Gov. Doug Ducey says state of education in Arizona is ‘on the rise’

Jun 6, 2018, 4:15 AM | Updated: 1:36 pm

KTAR News 92.3 FM continues to cover education in Arizona. This week’s focus is on “The Changing Face of the Arizona Teacher.”

PHOENIX — A month after teachers throughout the state walked off the job to force increased funding for their profession, Gov. Doug Ducey said things are looking up for education in Arizona.

“The state of education in Arizona is on the rise,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM recently. “We’ve got a great place to live, work and play. It’s also going to be a great place for our kids to get an education.”

In early May, after a six-day teacher walkout that included daily protests at the Arizona Capitol, Ducey signed a budget that includes a 20 percent increase in pay by 2020, including 10 percent for the coming year.

“The way the state is going to measure it is by average teacher pay,” Ducey said. “Today the average teacher pay in Arizona is $48,372. Upon completion of these resources, it should be $58,100.”

Elementary school teachers in Arizona are no longer the worst-paid in the country: Arizona now ranks No. 49 nationwide for elementary school teacher pay, behind Oklahoma.

Arizona also moved up one spot for high school teacher pay, to No. 48.

Education group Expect More Arizona estimated that if the full 20 percent pay raise took effect immediately, Arizona would move up to the mid-30s in the nationwide rankings.

Inside the classroom, Ducey pointed to improvements in math, reading and science indicators.

“I like to look at fourth and eighth grade math, reading and science, and Arizona is leading the country in improvement on those topics,” he said.

Ducey is hoping the improved atmosphere will encourage more people to go into teaching.

“We also want to see more young people at the university level choosing teaching as a profession,” he said. “This is why we put the teachers academies together. … If a young person feels mission driven to work inside an Arizona public school, their tuition will be paid for, they’ll graduate debt-free, and a job will be waiting for them.”

The Arizona Teachers Academy is a program started last year in which students at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University can have their tuition covered if they commit to teaching in the state after they graduate.

“Besides being a parent, a person that can make the biggest impact on a young person’s life is a teacher,” Ducey said.

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Gov. Doug Ducey says state of education in Arizona is ‘on the rise’