paystubs.

Elisabeth Milich, who taught in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, posted hers on her Facebook page about a week ago. She said she buys all her own classroom supplies, as well as snacks for children who don’t have them.

An irritating incident, she said, led her to post her paystub picture: “I was at school teaching, and I ran out of Scotch tape … I was trying to find Scotch tape to finish this project, realizing that I would have to go to the store again.”

Later that day, Milich said, she received a printout of her professional-development-hours update, which partially determines teachers’ raises.

“It just made me go, ‘Oh my gosh – this is so crazy!'” Milich said. “I had to have a 4-year college degree to make this amount of money, and still buy all my own [classroom and teaching] supplies.

“I know I don’t make a lot of money, but when you see it in black and white … ‘Oh my gosh.’”

Sarah Platten taught first grade in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. She told KTAR News 92.3 FM that her salary increase for next year is $41.

“I have a master’s degree in education. Next year would be my sixth year of teaching,” she wrote. “My student loan is $28,000. I pay $280 a month for a profession that can never pay back.”

Philip Brown teaches math at a southern Arizona high school, about ten minutes from the Mexican border. He said people who are upset with the constant higher-pay call of teachers – which he said, tend to be administrators and school-board members – probably don’t understand the issue.

“The structure of teacher compensation was changed during the recession,” he said. “…Teacher pay freezes; programs where you would receive an annual raise just for years in service – a lot of those went away.

“(Most of the public) genuinely feel teachers deserve more. But I don’t think that they know how to make that happen,” he said. “Going through the traditional avenues of unions; and school boards; and our state elected officials just don’t seem to be improving the compensation.”

To that end, Brown said, he’s started a non-profit for teachers. All donations, he said, are going to teachers who are the sole breadwinners for their families. The response, he said, has been overwhelming.

“”People were upset and angry (after I posted my paystub online), and they wanted to help out.”

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Arizona teachers post paystubs online to draw attention to low wages